When Air New Zealand approached British adventurer Bear Grylls with an interesting concept for an air safety video, he jumped at the chance to be involved.
"Air New Zealand is renowned for thinking outside the square when it comes to in-flight safety videos; so when the team approached me to play a part in their latest video I was intrigued. The opportunity to shoot the video in the wild and alongside some Kiwi Scouts was an opportunity I couldn't resist," said Bear.
"Air New Zealand has found a unique way to deliver safety messages to its passengers in a way that is engaging and fun, and most importantly of all - passengers take notice."
Dubbed the Bear Essentials of Safety, the four-and-a-half minute video was filmed over three days entirely on location in a remote part of the Routeburn Track, an iconic 32 kilometre trek on the South Island that takes between two and four days to complete. Following the style established on his television program, the instructional video shows Bear applying his unique commentary flair to the components of an air safety video.
The former SAS elite soldier was joined on set by a cast and crew of 50 locals including Air New Zealand staff, Department of Conservation advisers and safety experts. Renowned Kiwi entomologist Ruud Kleinpaste and three Scouts from nearby Te Anau have a cameo role; Bear himself joined the scouting movement when he was eight and was later appointed Chief Scout.
The Air New Zealand Chief Marketing and Customer Officer is Mike Tod.
"Bear was the ideal partner to help us bring to life important on-board safety messages in a unique and compelling way, while at the same time demonstrating the best of what New Zealand has to offer. As far as we are aware this is the first time an airline safety video has been filmed in the great outdoors. We upped the ante even further, throwing children and animals into the mix, which made for a challenging shoot, but the results have already been well worth the effort." said Mr Tod.
The public response to the video has been substantial. In one month, the video has been watched by more than two million viewers on YouTube.
"The Bear Essentials of Safety has been a smash hit online and our customers onboard love it too," said Mr Tod.
New Zealand's national carrier has a track record of devising creative ways to impart the key safety messages to its passengers. An Unexpected Briefing, which takes inspiration from The Hobbit film series and features a cameo with director Peter Jackson, has been watched by more than 10 million people on YouTube. Other inspired videos have featured the All Black rugby team and the flight crew wearing nothing but body paint.
Through his television show Man vs Wild, Bear has introduced audiences - more than one billion people in 182 countries - to some of the most unaffected locations in the world. Over the seven series, Bear has parachuted into a Costa Rican rainforest, trekked through the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains in Georgia and took a boat down the west coast of Ireland. He's also explored Patagonia at the southern tip of South America, crossed the Sahara Desert in North Africa and demonstrated survival techniques in the Florida Everglades. Despite all the travel and exploration, it is New Zealand that he holds close to his heart.
"New Zealand is truly one of the greatest countries on earth for its incredible mix of wilderness and positive-minded, adventure loving people! I consider it a home away from home," he said.
While it was difficult to narrow down one particular NZ location, but when pressed, Bear nominated the mesmerising beauty of Wanaka, which is perfectly situated in the shadow of the Mount Aspiring National Park.
"I have spent a lot of time in Wanaka over the years. The place has it all - skiing, paragliding, jet skiing, rapids and a great community."
Away from the adventuring, Bear's ultimate place to relax is taking the family to his Welsh island; he recently purchased the west island of the group known as Saint Tudwals Islands. Bear shares his slice of paradise, which is situated of the northern Welsh coast near Bangor, with the local seal population.
"It's 20 acres with one house and a lighthouse and is our special hideaway. There is no mains electricity or water so we use solar and wind power and collect rainwater to bathe in! The island has great climbing and plenty of caves to explore; our kids adore it," said Bear.
"As a holiday destination I'd probably recommend Malibu, California where our Bear Grylls Ventures (BGV) office is based! It offers the perfect mix of sun, sea, fun people and my incredible BGV team. Oh but that's work... hmmm, well my work is fun, so let's go with that!"
Watch the Bear Essentials of Safety