by Trevor Cree
Published by Ltd, £10

With a first trip to New Zealand pending I couldn’t resist this adventure story set on the fictional Mamoe Track.
Following the invasion of Afghanistan, British United Nations aid contractor Alexander Montgomery Stewart finds

himself with time to kill and so heads to New Zealand to recreate a hike he did 20 years previously. There, he meets and soon falls for the seemingly carefree German girl Sonja, who’s young enough to be his daughter.
Together they agree to hike the Mamoe Track and to include a little-known optional spur, the Scorpion’s Tail, where events reach a climax.
Other characters are encountered along the way, including local lad and rescue team member Craig Williams, with whom Sonja falls in love and finds her feelings reciprocated. Then there’s Kathy, the once-bullied schoolgirl who hikes the Ailsa Track with Alexander and returns to her family full of new-found confidence; Hoop, the US tourist who finds hiking trails about as comfortable as tight-rope walking above piranha pools; and, most curiously of all, there’s Te Puke. Nothing to do with too many green lipped mussels the night before, Te Puke is an ancient Maori war staff given to Alexander by a native friend.
Is this all beginning to sound like a soap opera? Actually, it’s a wonderful trail tale that just manages to avoid all the potential cliches it could have fallen into to be a carefully observed adventure story with believable characters, some great trail imagery and even a sense of Maori culture and history. The style veers towards the formal but is highly readable.
Not really full of information for an aspirant visitor to New Zealand (other than the horrendous prices in bars) but wonderfully entertaining – an ideal read for the flight out!
John Manning

Back to book reviews list

Book Reviews