The life of truckers all around the world isn’t an easy one, but they somehow make the best out of every difficult situation. That’s the case with the stars of “Great Southern Truckers”, a factual trucking show based in New Zealand, which showcases a quite huge variety of drivers who every day risk their lives on some of the most dangerous, but admittedly beautifully-landscaped roads of the country’s North and South Islands.

While the concept of truck shows isn’t really new in reality TV, what makes “Great Southern Truckers” different from any other show in the genre is how it easily approaches how life really is for those in the industry, leaving aside drama and focusing instead on the personal experiences of every driver on the road and their background.

So what is the untold truth about “Great Southern Truckers”? Stay with us to discover all!

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The Cast Is Very Varied

If there’s something about “Great Southern Truckers” it’s how its cast is one of a kind. While truck-centered shows usually follow the tough-guys-working formula, “Great Southern Truckers” features a wide variety of people from all backgrounds, including not only workers from construction and logistics industries, but also drivers from the entertainment industry, farming, and many rookies trying to make a living out of this unforgiving, but exciting career.

As if that wasn’t enough, the show stands out for having an extensive female cast, who share the spotlight equally with their male counterparts, which isn’t usual in the trucking-for-TV genre. Overall, the audience has many options when it comes to choosing their favorite drivers.

Some Cast Members Have Another Show

While most faces in “Great Southern Truckers” might not be familiar to anyone watching it for the first time, the truth is that some of its cast members are featured in another reality show as well. We’re talking about the Weber family, in charge of the Weber Bros Circus, and partial owners of The Great Moscow Circus, both of which are featured in the show.

However, while “Great Southern Truckers” pays attention to both circus’ drivers and heavy-duty staff who struggle every day to make it in time, the Webers’ other series entitled “The Circus” focuses on what happens inside the tent, offering its audience a deeper insight into the mysterious and rarely explored life of circus performers.

All the four seasons of “The Circus” aired to date are produced by Stripe Studios, the company also in charge of “Great Southern Truckers”. As well, “The Circus” has also been distributed in Australia, the UK and the US, though the international focus of the show isn’t surprising at all considering what the Webers profession is like: ‘the circus is a very multicultural society, we have many people from many different countries, and we all come together’, as Marie Weber told The Spinoff in 2021.

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It Has Movie-Like Landscapes

There are many good things to say about “Great Southern Truckers”, but if there’s something about the show which really stands out is how stunning the places it was filmed in are. As each trucker deals with the difficulties of loading tonnes of construction material and equipment, it’s impossible for the viewers not to admire the gorgeous mountainous roads and landscapes from New Zealand’s South Island, particularly West Coast regions.

If viewers find those natural scenarios a little too familiar, then it’s for a good reason. Some of these places have been famously featured in renowned films such as “The Lord Of The Rings” saga and “King Kong” just to name two.

There’s A Trucking Prize Holder

While reality TV shows’ main focus is to entertain its audience, it’s always great to know that the people we see on screen are actually good at what they do, such as the case of young trucker Summer Ratima Thompson, featured in “Great Southern Truckers” first episode.

As it happens, Summer was recognized as 2019’s Young Driver of the Year by the Road Transport Industry Awards in New Zealand. The award came with a $1,500 check, and is a co-operative effort by the industry to not only uplift and support young truckers in a field dominated by middle-aged men: ‘While we have appropriately awarded those who have been in the industry a long time, we added two awards this year to recognise women and young drivers’, as the organization’s then-president Nick Leggett told NZ Trucking.

Although there’s no questioning Summer’s talent behind the wheel, her early success in the industry also seems like a destiny trick. Prior to joining the trucking workforce, Summer was a barista whose hobby of asking truckers about their jobs ultimately inspired her to finally join the industry in her mid-20s, so finally finding her place in the world. Needless to say, life has compensated her well for following her dreams.

Shane’s Company Do Interesting Things

Even though “Great Southern Truckers” offers a new and fresh perspective on New Zealand’s trucking industry, the show is mainly focused on the life stories of those behind the wheel, and not so much on the companies involved.

However, there’s actually a fair number of interesting businesses employing these drivers, such as the case of the second episode’s trucker Shane Rapana, whose employer Ward Demolition takes people’s attention for more than just bringing down buildings. Founded in the late 1980s, the business started from the bottom to eventually become widely popular in the field for using sustainability plans to reduce their environmental impact, as well as reducing material waste in their operation, which have gained them the World Demolition Awards’ recognition in categories such as Environmental Best Practices and Recycling.

Nonetheless, probably the most eye-catching aspect of the company is having a V8 Ute race team, whose main driver Peter Ward is also the company’s owner and founder. That being said, while Shane’s trucking work keeps him away from the demolition operations and the drag tracks, he also could be found in exciting live blogs about his job on Ward Demolition’s social media.

Drama Isn’t The Focus

As is usual, reality series are known for showing a deal of drama to keep audiences entertained, and with juicy topics to talk about. Nonetheless, “Great Southern Truckers” stayed away from that route, and focused instead on providing a sincere, down-to-earth view of what New Zealand’s real truckers are actually like.

Regarding this topic, “Great Southern Truckers” producer Alex Breingan is aware that even if some aspects of the show might give-off an exaggerated impression to some, ‘the series is designed to show the audience what truck drivers do and put up with’, he affirmed, also emphasising that the focus on beginner-truckers might inspire young audiences to pursue careers in transportation.

Also according to Breingan, the show not only wants to attract the attention of people not involved in the transportation industry, but to be a wakeup call to those in the industry as well, regarding some important issues: ‘we highlight the terrible state of the roads in many parts of New Zealand, and the behavior of other drivers on the road’, he told NZ Truck & Driver in August 2022.

Definitely, “Great Southern Truckers” is a show fit for anyone who is searching for something different on TV.

There’s A TikTok Star In The Show

Needless to say, most drivers in “Great Southern Truckers” are not necessarily popular in the industry, especially the beginners. Nonetheless, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule, such as the case of the aforementioned award winner Summer Ratima Thompson, and the TikTok star Julie Smith, whose profile on the video sharing platform with the user @truckdrivingchick21, has over 50,000 followers and has accumulated almost 800,000 likes.

Although Julie’s popularity online is due to her light-hearted personality and anecdotes, she’s fairly accomplished in trucking as well. In fact, at 21 years old she became the first graduate from her company’s Mainstream Transport’s cadet program, a title she persevered in chasing down by emailing and phoning the company: ‘I didn’t want to give up on my dream. That was what I wanted to do, truck driving is in my mind’, as Julie stated in an interview with New Zealand politician Judith Collins in June 2021.

Julie can’t point out exactly what made her choose that company specifically, but her perserverence paid off when they accepted her as a recruit. By the time “Great Southern Truckers” featured her in the show, Julie had already been a full-time truck and trailer driver for half a year.

A Star Has Eight Children

If it isn’t obvious already, “Great Southern Truckers” features a wide variety of people with inspiring stories. That also applies to the Webers, due to their deep involvement with the circus industry, but besides having the most eye-catching career in the show, their family dynamics are also quite interesting.

Harry and Marie Weber have been together for several decades, and their family has grown along with their Weber Bros Circus. It all started when Marie escaped home in her childhood to join the circus, without knowing that she would find the love of life in it. Fast forward to present days, the couple has had eight children, with their oldest daughters Kiarnna and Kaleah the most popular in the clan through their involvement in the TV show “The Circus”.

Regarding why they decided to have so many kids, Marie admits it simply happened: ‘We thought we were done having babies, then all of a sudden… surprise! I love being pregnant. I love babies’, she told Woman’s Day magazine. Knowing this, it isn’t a question of why Marie affirmed being ‘the circus mom’ in front of “Great Southern Truckers” cameras, as there’s no more fitting title for her.

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Some Truckers Are Rather Creative

Surprisingly perhaps, some drivers in “Great Southern Truckers” are inclined to the creative field. While this is obvious in the case of Martin Espana, who is both a performer and driver for the Weber Bros Circus, some other truckers have their fair share of artistic talent.

Hawke’s Bay native Kerry Crosby has a couple of talents up her sleeve. Before becoming a full-time truck driver, Kerry was a hairdresser and apparently pretty good at what she did. Although she ended up leaving that career in her 40s, after discovering her true passion behind the wheel, Kerry and her daughter Liz Crosby-Campbell, who also appears in the show, defy together the concept of what truckers must look like.

For her part, Summer Ratima Thompson is also inclined to the arts. The barista-turned-trucker loves playing guitar and singing, talents she demonstrated during an interview in local TV show “Seven Sharp”, as host Michael Holland managed to borrow Summer’s guitar with the help of her family, so that she could play and sing in front of the cameras.

Needless to say, trucking might be these drivers’ biggest love but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any side interests.

One Trucker Had Some Things To Clear Up

Trucker Liz Crosby-Campbell from Hawke’s Bay has an interesting backstory. She’s been splitting her time between full-time trucking and raising her daughter, but does it all so well that she ended up inspiring her mother Kerry to join the trucking industry in her mid-40s.

However, a certain detail about her was the subject of a small controversy. As seen in “Great Southern Truckers”, the story of a serious accident suffered by Liz years before gave some context about the dangers of on-road accidents. The pics shown were from another accident before becoming a trucker, as she affirmed on her Facebook: ‘I had a water accident, I needed this surgery due to my L4-L5 disc herniating & shutting my bladder down!’, she wrote, affirming that the accident she talked about in the show happened in 2019, and wasn’t very serious, but the images were mixed and somehow confused people.

While it’s unconfirmed if Liz received some type of negative message related to this confusing detail in the show, the fact she admitted to being ‘annoyed’ at having to write that post, makes it highly possible.

Filming Was Interrupted

Even though “Great Southern Truckers” resulted in a great show, making it a reality wasn’t a smooth process. Filming actually started in early 2020, but the COVID-19 restrictions implemented a couple of months later made it impossible to finish that process at once.

Filming finally finished in 2021, and included gorgeous-looking on location scenery all around both major islands of New Zealand. After undergoing a months-long post-production process, the show was ready for national and international distribution, reaching audiences in Australia, Canada and the US. All in all, the production effort put into the show will surely be well compensated, but the most important part is how the inspiring messages and the reality of these drivers is spreading all around the world.

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