Inside New Zealand - The Rob Hewitt Story

A first-hand account of this remarkable survival story
Thursday, March 1st at 8:30pm

The true story of one man’s perilous misadventure drifting alone in a cruel and lonely sea for four harsh days and three terrifying nights, on Inside New Zealand: Lost At Sea – The Rob Hewitt Story, screening Thursday, March 1st at 8:30pm.

On a bright summer day, ex-Royal New Zealand Navy diver Robert Hewitt joined friends for a recreational scuba dive off Mana Island, north of Wellington.

When a strong underwater current sweeps Rob far from the assigned diving area he loses the dive boat, and a massive search effort begins to find him.

The unpredictable currents carry Rob far northward of the rescue effort, and a Westpac helicopter, the Wellington Police Maritime Unit, Coast Guard and private boats converge on the area where Rob went missing and find no sign of him.

“[The helicopter] kept getting smaller and further and further away, and that realisation was one of loneliness and desperation,” says Hewitt.

As Rob is in the grip of Tangaroa, the Maori God of the sea, he begins to feel despair and suffers from dehydration and starvation.

He manages to survive four days and three nights of lonely isolation by drawing on his love of family, his navy training, and Maori warrior heritage.
On the morning of day four, Rob is close to death and suffering intense pain from skin infections, as sea lice are attaching themselves to his face. In despair and delusion, he gets rid of his wet suit and rolls over to die from hypothermia.

Last year, 3 screened an Inside New Zealand documentary called Made in Taiwan: Nathan and Oscar’s Excellent Adventure, about two young New Zealanders who go through DNA-tests to learn about their ancestors.

The documentary won top honours at the 4th Annual International Oceania Documentary Film Festival in Tahiti. New Zealand director Dan Salmon received both the jury’s Grand Prix and the Public’s Prize.

The nominated films came from Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Vanuatu, Australia, French Polynesia, Nauru, Hawaii and New Zealand.

Made In Taiwan was also a finalist at the Banff High Definition Documentary Festival in Canada last year.

Meanwhile, this week, find out how Rob Hewitt survived his four days and three nights lost in a cold and inhospitable sea? Inside New Zealand brings you the real story of his remarkable survival and rescue, screening Thursday, March 1st at 8:30pm.

For more information visit:

Subscribe to our mailing list

About the author

  • Jennifer

    I really enjoyed watching this documentary i would have loved to tape it. If it is possible it probably isnt but if it is could you please put it on again. as i said it was really really really good to watch. it must have been so cold and lonely and horrible being lost at sea for so long. Anyway i really enjoyed it.

  • dylan peterson

    rob hewitt is the man, i just read his book and have seen the doco also.
    all i can say is WOW, he truly is a walking legend.
    does he hold a world record??
    sounds like a really cool guy, and i hope to meet him someday. an inspiration to us all, really opened my eyes to the ‘real’ important things.

    ‘family is everything’
    i wish i could say this in maori and sound more orientated with my roots

  • Rob Hewitt

    Kia Ora Dylan
    I’m Glad you enjoyed the book..every day for me is a great day to be alive…lets hope we will catch up one day

    Naku Noa

  • Teinawolf

    i rimember this on 2006 on the news and i’m eight

  • Teinawolf

    i ment remember

  • Teinawolf

    i ment hen it was 2006
    its 2012

  • Israel

    rob am a Tongan from Australia and am Proud of you bro you a true hero’s diving in deep sea bro I have watch the film on TV here in Australia but need to upload to YouTube sow all young Polynesian can learn a lesson from this amassing stories how you survive on the deep waters

  • Israel

    I was on teas drop from my eyes when I sow this on TV amassing how god and tangaroa Maui and your love one guard you in the dark blue deep ocean shack comes and go but you steel show you have strong faith in god and Jesus Christ and Polynesian sprits of guardians’ of the ocean how long this useless rescue come to save the day but if there didn’t come the sprites of tangaroa the Polynesian guardians wont lets you go bro there will show the way home to your families

  • Tania

    Why do people keep bumping old threads?
    Regardless, I agree that this guy is amazing.