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Book reviews: December 2020

3 min read

Pick of the month

Hooked for Life: A Celebration of Fly Fishing
Les Hill
Quentin Wilson Publishing
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

With seven books on the subject, there seems to be no doubt that Les Hills is an expert in fly fishing. His most recent one is based on 63 years’ of fly fishing in New Zealand and it is packed with interesting and informative stories, demonstrating the sheer joy of catching trout.

Readers will benefit not only from the author’s years of experience with nymph and dry fly but will also learn to think like a trout and understand the nature of the world it lives in and come to appreciate the author’s view that it is often more satisfying to catch one special fish than a large number on a particular day. Also included are handy tips on streamside photography.

The book also includes two chapters on fishing and wellness that explains the positive impact fly fishing can have on mental health.

With beautiful photos spread across the pages, this book is a perfect gift for any angler or even a budding enthusiast who still has to dip their toes in the water.

More good reads

A New Zealand Outdoor Life – Exploring Fiordland, Hunting and Other Adventures
Alby Frampton
Reviewed by Tony Orman

Alby Frampton of Wellington is well known in hunting circles as a past president of the NZ Deerstalkers Association. He began hunting in the Tararuas but in 1980, at the age of 41, he made his first foray into Fiordland, just exploring. 

An appetite for exploration was born from reading books on some of the great explorers of yesteryear such as Shipton, Scott, and Shackleton. Not surprisingly, Ed Hillary was his idol. 

Fiordland quickly endeared itself to him. Tempestuous, raw, and rugged and more often rain-swept, Fiordland offered the budding explorer a real challenge. Alby quickly became addicted to exploring as much of Fiordland as possible, and over the next 38 years, returned again and again achieving major traverses.

The first few chapters recount the author’s early hunting adventures that were often in the Tararua Ranges north of Wellington before giving detailed and, at times, vivid and gripping diary accounts of battling Fiordland’s ridges and valleys and often dripping bush, not forgetting it’s fierce weather. Liberally illustrated with excellent colour photos and excellent maps, the book is absorbing reading.

Note: A hardcover is limited to 60 copies at $80; the card cover is $40. Buyer to pay an additional​​ $10 for pack n post. All enquiries to be sent to and Alby will send a bank account number. When the money is deposited, the book/s are posted.

Off the Beaten Track
Dave Shaw
Bateman Books
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

The TV series The Red Stag Timber Hunters Club – currently in its sixth season –is wildly popular, showcasing the exploits of a close-knit team of intrepid and passionate hunters who regularly put themselves to the test throughout New Zealand’s wilderness in pursuit of big game. The book brings all of that to print. So, if binge-watching seasons on weekends isn’t your thing, the print version will take you through the club’s highs and lows as they recount some of their most memorable back-country adventures, trials and tribulations, near misses, and previously unseen material not fit for broadcast.

Told with equal measures of humour and heart and punctuated with stunning location photography, the book should definitely be on any keen hunter’s must-read list.

24 Hours in the Kiwi Bush
24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashore
Gillian & Darryl Torckler
Bateman Books
$19.99 each
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

In these new books from the Torcklers, the couple share their passion for what they’ve seen in the bush and on the seashore and describe what scientists have learned about those habitats.

The books explore the continuous activity on the New Zealand coast and in the bush over a 24-hour cycle and follows the changes in light and tides and the movement of different creatures and the many inhabitants of the bush, from the nocturnal kiwi to the kākāpō.

Punctuated with beautiful photos, the books guide readers on an immersive journey into the intimate world of New Zealand’s native bush and seashore life.

The books are informative and well put together and are an ideal gift for someone who loves the outdoors.

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