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I’ve long been a fan of Lonely Planet publications, especially since they have included New Zealand in their reviews of great places to see and visit. This book is no exception. Epic Drives of the World contains three drives in New Zealand, in both the North and South Islands, and the very first two page illustration is of a VW campervan parked overlooking a portion of the East Coast somewhere in our beautiful country.
Fifty drives are described in detail with photographs of the terrain traversed, covering all parts of the globe from Africa and the Middle East, through the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The drives are graded from Easy through to Epic. And an added bonus is a feature which gives information about similar drives to the initial one being described. For instance, even though only three major drives are featured here in New Zealand, the index in the back of the book has the information that there are eleven routes covered somewhere in the book describing drives in Central Otago, the Kaikoura coast, Southern scenic route, thermal hot spots and Waiheke Island to name a few.
An indication of the extensive research which has gone into the book is the description for the Pacific Coast Highway. To quote: ‘New Zealand’s indigenous Māori culture, coastal scenery and Art Deco design combine in this off-the-beaten track journey around the country’s Pacific Ocean coastline. Start at Whakatane, one of New Zealand’s sunniest cities, and the departure point for boat trips to Whakaari (White Island), a sulfurous active volcano off the coast. Nearby Ohope is close to the protected wildlife refuge of Moutuhora (Whale Island). The remote region beyond Opotiki around NZ’s easternmost point is steeped in the traditional ways of the Ngāti Porou iwi (tribe), with local Marae (Māori meeting houses) displaying beautiful wooden carvings.’
Alongside this description (reproduced in part) is a full page colour photograph of Napier with some of the Art Deco buildings and its white sand beach. This drive was in the ‘More Like This’ section which follows many of the harder, epic drives throughout the book.
The book is a visual feast, being A4 size with a hard cover, and containing many photos and colour illustrations. Little maps are at the beginning of each main drive showing where they are in the country represented, and each drive has the starting location, the end point, the distance covered, how to get there and, in some cases, what to take, when to go, where to eat, and websites to connect to for further info. It’s packed full of information about the countries visited, the wildlife to watch out for and some history or relevant information about the country.
Epic Drives of the World is a real cracker of a book which would delight all sorts of readers, from the die hard adventurer through to the stay at home imagineers.
Reviewed by Lesley Vlietstra
Epic Drives of the World
by Lonely Planet
Published by Lonely Planet Global