Exploring NZ at ground level

September 25, 2015
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Wild About New Zealand: A Guide to our National Parks,

by Gus Roxburgh with Matt Philip and Peter Hayden; photographs by Jason Hosking (Random House NZ, RRP $55):

This comprehensive guide is based on the Natural History New Zealand-produced TV series of the same name, that was made to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the country’s first national park.

As Kiwis, we are generally pretty proud of our whole “clean, green” image but I think most of us realise that image isn’t becoming a little tarnished. During the past five years, the impact of what is termed “human interaction” – through the likes of intensive farming, deforestation and draining of wetlands – has resulted in New Zealand slipping 18 places on the Yale-Columbia Environmental Performance Index.

The 14 national parks packed into our compact but diverse little patch of Pacific paradise play a big role in presenting that clean, green image and attracting tourists and this book expands on the televison series, providing comprehensive information on each of those parks, what they have in the way of flora, fauna and facilities and on their history.

There are also interviews with notable locals, visitor guides, suggested itineraries and maps.

This is a lovely book to flick through, with stunning photography of our stunning parks, but it will also prove invaluable for anyone wanting to visit those parks.

That said, it is effectively a paperback and the price is perhaps a little steep.

A Walk a Day: 365 Short Walks in NZ,

by Peter Janssen (New Holland Publishers, RRP $35):

This would be a perfect companion the to the Guide to Our National Parks, and at $35 is pretty good value for money.

Walking is a popular pastime for Kiwis: unlike so many other methods of keeping fit an active, it doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment, special training or a lot of organising. If you’ve got a decent pair of shoes and a rough sense of diretion, you’re pretty much set.

All the walks featured in this book are three hours or less and while some of us might not class a three-hour excursion as a “short walk”, I suppose the more expert walkers out there are probably snorting with derision at the prospect of walking just three hours.

Each walk detailed in the book includes clear maps and notes on track gradients, along with any quirks you might need to know about. It covers all corners of the country and there is quite a wee clutch of southern walks featured.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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