South Pacific Pictures series High Country Rescue follows search and rescue volunteers as they respond to crises across Wanaka and Fiordland. Cameras follow the team from briefings at headquarters to daring recovery missions, as adventurers are rescued from remote spots on the surrounding hills. It’s not all serious though: for many the worst injury is to their pride. Neither are the rescuers immune from trouble — one episode sees a rescuer getting a ute stuck up a hill, and having to be saved by a bloke who recently put his truck in a river.
This 2002 Touchdown series followed rangers working for the Department of Conservation and Ministry of Fisheries. The series covered work with threatened species — ranging from kākāpō, kiwi and native lizard recovery programmes, to Hector’s dolphin in marine reserves. Other episodes included management of Abel Tasman National Park, and mountain rescue work at Aoraki/Mount Cook. Ten 30 minute episodes screened on TV One. According to the Department of Conservation's annual report for 2002, the series attracted high ratings and received excellent reviews.
Popco slotted in after Movin’ and before Norman, as part of a long tradition of Christchurch music shows which first began with Let’s Go in the early 60s. It featured a studio band, the Maggie Burke Dancers and vocalists including Bunny Walters, Annie Whittle, Tom Sharplin and Rob Guest, who performed the hits of the day. There were appearances from local acts including Ticket and Chapta, and overseas performers like Lindisfarne and Gary Glitter (who was overcome with vertigo and had to be rescued from a high diving board at QE2 pool, after miming one of his hits).
This popular reality series follows the lives of dogs and their handlers, who work for the Departments of Conservation and Corrections, plus the Police, Civil Aviation and Search and Rescue. The canine squads help protect Kiwi streets, prisons, borders and mountains. Made for TVNZ by Cream Media and then Greenstone TV, nine series had been made up until 2018. Dog Squad also screens in Australia on Channel 7 (under the title Dog Patrol). Dominion Post writer Jane Clifton praised the show's “doggy-adorableness factor” and the “sheer novelty of the situations encountered.”
Hairy Maclary is a 10-part series adapted from the beloved children's books by Lynley Dodd. Animated by Euan Frizzell, the animated episodes follow Hairy and his canine mates (dachshund Schnitzel von Krumm, dalmatian Bottomley Potts and Old English Sheepdog Muffin McClay) on their Kiwi seaside adventures: from a rumpus at the vet, to the rescue from a tree of Hairy's tomcat tormenter ... Scarface Claw! Miranda Harcourt narrates, conveying the rhythms of Dodd's prose which have seen the stories sell several million copies around the world.
Arriving for a photo shoot in the Australian outback, 10 beauty pageant contestants are rescued by cowboys and taken to small-town Burra, where they end up competing in a reality show to "find the ultimate Kiwi chick". With $100,000 at stake, they try a variety of challenges while attempting to show the locals they’re more than a pretty face. Locals vote to oust a contestant each week, from a group that includes warring future-WAGs Casey Green and model-singer-actress Jessie Gurunathan. Gurunathan ultimately won the crown. Touchdown's format sold to 15 territories.
Company Touchdown Productions dominated Kiwi reality television in the early 2000s, thanks to a run of shows (Miss Popularity, The Chair, DIY Rescue). In 2004 they produced The Player, which featured a group of bachelors housed together in an apartment, exuberantly ‘playing’ the Auckland dating scene. Hosted by model Nicky Watson, the series was short-lived. Later Duncan Greive of website The Spinoff would proclaim that the show "remains one of the earthiest and most brilliantly base moments in New Zealand’s television history.”