Outlander actors Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, aka the Men in Kilts, have welcomed fans on another road trip to gorgeous New Zealand – the land of Hobbits, adrenaline-pumping adventure, and the fascinating Mori culture. From start to finish, Men in Kilts: A Road Trip with Sam and Graham Season 2 is a joyful, adventurous, and laugh-filled adventure.
The travel docuseries originally aired in 2021, with Heughan and McTavish bringing viewers on an amusing journey of their native Scotland, featuring hearty cuisine and drink, the country’s famed Highland Games, Celtic music and dance, and the history-changing Battle of Culloden.
The first season was an amusing and instructive achievement, made much more enjoyable by the banter between real-life friends Heughan and McTavish. Season 2 is made even more fun by their chemistry as co-hosts if such a thing is even conceivable.
If you’re not a fan of Outlander, don’t worry; these two make terrific tour guides not just in their own nation, but also in New Zealand. McTavish, by the way, purchased a property in New Zealand after filming The Hobbit trilogy and has resided there ever since. That’s why Season 2 visits his adopted hometown, and it’s a terrific visit.
The series is shot in such a manner that you feel like you’re going along in the caravan with the couple as they tease each other and occasionally share valuable cultural and historical insights.
McTavish discusses Scotland’s effect on New Zealand culture in Episode 1, “Scottish Influence,” since many Scots immigrated to the island country years ago. “It is one of the most beautiful places in the world,” McTavish adds, and with stunning vistas of snow-covered mountains, foggy hills, gently lapping lakes, and meadows full of grazing sheep, it’s difficult to disagree.
As established in Season 1 of Men in Kilts, Heughan is always attempting to convince McTavish to face his concerns by engaging in risky activities such as mountain climbing and extreme sports. Heughan is definitely brave, though a little mad, as proven by him taking McTavish ziplining, swimming with great white sharks, and floating down a hillside in a bubble, all while smiling and applauding as McTavish panics and cries.
It’s amusing to those of us watching from the comfort of our own homes, and I’m sure the guys’ reactions are probably exaggerated for the cameras — but it works because you find yourself laughing along with Heughan while wondering why McTavish goes along with some of these crazy ideas.
The final sequence is really remarkable — some could say daring or death-defying — but I won’t give anything away. All you have to do is look at it and determine if you have the guts to accomplish anything like that yourself. (I, for one, say hell no.)
After leaving the adrenaline rush of extreme sports (after all, bungee-jumping was founded by a Kiwi), Episode 2 delves into the indigenous Mori culture. It’s a respectful and enlightening look at a culture that has existed in New Zealand since the 1300s.
They, too, were driven from their villages by colonisation, but in recent decades, the Mori has made a comeback, although accounting for barely 17% of New Zealand’s population. Heughan and McTavish, both completely Caucasian, greet the Mori people in their customary manner and begin the programme by admitting openly that they are Scottish and wish to learn politely.
It’s wonderful to see them engaging and learning Mori traditions and practises while also completely embracing their own Scottish culture — even if they are wearing kilts the entire time.
In the Mori episode, a tattoo artist utilises their personal tales to create body art on each of the guys’ arms, which is one of the series’ most emotional moments. McTavish discusses the significance of family in New Zealand and how much he values his girls, but Heughan explains that his father abandoned him when he was young and he only got to know him much later in life.
With the third episode including an intensive tour of Kiwi cuisine and drink, McTavish suggests packing your luggage — and one additional mouth. Heughan and McTavish discover the significance of bees and honey in New Zealand.
McTavish claims that the Kiwis put honey in everything since beekeeping is such an important component of the agricultural economy. The show even taught me that bee nectar may survive for 100 years. That is the epitome of sustainability.
The lads also learn that dairy is a big sector in New Zealand, which leads to a lot of cow jokes. Seriously, if there’s a joke with “moo” or “udder” in it, Heughan or McTavish will jump on it — and it’s genuinely hilarious rather than frustrating. They share some entertaining moments, despite being almost attacked by a really obnoxious cow.
“The Last Call,” the penultimate episode, crams in a little bit of everything, from more adrenaline-pumping action to a visit to Weta, the special effects firm behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Without going into spoilers, this segment of the show is one of the funniest episodes of the series.
It’s amusing because it demonstrates that Sam Heughan is more than just a smouldering romantic hero. With McTavish’s unique sense of humour, the two of them create the ideal conceivable combo for a programme like this.
If I had one criticism, it would be that the season isn’t longer. Men in Kilts seemed to have barely touched the surface of what New Zealand has to offer in the four half-hour episodes offered for review. I wish I could have seen the famed jet boats that glide down a few inches of water, the Hobbiton location from The Lord of the Rings films, or the amazing biodiversity that is unique to New Zealand.
Season 2 leaves you wanting more and, if you have the means, maybe planning your ticket. Let’s hope Heughan and McTavish reconvene for another entertaining road trip, whether via Scotland, New Zealand, or somewhere completely different. You’ll enjoy having these two as travel buddies no matter where you go.