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New guide flags environmental changes in New Zealand’s highest mountains

New guide flags environmental changes in New Zealand’s highest mountains
November 23, 2018

Changing environments and recreation habits have motivated the New Zealand Alpine Club to rewrite and fully update their guidebook to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, and to extend the scope of the guide to cover Westland Tai Poutini National Park for the first time.

Highlighting changes in the country’s highest mountains, the newly titled Aoraki-Tai Poutini guidebook is more comprehensive than ever, containing essential information for mountaineers, climbers, trampers, and hunters of all abilities.

Guidebook author, Rob Frost explains “since the last edition of the guidebook was published in 2001, most of the glaciers in the region have undergone significant retreat.

“This has affected several access routes into the mountains, and approaches that were easy 20 years ago are now more difficult, dangerous, or even impossible. With this book, people now have access to up-to-date information to help them plan the safest possible trip.”

While many climbers now use helicopters to gain access to the upper glaciers to get to their chosen climb, Frost hopes the expanded coverage of the new book will make people look elsewhere for their adventures, advising “the Aoraki-Tai Poutini region comprises some of the most diverse mountainous terrain in the world, including lush rainforests, high snowfields, craggy ranges, and dry tussock lands.

“One of my aims when writing the guide was to inspire people to look beyond the popular locations and into the nooks and crannies that make the region so special.”

New Zealand Alpine Club General Manager, Karen Leacock, the New Zealand Alpine Club’s General Manager adds “this guidebook is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the author and his supporters.

“Our authors work as volunteers, pulling other volunteers in to help them. However, this publication is one of the most stunning and professional I have seen in this genre.”

The guidebook is beautifully illustrated with hundreds of full-colour photos from talented landscape photographers. The stunning imagery coupled with the expanded section on the region’s history means the book will also be of interest to those wishing to learn about New Zealand’s highest mountains from the safety and comfort of their home. The book contains a dedicated section on the implications of glacial recession on mountaineering by renowned glaciologist Heather Purdie, as well as information on the region’s geology, weather, flora, and fauna.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark reflects in the Foreword that she hopes the guidebook “stimulates the next generation of adventurous Kiwis to discover a passion for the mountains and to become advocates for New Zealand’s mountain spaces, communities and values.”

Discussions around the changing nature of recreation and access in the park are timely, with the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and Westland National Park Management Plan drafts currently out for public consultation.

The book is available at all good booksellers or the NZAC website at

Image: The peak of Aoraki/Mount Cook.

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