Showing posts with label Tramping Literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tramping Literature. Show all posts

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Tramping Literature: A bunk for the night: A guide to New Zealands best backcountry huts

More good tramping reading!

Some people are into cook books, some like books on photography, sports or gardening. I like outdoor books...I don't care what the subject is so long as it features the outdoors. I currently have 60+ books on tramping, climbing, hunting, outdoor cookery, trail skills, the Te Araroa Trail etc. etc. 

I recently brought myself a new book: A Bunk for the Night: A Guide to New Zealand's Best Backcountry Huts. In a way this is a companion piece for an earlier work by the same authors, Shelter from the Storm also about our back country hut network.

A bunk for the night, new tramping literature

A Bunk for the Night is a photographic essay on the authors favourite huts, it explains what makes them special and includes historical information and trail notes. It is excellent and features many of those classic huts your average Kiwi tramper visits. There are huts here from the top of the North Island right down to Stewart Island in the deep south.

Pinnacles Hut, Coromandel Peninsula is in the book...

...so is John Tait Hut, Nelson Lakes NP...


...and also Nina Hut, Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve.

If you know someone who tramps, this would be an excellent birthday or Christmas gift. Or buy it as a memento of your visit to our fair isles. I brought mine from Paper Plus a local book store chain, it cost me $39.50 NZD which I think is a reasonable price. I have seen copies in most of the larger book stores, it is also available direct from the publishers.

East Ruggedy Hut,  Kaikuria National Park is one of the huts mentioned


The photos and general production values are great and the three authors are informative and knowledgeable. They are all well known for their involvement in Kiwi tramping/climbing circles.

 Highly recommended!

Friday, 16 January 2015

New Tramping Literature: Shelter from the Storm & Tramping: A New Zealand Story

New books about Tramping in New Zealand

One of my passions are books about tramping, climbing and the outdoors, particularly books about these pursuits in a  New Zealand context. I have a growing collection of classic tramping titles as well as guides, personal histories and biographies in my own library. Here are a couple of excellent books I received for Christmas, both with a tramping theme.

Shelter from the Storm: Shelter from the Storm:  The Story of New Zealand's Backcountry Huts

By  Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown, Geoff Spearpoint



Shelter from the storm is an older book, published in 2013, but I have been hinting that I would like a copy of it for some time, and received one this last Christmas. It is a photographic tour de force which details examples of the over 900 tramping huts scattered around the country. The authors will be well known to NZ trampers from their publishing, tramping and official roles within various tramping clubs and the FMC.
Each entry has a photo of the hut along with a short history: location,  why it was built and by whom & how it is still being used. Entries are broken down into the major period's of hut construction such as colonial, working huts, trampers huts, NZFS, DOC etc.  Interposed with this are feature articles about aspects of hut builders, the role of tramping clubs and personal anecdotes of visits to particular huts.
It is an excellent read, the photos are top notch as well as being an inspiration to get out there and visit these locations.


Tramping: A New Zealand Story 

 By Shaun Barnett & Chris Maclean


Another well received Christmas present was Tramping: A New Zealand Story, possibly the closest thing we will ever see to a comprehensive history of the outdoor pursuit we call Tramping. The authors have done an outstanding job of laying out the history of tramping in New Zealand, its legends and lore as well as the forces which have influenced it.
The book is written in chronological order starting with the early Maori migrants right through to the present day. There is information about notable personalities as well as notable events in the development of outdoor recreation and tramping in New Zealand. The text is informative and interesting and there is a wealth of fine photographs and illustrations. This is all bound together in a very attractive book for either coffee table or book shelf.


Taken together these two books give an excellent introduction to the history of tramping and back country huts in this country, I thoroughly recommend both.

Monday, 22 September 2014

BMH: Books for Mountain Huts

Books for Mountain Huts


I had an idea for an initiative I'm going to start while I'm out tramping.

I really enjoy reading the magazines and books that people leave in tramping huts, you get an eclectic mix from books, FMC/Wilderness journals, hunting catalogues, Woman's Weekly to Marie Claire. I've decided that I will start planting books/magazines in the huts that I visit, for the edification of fellow trampers.

Magdalen Hut, the table top magazine stash


Some of these will be books withdrawn from the library I work at, some from my own collection and other items will be newly brought.

Examples of ex library books to be donated
My idea is to systematically leave these items for anyone to use, both at the start/finish of longer tramps and individual huts. I'm going to label them and leave a message to please leave for the next person/ in the same catchment. Hopefully, these items will move back and forth along tramping routes and provide some useful recreation for people spending the night in a hut.

I just chuck a small book into my pack when I'm going out for a tramp, I tend to use novels although I have dropped a couple of thinner non fiction items as well. 

I know a lot of these will just get used as fire-lighters but that's OK as well. 

Interior Boyle Flat Hut

Book drop off locations

Here is a list of locations I have left books at:

Hawdon Hut, Arthurs Pass NP (2)
Bealey Hut, Craigieburn CP
Andrews Shelter, Arthurs Pass NP (4)
Anti Crow Hut, Arthurs Pass NP
Bealey Spur Hut, Craigieburn CP
Lagoon Saddle Shelter, Craigieburn CP
Craigieburn Shelter, Craigieburn CP
Joihn Hayward Memorial Hut, Brooksdale Station (Near Porters Pass)
Mid Robinson Hut, Victoria FP
Lake Daniels Hut, Victoria FP
Cannibal Gorge Hut, Lewis Pass SR
Ada Hut, Lewis Pass SR
Anne Hut, St James CA
Christopher Hut, St James CA
Magdalen Hut, Lake Sumner FP
Boyle Flat Hut, Lake Sumner FP
Rod Donald Hut, Banks Peninsula (2)
Packhorse Hut, Banks Peninsula (2)
Camp Bay Shelter, Queen Charlotte Track
Anakiwa Shelter, Queen Charlotte Track
Lakehead Hut, Nelson Lakes
Cupola Hut,  Nelson Lakes
Coldwater Hut, Nelson Lakes
Nina Hut, Lewis Pass SR

Watch this space for more locations!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Outdoor literature: Mountaineering books

Some books on mountaineering I found interesting


An important note: I am not a mountaineer, I have no pretensions to be one, I occasionally walk up mountains but I have no aspirations to climb Everest or any other really big mountain.
Any comments I make are therefore as a layman.
I have been slowly reading my way through some of the "classic" books about mountaineering and Mt Everest. There seems to be a veritable mountain of books on the subject: some of them are very informative, some mediocre others appear as apologia for one point of view or another. 

 I became interested in the subject after reading an anthology of articles on Mt Everest. It was excellent as a first introduction to the subject and lead to further reading. I intend to review a few of these books and may make comment on points raised within them.

View from the Summit: Sir Edmund Hillary

This is a book written by Ed Hillary in 1999, towards the end of his life. It is an autobiography of his climbing career and subsequent adventures in Antarctica and around the world. Sir Edmund Hillary is a kiwi icon, but I knew very little about his climbing apart from the famous Everest ascent. He had quite a respectable climbing career both in New Zealand and the Himalaya.

 He also covers his expeditions to Antarctica and the Ganges river as well as dealing with his charitable work in Nepal.
His writing style is spare: he was no journalist or professional writer, yet engaging none the less.

You do strike the odd cringe worthy passage, he writes several times about booting/kicking Sherpas/porters and refers to a intellectually handicapped person as a "cretin". I found this jarring but it is probably indicative of Hillary being a man of the 40-50's rather than anything else.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it as a good introduction to his history and writing style.

High Adventure: Sir Edmund Hillary


Another book by Ed Hillary this is his story of the lead up and climbing of Mt Everest in 1953. He covers aspects of his early years, the 1951 New Zealand expedition to the Himalaya, and the 1952 & 1953 British expeditions. The book is full of anecdotes about his time in the mountains, people he worked with, met and mountains climbed.

I was struck by how primitive and at the same time how advanced they were. Their organisation and siege style were the same as the 1930's British expeditions, yet their basic climbing techniques and gear are still in use today.

As Ive said earlier, Hillary's writing style is straightforward, but for all of that I really enjoyed this book, more so than his later writing efforts. I love the small details such as what he and Tensing ate the night before their summit of Everest (sardines/biscuits/dates/lemon drink and a frozen can of apricots in juice). It is the kind of climbing book I enjoy, what they did rather than how they felt.

This is an excellent volume about post war climbing in the Himalaya, go find a copy.

Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak, Maurice Herzog


Annapurna was the first 8'000 metre mountain to be climbed, it was conquered by a French team in 1950 lead by Maurice Herzog. It included a stellar list of the best French climbers and success was seen at the time as a matter of national pride.

The expedition to Annapurna was quite controversial, although they managed to reach the summit, several of the climbers ended up with frostbite injuries. There was a certain degree of disorganisation to the climbing plans, and several of the other climbers later spoke disparagingly of Herzog's leadership.



This book is considered by many people as the first (and possibly best) book ever written about climbing.  Although I enjoyed this book, the style did not really suit my taste. There is no doubt that it is very well written but because it was made in the 1950's it has a particular "boys own adventure" feel to it. It is full of lofty prose but light on actual detail of what they did on the mountain.

A must read if you are interested in the history of post war climbing

Lost on Everest : the search for Mallory & Irvine, P. L. Firstbrook



Who were the first two men to summit Mt Everest?

On June 8, 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine left their tent high up on the NE slopes of Mount Everest and climbed into history. They were seen at 12:50 pm just 800 feet from the summit and “going strong for the top”. Within minutes, Mallory and Irvine had disappeared in a snowstorm and were never seen alive again.

What happened to these two pioneering climbers is perhaps the most famous mystery in the history of mountaineering. For over 75 years there has been fierce debate over whether they were the first to reach the summit, doing so 29 years before Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. In March 1999 an expedition primarily sponsored by the BBC climbed to the North Face of Everest. The discoveries of this expedition became front page news around the world.

This is a gripping book, it fully explores the events leading up to Mallory and Irvine’s historic attempt to reach the summit, and gives a dramatic first-hand account of the search expedition. I could not put it down.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Tramping Literature: Beyond backpacking by Ray Jardine

The father of ultra-light: Ray Jardine

I recently received a copy of this book for my birthday. Ray Jardine is one of the original figures in the lightweight and ultra light weight hiking movement.

 A veteran (with his wife) of most of the long distance trails in the United States, this book is an explanation of the methods and equipment he utilised walking long distance trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail.

He has termed this the "Ray Way", a overarching method to travel further while carrying less.

Although this book is older (late 90's) and focused on the American hiking fraternity, I think it still has a lot to say for all trampers/hikers/ramblers regardless of their location. The main message is: travel light, steer clear of hauling the kitchen sink with you in the outdoors. It also has a strong environmental message about minimising our impact on the trail.
Here is a photo of Ray Jardine.
Ray Jardine
Seek out a copy or buy one second hand from Amazon, it makes a fine addition to any collection of hiking literature.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Alone in the Wild: Solo Tramping in New Zealand

Wilderness magazine covers solo tramping....

There is an interesting article about solo tramping in the March 2013 issue of Wilderness magazine (the NZ outdoor bible), which argues that tramping on your own can be a positive experience.

Wilderness Magazine cover for March 2013


There are many times when trampers want or need to venture out into the wild by themselves. Some prefer the solitude solo tramping provides while others have difficulty finding partners to join in their adventures. 

Solo tramping has traditionally been perceived as odd, ill advised or dangerous, these perceptions are slowly changing as the benefits of spending time by yourself are realised.  It would also seem that solo trampers are a growing outdoor group, going by the number of one person entries in hut books.


One advantage of solo tramping: a hut to yourself!

Tramping alone: Good or bad....you be the judge!


The general gist of the article is that solo tramping lets you interact with nature in a more holistic fashion. Because you are both the leader and the lead you decide the agenda, pace and difficulty of your trips. With no people to consult you need to draw more deeply on your own experience, growing skills in the process.

Solo Jon section hiking the Te Araroa Trail SOBO, Queen Charlotte Track, 2016


Now, I enjoy this and would never claim that this is the best or only way to visit the outdoors. Personally, I enjoy the feeling of self reliance when solo, you make ALL the decisions which makes tramping a more intense experience IMHO. You do require experience, common sense, good equipment and a realistic appreciation of your limits to maintain safety though.

Wilderness articles are generally available on their website or hunt down a paper copy. 

 Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Tramping literature: Wilderness magazine

One of my favourite go to sources of information is Wilderness magazine. I highly recommend this as essential reading for all New Zealand outdoor enthusiasts.


This should be the bible for any tramper, mountain biker, climber and kayaker. Large format with a wealth of trip plans, gear reviews and articles about current concerns in the outdoor community. Generally available from all public libraries, or subscribe so you never miss an issue.