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Book reviews: November 2019

3 min read

Pick of the month

New Zealand’s Native Trees

John Dawson and Rob Lucas

Potton & Burton


It was the best-selling and award-winning landmark book and it is easy to see why. This completed revised edition of New Zealand’s Native Trees is a treasure house of information on New Zealand’s unique natural history – our glorious native trees; a landmark book that is published only once in a generation.

New Zealand is a country of trees and one of the world’s most-renowned biodiversity hotspot; it is unique, with a majority of plants not found anywhere else in the world, and this book encapsulates that beauty. No doubt, it is a labour of love and a celebration of the country’s trees and forests.

The new edition has been brought up to date with a significant number of new species described or reclassified. It expertly describes and illustrates more than 350 species, subspecies, and varieties. There are now more than 100 new pages and 3200 photographs all beautifully compiled in one book.

The book covers pretty much everything you would want to know about our native flora. The publishers have done a fantastic job of putting it all together into one timeless collection that deserves a special spot on the bookshelf. And while the price of the book may be on the more expensive side, it is well worth it. It is brilliant as an identification guide, a reference, a resource for landscapers and gardeners, and an inspiration for a new generation of New Zealanders.

More good reads

Tohorā: The Southern Right Whale

Ned Barraud

Potton & Burton


The mighty tohorā, or southern right whale, was a common sight in winter off the coast of New Zealand but was soon driven to the edge of extinction in the 19th century, as it was an easy target for whalers. However, the turn of the century saw a change, and today, the tohorā became a protected species and once commercial whaling was stopped, it made a comeback.

Ned Barraud recounts this story in his latest beautifully illustrated book – one that the kids would definitely love.

Psychedelic Apes

Alex Boese



Ever stood around a barbeque on a starry night with maybe one too many ales in you and contemplated the Universe with some mates?

Well, here is the ticket to helping provide answers to those crazy discussions, like, are we living in a black hole, what if dinosaurs died in a nuclear war (say what?), what if humanity is getting dumber, what if Jesus were a mushroom, and many other questions that get bandied around when friends and frowned-upon substances collide.

The author explains all of this in easy-to-understand language while backing the theories up with evidence from clever academic papers.

But, getting back to dinosaurs dying in a nuclear war, this would mean that they would have had to harness nuclear fusion. Surely not?  

Guinness World Records 2020



From the weird and wonderful naturally-formed phenomenon on our planet to man-made achievements, the latest instalment of Guinness World Records is packed with 11 chapters that celebrate some of the most astonishing and inspiring achievements. 

A fun compilation that makes for a good coffee-table book with interesting bits of information, from the coolest (largest Lego-brick sundial) to feel-good ones (oldest professional club DJ; an 83-year-old woman in Japan in case you are wondering) and most bizarre (most toothpicks in a beard).

The 50 Best Birdwatching Sites in New Zealand

Liz Light

John Beaufoy Publishing


New Zealand is blessed with a diverse range of bird species and Liz Light’s book is a love story devoted to our feathered friends. It will not only intrigue armchair naturalists and travellers but also encourage eco-tourists and birdwatchers to visit New Zealand.

This richly illustrated book, with beautiful photographs from Liz Light, Oscar Thomas, and others, describes all of the bird families of New Zealand and details 50 key sites where birdwatchers have the best chance to see them in their natural habitat.

Add to your reading list: Win a copy!

We have a copy each of Tohorā: The Southern Right Whale and The 50 Best Birdwatching Sitesin New Zealand to give away this month.

Click here to enter

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