Book reviews: October 2014

If you're heading off for some well-deserved R&R, there's no better time to grab a great book. Peta Stavelli reviews some of the latest offerings from New Zealand publishing houses.

Paradise Saved

Dave Butler, Tony Lindsay, Janet Hunt
Penguin Random House Books, $55 Book _review _1

As soon as I saw Janet Hunt's name among the co-authors of this attractive and substantial book, I knew it would impress. Hunt is an ecologist who tackles the hard topics and celebrates the collective successes of passionate individuals making a difference. Her previous works include Wetlands of New Zealand, which won the environment category of the Montana Book Awards. It is one of my treasured books.

Here, she is one of three dedicated conservationists celebrating the stories of New Zealand wildlife sanctuaries turning back the tide of extinction. This is an inspirational book. Highly recommended.


Graham Warman and Paul Sorrell
Penguin NZ, $50.00 Book _review _2

Oamaru: New Zealand's living Victorian town is a celebration of Oamaru's outstanding architectural heritage and the fascinating characters who call it home. In a country where timber construction rules supreme, Oamaru's Victorian precinct is unique.

Ornately decorated whitestone buildings, that in the nineteenth century housed banks, hotels, and grain stores, have been lovingly restored and have become home to thriving artisan businesses that make this South Island centre one of the world's best examples of a living Victorian town. Oamaru is a Victorian town at work and this lovely book is sure to inspire you to go there.

Te Araroa

Geoff Chapple
Penguin Random House Books, $50 Book _review _3

This is the official guidebook of Te Araroa Trail: The Long Pathway, a continuous trail running from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Thirty-five years in the making, the trail was officially opened in late 2011. Author Geoff Chapple is a modern-day visionary who took the concept of a continuous trail running the length of New Zealand and turned it into a reality.

Until recently the CEO of the Trust, Chapple complements the 3D maps with a running commentary, describing the landscape, the flora and fauna encountered along the way, as well as the special features of particular parts of the trail. The maps, by leading mapmaker Roger Smith, of Geographx, break the 3000-kilometre trail into 40-kilometre sections. Meanwhile, the accompanying photographs will sear a desire to go there into your soul.

Singing Home the Whale

Mandy Hager
Penguin Random House Books, $20 Book _review _4

In the spirit of Witi Ihimaera's The Whalerider comes another New Zealand classic from Wellington author and 2014 Katherine Mansfield Menton fellowship winner Mandy Hager. Hager's uplifting book for young adults will appeal to all who value beautifully-crafted New Zealand fiction.

The story focuses on Will Jackson, whose fragile and hard-fought peace is again shattered when he finds a baby orca and fights to protect it in a hostile environment. This is an exciting, plot-driven story full of drama, tension, and romance which will keep the reader enthralled from start to finish.

Slow Food Fast

Simon and Alison Holst
Hyndman Publishing, $15 Book _review _5

If you've heard all the hype about why slow cookers really are a brilliant invention and you've considered buying one, this compact and comprehensive book may be all the inspiration to get on board the slow-food train.

There's no doubt about it — the Holsts' series of cookbooks always deliver simple, attainable, and reliable fare to get you started. As expected, this great little book will teach you the basics of soups, stews, pot roasts, and cassoulets.

Hard Country

Robin Robilliard
Penguin Random House Books, $40 Book _review _6

Robby Robilliard and her husband Garry arrived in Golden Bay in 1957. When they bought Rocklands, a marginal farm on the fringe of the Takaka Valley, bordering Abel Tasman National Park, they believed their dreams had come true. But Rocklands was a property no one else wanted.

Sixty years on, Robby and Garry still call Rocklands home. This engaging book is Robby's story of the decades in which she and Garry eked a living out of Rocklands, and of her encounters with the many and the varied local characters of Golden Bay.

For the latest reviews, subscribe to Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine here.

Keep up to date with news by signing up to's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook