Author(s): Neville Peat
The New Zealand high country holds a special place for us all: it's New Zealand's equivalent of the 'Wild West': a rugged, rustic, spectacularly beautiful frontier. The relationship we have with the hills, mountains and lakes resonants within us all when we hear the words HIGH COUNTRY. Its steep mountains, tumbling rivers, moss-bedecked beech forest, and snow and ice in high places speak of 'a mountain fastness and wilderness dramatically arrayed' - we call it 'Middle Earth'. The characters who roamed the hills, old prospectors like Arawata Bill, are like our own Jessie James or Kit Carson. It ought to be a haven for wildlife: for the mischievous kea and for the haunting song of the kakapo. Author Neville Peat takes us into the Head of the Lake area - that's head of Lake Wakatipu. Into Paradise - yes it's a real place - up the Rees Valley, into the Dart, the Greenstone and Caples valleys. We roam the hills and meet up with the Lark, an itinerant free spirit. He knows a thing or two, the Lark. We meet possum hunters, old identities, high country farmers, tour guides, shearers, botanists and conservationists, high country horses... we even go the races at Glenorchy. We also visit the past where Neville blends the history of the area and the characters of the past with the concerns of the future. Land tenure review is high on the minds of the high country farmers. The demise of native birds is everyone's concern. First published October 2008.
Neville Peat is an award-winning author and photographer of over 30 books, covering themes of geography, biography, natural history and the environment. His biographies include the bestselling Hurricane Tim: The Story of Sir Tim Wallis. In the late 1970s he spent two summers at Scott Base, New Zealand's Antarctica station on Ross Island, as a journalist and photographer, and has written five books on Antarctic themes. In 2007 he was awarded New Zealand's most valuable literary prize, the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers' Fellowship for a book about the Tasman Sea (The Tasman: Biography of an ocean). Wild Dunedin: Enjoying the natural history of New Zealand's wildlife capital (with Brian Patrick) won the 1996 Natural Heritage category of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and their Wild Fiordland was shortlisted in 1997. In 1994 he was named Dunedin Citizen of the Year, in acknowledgement of his books on the region and his work in establishing the Dunedin Environmental Business Network. He has served as a councillor and as deputy chair on the Otago Regional Council, and has chaired it Environment and Science Committee.Neville's other books include: Snow Dogs: The huskies of Antarctica; Detours; The Incredible Kiwi; Land Aspiring: The story of Mount Aspiring National Park; Coasting: The sea lion and the lark; Subantarctic New Zealand: A rare heritage; Antarctic Partners: 50 years of New Zealand and United States Cooperation in Antarctica, 1957-2007; High Country Lark; and Seabird Genius: The Story of L. E. Richdale, the royal albatross and the yellow-eyed penguin. Shackelton's Whiskey was published in 2012. He has undertaken commissioned work for Otago Museum, and his comprehensive report on the sub-Antarctic islands earned World Heritage Area status for five groups of the islands. Neville is a fifth-generation descendant of Scottish pioneers in Otago. He lives at Broad Bay, Otago Peninsula; the family home fittingly near populations of royal albatross, yellow-eyed penguin, New Zealand (Hooker's) sea lion and New Zealand fur seal, about which Neville has written many times. See www.nevillepeatsnewzealand.com.