Trans-Tasman test series
Hamish and Andy take on New Zealand.
Hamish and Andy set off to stir up a famous rivalry.
IT'S hard to think of two more unlikely spokesmen for water safety than Hamish Blake and Andy Lee.
During their 2009 American Caravan of Courage special, a reluctant Lee plunged into alligator-infested waters in Florida's Everglades for a laugh. And, for Euro Gap Year, the boys made a failed - but painfully close - attempt to pedal an aqua trike from Europe to Africa.
Recently, while filming in New Zealand for one of the two new television specials that will screen on the next two Sundays, they hatched a plan to deliver mail to Marlborough Sounds - a vast network of waterways at the tip of the country's South Island - that ended with the pair in a hovercraft, being battered by fierce rain and heavy winds.
''We weren't hovercraft owners for a long time,'' Blake says. ''I now understand why, when you look out to the bay on a choppy day, you do not see a lot of hovercraft zipping around out there.
''The mail, luckily, was in a waterproof bag … a lot of it was advertising, but when you're a single bloke living on a remote island, a Bras N Things catalogue can help.''
This year, the duo's stocks have continued to rise: Blake won a Gold Logie in April; the original Gap Year series was named most popular light-entertainment program at the same event; and their European follow-up, aired in the lead-up to the Olympics, was a success for Channel Nine.
That series drew an average consolidated audience across the five capital cities of 1.39 million during its seven-week run - a gain of more than 30 per cent on the original Gap Year.
Now, the larrikins are back with Hamish and Andy's Caravan of Courage: Australia v New Zealand, in which the pair will settle the fierce trans-Tasman rivalry.
The criteria? ''Just general vibe,'' Blake says.
The pair had long wanted to drive across both countries in a ''very scientific compare-and-contrast manoeuvre'', he says.
In the two specials, Blake and Lee pursue (mis)adventure across both countries, discovering a nude rugby club, bee beards and sheep racing. In New Zealand's Fiordland, the pair camp overnight, joining a man on his search for moose once introduced to the region for hunting purposes, but that have not been seen for decades.
''They kind of gave them a 10-year head start and I think they needed more of a 50-year head start,'' Lee says of the animal.
Blake says: ''They were probably thinking, 'this is awesome, no one's bothering us, we can just breed,' but little did they know everyone was cleaning their weapons, waiting for the start of moose-hunting season.''
The pair play into the trans-Tasman rivalry.
''I think New Zealand has the feeling like we're … not laughing at them, but putting ourselves on a pedestal when we're not because they are comparatively a much littler country,'' Blake says.
''I don't think Australia feels too violently toward New Zealand. That's the fun thing about the rivalry - it's a brotherly rivalry.''
As for the boys' next move, the Melbourne lads are coy.
''That will probably be a discussion for early December over a beer in the sun,'' Lee says.
Right now, the pair are happy to soak in the experience of filming Hamish and Andy's Caravan of Courage: Australia v New Zealand, and remain awestruck by the scale and history of their home country.
''We're not saying that will give Australia the win. Just saying it's looking very good for Australia at this stage,'' Blake says.
''I can't think of a counter-compliment for New Zealand, but that doesn't mean there isn't one. Good luck New Zealand.''
Hamish and Andy's Caravan of Courage airs Sunday on Nine.