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A YEAR IN CACTUS IN AFRICA

19/04/17 3:25 PM




Mat is the perfect Cactus ambassador. He has an amazing job, travelling the globe, filming wildlife for numerous impressive documentaries including for the BBC. He also doesn't hold back when he has time off for some personal adventuring. Here's something he wrote about his year living and filming in Africa. 

Since purchasing my first pair of Cactus Supertrousers before a shoot for BBC’s ‘Spy in the Wild’ in New Caledonia, I have been interested to see how ‘tough’ this piece of clothing really is.. After spending 20 days, every day, in the trousers on that shoot, I was convinced they were made of a mythical material similar to what may be seen in the Lord of the Rings…. I continued to use and abuse them in many different locations until I was offered the chance to work on a Natural History Documentary in Tanzania, Africa. 
 
Before the trip to Africa, my understanding of the place was that the entire continent was either bone dry or in constant thunderstruck jungle - it proved to be more of a mix (although the locals are becoming more and more confused as to what season is what now)….. Armed with a Miklat Pack, Cactus Merino Tee and the SuperTrousers mentioned before, I was thrown into an environment that initially felt very flat and foreign. As my knowledge grew, it felt like the land began to reveal itself and the flat, featureless Savanna was being etched into my memory - trees would become catching features, certain terminate mounds would be referenced in my diary as where we filmed certain animals. My attention to detail adapted itself, and what initially appeared to be ‘nothing’ evolved into a very feature full landscape. 
 
To spend a year in Tanzania was a truely unbelievable experience. It was a rollercoaster year for the planet - with Brexit, Trump and the ever increasing horror stories of what the planet is revealing to us about our expanding/ ‘progressing’ activity. Despite all this, being out here, such political and social influences really don’t change anything (immediately anyway) - if you can eliminate contact with the outside world and just react according to the local environment, life seems much slower and ‘real’. The psychological influence such lengthy exposure has allowed me to once again be reminded what is truely important in life - witnessing the life of key characters (animals) we filmed day after day revealed to me what the essence of life is for almost every other species we share this planet with - it seems we have deviated from this natural pathway, neglecting some of the most important characteristics of what makes us human. After 10 trips to the country, seven books of notes taken, I have come away much more aware of the natural world and these ecosystems that are so different than the Avian wonderland I came from…. 
 
To witness constantly an ecosystem that seems complete was absolutely incredible. The most obvious example is the aftermath of a hunt. When witnessing a lion hunting it instantly attracts many nosy neighbours. Vultures from the sky begin circling and settling in near by trees, hyena begin popping their heads out of holes and bushes, Jackal bravely begin trotting about on the outskirts of the kill site. When the lion’s belly looks as though they have swallowed a barrel, the others sequentially move in… Hyenas rush to the site (always keeping an eye on the activity of the lions) they begin a frenzy feast (the laughing and howling is something that you cannot help but laugh at). Vultures and Hyena seem to have an alliance that seems them (mostly) feed side by side, later the hyena move on and the Jackal move in (they often get chased and chase the vultures). Eventually the vultures are the last ones left and will stay about for a number days (depending on the size of the kill). Finally when the food is digested, the dung beetle go to town (there are other contributors but these mentioned are the obvious - consistent ones). The sequence of visitors to an event like this is such a brilliant example of how key components of the ecosystem are imperative to the function of the ecosystem. Other than witnessing it underwater in New Zealand, I haven’t been able to see a real example of ecosystem processes in such an obvious way. This really got me thinking about what back home we have lost and what would have given a comparable spectacle. I feel that the legacy of what I was able to see and film will forever be an example of what the natural world should be like ( Although this is a pocket of what there once was here - it still can be a great reference to future conservation goals). 
 
The one animal out here that had the biggest influence on me (literally physically) was the Tsetse fly (Like a sandfly, but instead of a micro needle, a horse tranquilliser needle). The situation of needing to have the most precise focus filming while this (f***ing) fly drilled its way into your spine was something that Cactus Canvas really saved the day with. It appeared that although my top half was open to attack, my legs were shielded with a Tsetse proof fabric. I soon found that the heat of the dry season made the SuperTrousers incredibly hot to wear, fortunately the SuperShorts proved to be a welcome exchange. 
 
The longevity of the clothing I wore certainly surprised me. Having spent my entire life in the outdoors (mainly in New Zealand) I have worn out a good amount of gear. 
 
In 2012 I began Conservation work in Fiordland. For this we were provided a Cactus DeepWinter Pack. Despite being constantly filled with eggs and meat (which in the Summer would sometimes turn into a concoction of meaty egg juice), thrown from Helicopters, dragged over rocks and through thick bush, The packs were unbelievably hardy (they could be filled with water at the end of a trip and still seemed waterproof!!!), it was fantastic to find a company that was prioritising quality and hardiness, especially for the way we Kiwis like to travel in the outdoors. My loyalty for New Zealand Made outdoor equipment was strengthened not only because of the quality and fact that real ‘people’ could be consulted, but because the ethics from production to sales were completely inline with what I want to see more of in society.
 
For my time in Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia (Africa) I had the following Cactus Clothing: 
 
- Miklat Pack (Accompanied every field excursion) 
- Slim SuperTrousers (Ultimate Tsetse Fly Shield - Featured in the 'Making of Spy in the Wild') 
- Mens Merino Tee (Blue - Tsetse Flies Favourite Colour - Yet only discovered this after arriving)
- Lightweight SuperShorts (Worn for 45 days consecutively - 16 hours a day) 
- Mens Merino Daily Fix Long Sleeve (Worn every morning) 
- Windhoody (Worn every morning) 
- Gold Digger Hat (Washed Once when Covered in Hyena Slobber - Worn Every Day = 3920 Hours) 
- POD Wallet (Very useful - Stored Memory Cards and Pain Killer) 
- BBB - Big Burly Bag (Handles 32kg No Problem - I had a UK Canvas bag of a similar size that has accumulated numerous holes - the Cactus BBB is hole free!!)  
 
To check out what else Mat gets up to take a look at his Instagram here. It's truly amazeballs! 

Comments | Posted By Cactus Outdoor

 

 

This summer Nigel spent a month living and working at King Edward Point on the island of South Georgia one of the most isolated places in the world, the climate is extremely harsh and the landscape is inhospitable but also magnificent. Nigel very kindly took the time to write to us to tell us about it:

 

The Allardyce range which dominates the interior of the island contains several towering peaks including Mount sugar-top and Mount Paget which at almost 3000 meters is the tallest peak on the island. This along with dozens of extensive glaciers such as the Neumayer and Nordenskjöld glaciers which sweep down the into the bays and inlets that cluster along the coast make this island a wonder of the natural world.

 

Not only is the landscape incredibly beautiful but the island is an important breeding site for Albatross, petrel and penguin population and also Antarctic fur seals and elephant seals, some 3 million Antarctic fur seals make South Georgia there home during the summer months.

 

I was working for a New Zealand based company called Indigena Biosecurity International which has the contract for the control of Invasive plants on the island, these include grasses and herbaceous plants some introduced from the Falklands 1,550 kilometers away.

 

While working on the contract I was able to visit many amazing places on the island not only many of the beaches, glaciers and coastlines but also the remnants of the whaling stations, which made this isolated island a huge industrial center while they were open and making money for there owners.

 

Now the workers than ran these stations have disappeared along with the whales that once swam in these waters, leaving only the rusting remnants and industrial wreckage behind.

 

While I was there I was comfortable wearing a pair of Trade plus supertrousers and Cactus collared jacket and was able to pack the gear needed for the days work in a Cactus miklat backpack.

 

All the Cactus gear I brought with me I found to be stylish, hard wearing and most importantly warm, the Supertrousers in particular were great at keeping out the wind and light to moderate rain a big plus in a place like South Georgia!

 

The collared jacket was perfect for both work purposes and also relaxing after work with its comfortable but practical look and minimalist functional design.

 

All in all the Cactus gear lived up to its reputation as durable, practical outdoor gear, and I would recommend them to anyone interested in them for work or play.

Comments | Posted By Cactus Outdoor

WELCOME ANNA

2/03/17 3:22 PM

 

WELCOME ANNA


We're all super excited to have a new member of the Cactus crew. Anna is our new customer services whizz. If you ever call or email, it'll be Anna you'll be talking to. Anna fits in well here - she loves bike riding, cactus's (the plants), climbing, tramping, surfing and DIY. With her partner, she's built her very own tiny house. It's pretty impressive. There's a stuff article all about it here or for more pics check out her blog. We'll also post any updates on our Facebook page.

 

Comments | Posted By Cactus Outdoor

 


As the Karapoti’s longest running sponsor, Cactus was proud to be the main sponsor at this year’s event.


Established in 1986, the Karapoti Classic is the Southern Hemisphere’s longest running mountain bike event. Located just outside Wellington in the Akatarawa ranges, the Karapoti’s 50km course incorporates river crossings, steep climbs and technical descents all set among native forest. The classic Lemans style start sees competitors straight into the infamous Akatarawa River crossing, with depths often between waist and shoulder height depending on rainfall. Just the way to wake the body up before tackling one of the first gut busting climbs.

Previous years of hot, sunny and settled February weather were not to be as racers were greeted with gloomy, rainy and muddy conditions for what was going to be an exciting event. The average weather seen the usual turnout of 800+ racers dwindle to 600 hearty racers to brave the start line for the mad dash across the cool Akatarawa River and then into the gruelling 50km course.

 

 

As usual, the 2017 Cactus Karapoti Classic was not without drama, with many racers suffering from mechanicals and crashes due to the adverse trail conditions. Among finishers for the 50k Challenge included Lucy Jurke and Emily Hannah, aged 11, the youngest ever finishers in the events 32year history, well done!

 With a stacked field of riders from over 8 countries, the men and women’s overall winners included Kyle Ward, one of Australia’s top riders, and NZ’s own Samara Sheppard finishing just shy of the women’s course record at a time of 2hrs 42min (impressive given the conditions).

 

 

Another event for the day included the Cactus 5K Kids Challenge which saw over 100 under 11’s tackle a muddy course with multiple river crossings. A great introduction into mountain bike racing for the youngsters, proving they were tough enough to turn up and have a blast on what was a great event regardless of the weather. 

 

 

 

Event information, results and post race report available here

 

Comments | Posted By Shaun Kirton

CACTUS & COLD BREW

1/02/17 11:08 AM

 

 

 

Harpoon is a dedicated cold brew coffee company based in South Dunedin and selling in grocery stores throughout the country.


When Arjun started the business in 2015 he put a message out to see if anyone wanted the coffee grounds, which are a useful by-product of coffee brewing. A stranger at the time, Tod Coxhead, jumped at the offer and started collecting them regularly for his garden. A couple of years later, Tod is a business partner of Harpoon Cold Brew Coffee and head of production. With the popularity of Cold Brew Coffee on the rise, Tod has been looking for ways to get rid of the ever increasing amount of coffee grounds. As a result there are help-yourself-bins outside the cold brewery on Glasgow Street and they've gone to community gardening groups like Youthgrow and the Polytech gardens. The most recent batch has been taken by trailer to a friends garden to nurture their fruit trees. So far not a single gram of grounds has gone to landfill.

 


"Cold brew coffee is easy to make but hard to perfect. You've got to consider the beans, roast, grind, brew time and temperature to name a few of the variables. Currently we're using a Brazillian coffee which has notes of milk chocolate and a long clean finish. We don't use any sugar or indeed anything besides water and coffee to make our cold brew, so extracting just the right flavours from the coffee is imperative. It's takes a lot of trialing and patience but we're damned proud of the end result. We're pretty excited to share our cold brew with cactus customers that appreciate quality." David from Harpoon


 

Photoshoot.

 

Cold Brew coffee is a tasty refreshing drink all year round, but particularily in summer. It may not replace your morning (hot) brew but it's ideal and extremely convenient for a delicious smoko drink or an afternoon, chilling in the backyard, refreshing pick-me-up. It's a heck of a lot better for you than a sugary energy drink and it tastes better too.

 

 

For more info about Harpoon Cold Brew head along to their website here

 

 



FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY GRAB A FREE HARPOON COLD BREW WITH ANY IN STORE CANVAS LEG WEAR PURCHASE!*


*While stocks of legwear and cold brew last. In store only. Cactus T's & C's apply. 

 



Comments | Posted By Cactus Outdoor

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