Lars Vogel could be considered the Mr 4X4 of New Zealand, and the past couple of years has seen him steadily grow his brand 4WD New Zealand in the rapidly growing overlanding industry.
4WD New Zealand aims to create a community of like-minded adventurers who share a passion for the great outdoors.
We caught up with Lars recently to get to know him better.
The concept of 4WDing is becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand, what sparked your interest? And how long have you been 4WDing for?
It all began in 2015 when my partner and I bought and started outfitting our 70 series Landcruiser to do a month and a half long 4WD trip around the South Island of New Zealand. I was working in Australia at the time which exposed me to the endless possibilities of customising your 4WD. So I knew what I wanted to do.
The touring and overland scene is still very small in New Zealand, therefore we started 4WD New Zealand as travel blog in which we shared our story of our vehicle build and started to document our adventures. We posted up some smaller videos on YouTube and things started to take off.
Tell us some more about NZ 4WD? And when did you decide to make it a full-time gig?
4WD New Zealand is New Zealand’s first adventure travel/overlanding Series by 4WD, our inspiration has come from shows like Pat Callinan’s 4X4 adventures, All 4 Adventure, Expedition Overland, and so on.
Although I’d love to call it a full-time gig, I still have a regular job to go back to. As a seafarer, I work time-on/time-off which gives me about half the year to focus on 4WD New Zealand.
What’s the best aspect of your job and what is the hardest?
The best part about 4WD New Zealand is planning and going on epic adventures and taking some of the best products on the market along with me. And then I get to share that adventure with the world.
What is your dream vehicle?
That’s a tough choice, I love my old 70 series and have been eyeing up a new 76 series wagon. But the space, luxury and power you get in a 200 series is also tempting. I have also been looking at the new X-Class Ute so I guess time will tell.
What makes 4WDing in New Zealand distinctly different to other destinations around the world such as Australia?
New Zealand is very diverse, yes, we don’t have such vast distances like Australia, and we can get away with only having one fuel tank but scenery wise there’s nothing like an untouched west coast black sand beach or a track through the southern alps. Imagine the Victorian high country the size of the South Island.
Where is your favourite 4WDing destination in the North Island and favourite in the South?
My favourite place to explore in the North Island has to be the Famous Pouto point, the sand dunes and camping is just fantastic. As for the South Island it must be The Oteke Conservation Park, spending over two days in low range with more river crossings than I can remember and reaching snow at 1,800m in the middle of summer.
What are the top three accessories you have installed in your vehicle?
The most important accessory has to be the fridge, as it allows is to shop as if we are at home and being able to have a cold beer at the end of the day is pretty good too.
Next up has to be our Manager30 Battery Management System from REDARC and the Revolution Lithium battery, without them we would not be able to operate our production equipment off the grid.
Finally, the awning. We use it more for cooking at night in the rain than any other time but it keeps you dry.
If you could give one piece of advice to somebody who is 4WDing for the first time, what would it be?
Do a bit of research about where you want to explore, get yourself a good set of tyres and an air compressor. Get out there and explore. Everything else will follow as you become more experienced.
Once you're all set-up at camp what’s your favourite way to unwind?
I love sitting around a campfire having a good yarn with good company and a cold beer.
Why did you choose to work with REDARC over other companies with similar product offerings?
From early on I have been very careful about what companies 4WD New Zealand should work with. As a good brand ambassador, it is important that you believe in the products you are representing. I chose to work with REDARC because of the quality of their products. Having relied on our REDARC Battery Management System whilst out filming, it really works extremely well.
REDARC is also a very innovative company who was quick to see the value in what 4WD New Zealand was and is becoming.