Book Review: Hiking & Tramping in New Zealand, by Lonely Planet

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_tramping_and_hiking_in_nzLonely Planet’s Hiking & Tramping in New Zealand may look like a travel guide, but it won’t just be tourists buying this book. With colour maps and photos, the book will also make the locals want to lace up their tramping boots and head out into the wilderness.

The book features some of New Zealand’s great walks familiar to most, such as the Heaphy and Kepler tracks, but there are also many lesser-known but equally interesting ones. A quick guide at the front, ‘If you like…’ goes on to list tramps for those with a yearning for volcanoes, mountain passes, rivers, beaches, wildlife, etc, and there are also basic itineraries for those with plenty of time on their hands to explore more than a couple of the tramps.

As an enthusiastic walker, the part that caught my eye was the section on choosing your tramp, because it lists them by duration, difficulty, and the best time to go. I may not be up to a five-day hike just yet, but there are some that only take a few hours that I am keen to try, especially the ones they class as easy-moderate!

The separate chapters on each region list the different tramps and all the information you need to know before tackling them. Distance is given in kilometres and miles, so it won’t send non-metric tourists astray. Whether you’re an experienced tramper or a novice, the book outlines what you need to know, including when to tramp and what to bring, where you can get maps, transport, and what accommodation options are available.

The highlights for each tramp are listed too, such as side tracks that lead to points of interest, or what views you can expect at different points along the way. For some there are also supermarkets and eateries listed near the start or at nightly stopping points on tramps of more than a day.

There is a pull-out touring map, a packing guide and a bird spotter’s guide, and a chapter at the back devoted to bring those from overseas up to speed on our country.

As can be expected with a Lonely Planet guide, the book is comprehensive and would be a useful addition for anyone wanting to get out of the towns and cities when they travel. Even if you’re not into tramping, it makes a great read for all the historical information it contains about New Zealand and our landscape.

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

Hiking & Tramping in New Zealand
Published by Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781786572691

Book Review: Around the World in 80 Food Trucks, by Lonely Planet

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_around_the_world_in_80_food_trucksHands up if you remember pie carts? Oh, how times have changed! Food trucks are in vogue now and this book not only shares 80 different recipes from around the world but also tells us about the hard-working people behind the scenes, as well as the history of their business and their ‘truck’. Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, North and South America are all represented. The common formula is simple – fresh food, locally sourced and prepared by hand – although the vehicles and their owners are a truly diverse bunch.

Who can run a food truck? According to the New York city-based Caitlyn Napolitano, ‘Anyone with passion, gumption and a love of cooking’.

The rise of the gourmet food truck has apparently occurred in the last 10 years or so, coinciding with the growth of festivals and pop-up ventures. As most of the vehicles are mobile their owners are able to move from location to location according to the season or demand. A handful have expanded and now operate permanent restaurants as well.

The vehicles include an old fishing boat now on wheels, a truck covered in Astroturf, and a re-purposed dentist wagon (whatever that may be). One vendor operates from a vintage bicycle and ‘Little Bonnie Dot’ is an enchanting 1930s teardrop caravan. She rolls around the Australian countryside enticing people to her mobile tea parties.

Photos show the people running the trucks exuding happiness and enthusiasm. If there’s a downside to operating a food truck, it’s mentioned only in passing or not at all. Many of them say that the food they offer was inspired by visiting or living in other countries. Some saw a gap in the market they knew they could fill. While some operators have a lot of items on their menu, others have chosen to do one thing and do it well. The recipes have been invented, transformed, and sometimes passed down through generations. Many chefs are self-taught, although a few have undertaken formal study at places such as the Culinary Institute of New York and Ireland’s Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Although many of the featured recipes appear to be quick and easy to prepare, some require more forward planning, such as ingredients that need to simmer for a while and the pickle that must rest for at least 24 hours before use. Most recipes are for main dishes, although desserts are covered too – including pineapple-ginger ice pops, lemon waffles, and a superb caramel flan. There are lots of delicious-looking sauces, onion jams and marinades too. The index is organised by location as well as by the type of dish.

Two of the food trucks are based here in Aotearoa. Although the recipes include ingredients from around the world, most would be easy to find in your local supermarket; if not, there are suggested equivalents. (No mollete available? Use a soft bread roll instead.) The recipes are well-written and easy to follow. There’s a note about how many people each recipe will serve: typically 2 to 4, although the octopus serves 16 – and Banjo’s Blue Cheese slaw supposedly ‘feeds a crowd’.

There are Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter links for most trucks if you’d like to learn more about them. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

Belgian waffles in New York City

Earlsfield Sourdough Pizza

Hong Kong’s ‘Princess Kitchen’

Australian Greek Street Food

I’m always attracted to recipes with interesting names, so the Chakalaka Relish (hot and spicy, packed with vegetables, baked beans, and chopped chilies) is first on my list of things to try. I’m also intrigued by Curry Up’s Chana Masala recipe which includes chickpeas steeped in tea.

Sometimes you have to take a leap to be happy.’

  • Wes, an ex-advertising executive whose food truck offers more than 30 different types of waffles

The featured food truckers include former engineers, dental technicians, bankers and fashion designers – so if you’ve fantasised about throwing in your routine 9-to-5 job this book might inspire you to launch a new career. It will also appeal to those interested in recreating dishes from a favourite food truck, and anyone planning a trip abroad who would enjoy fresh food prepared in a novel setting. If you have limited space you’ll appreciate the book’s compact size – and as it covers a whole range of topics (including recipes, travel, people’s stories, and the history of the food truck scene) it would be equally at home on a bookshelf in a living room or a kitchen.

Reviewed by Anne Kerslake-Hendricks

Around the World in 80 Food Trucks
by Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781788681315

 

Book Review: The Travel Book, by Lonely Planet

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_travel_book19Do you remember as a child of the 80s reading the Guinness World Book of Records with wide-eyes? Lonely Planet’s The Travel Book offers the same captivating experience. It’s a catalogue of every country in the world, laid out for you like a travel brochure, inviting you to sit back, relax and dream about where you could go.

The Travel Book coffee table tome offers a glimpse into each country – when to go, highlights to see, what local cuisine to savour, and a little bit of travel writer insight into the heart of each country’s culture. It’s an interesting read, and aims not to be an encyclopaedic reference, more a snapshot of the range and diversity on our planet.

Each page is a feast for the eyes with beautiful full colour images of the wonders of our world, natural, historic and cultural. Families will love this book, with kids having fun sharing the facts they learn; country size and population, official languages and capital city listed at the top of each page.

The Travel Book gives equal weight to every country, picking out what makes every place on the planet unique and worth wondering about. From Kiribati and Grenada to Canada and Ireland, every country gets its 15 minutes of fame in The Travel Book.

Imagine Agadez in Niger, one of the Sahara’s most romantic caravan towns, with an iconic pyramid-shaped mud mosque. Try a Bokit in Guadaloupe – a deep-fried pocket stuffed with saltfish, salad and creole sauce. Would you like to visit the 24,000 islands in the Swedish Stockholm Archipelago? I once spent a month in Sweden doing just that – although I only managed about ten of them, it was enough to plant a deep-seated love of the country.

Each country page also includes a ‘random fact’ – such as in Japan, it’s common to give gifts of fruit as a luxury product; one of the most expensive is the black-rind Densuke watermelon which can cost thousands of dollars.

The Travel Book is a great opportunity to take a moment out of your everyday to dream of faraway places and exotic cultures, challenging everything you know and are familiar with in your own life. Sit down with a bunch of post it notes and mark out all the places you want to see and experience, it might spark a booking to go there for real!

by Amie Lightbourne

The Travel Book
Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781787017634

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Amazing Train Journeys, by Lonely Planet

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_amazing_train_journeysThe front cover of this beautiful book from Lonely Planet has the title Amazing Train Journeys superimposed on a blue sky above a train snaking its way alongside a river  with dense forest stretching away towards stark grey mountains. In one corner it has the words “60 unforgettable rail trips and how to experience them”. Inside, before you reach any of this exciting information, there is a two page colour photograph of New Zealand’s TranzAlpine train traversing a bridge over one of our famed braided rivers. If you, the reader, have been lucky enough to have been on the TranzAlpine rail journey, it may be hard to tear yourself away from this fantastic reminder of your experience.  But once you do, you’ll find much more to take your interest and capture your imagination.

The foreword on page 6 notes: ‘There’s something magical about a journey by train. Sometimes the magic is inside – on a train you have room to move and meet people, dine in a restaurant car with white tablecloths, sleep in a private compartment between crisp, clean sheets with the sound of steel wheel swishing on steel rail beneath you.  Sometimes the magic is outside, in the landscape the train traverses – an adventure, an experience, an insight into the heart of a nation.’

So onwards in our journey into the photographs, the information of places, animals, people and, most of all, trains and where they take us. Africa and the Middle East is the first stop. Johannesburg to Capetown across the Great Karoo. Then the journey from Andimeshk to Dorud takes the passenger through the mountainous heart of ancient Persia. Further on, the Bernina Express is described as one of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys. A masterpiece of early 20th century engineering, it takes in 55 tunnels and 196 bridges as it travels from Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy.

There are rail journeys from the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania, which includes the aforementioned TranzAlpine as well as the Northern Explorer from Auckland to Wellington. As is usual with this publisher, the details of each journey are replete with information regarding the time involved, the scenery, notes of interest about the history of the train track and country it passes through, and the people one might meet as companions on the journey.  The photographs are superb, many of them covering two pages and all in full colour.  I can guarantee that many readers will be thinking of saving their pennies and reaching for their passports after reading this book.

Reviewed by Lesley Vlietstra

Amazing Train Journeys
by Lonely Planet
Published by Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781787014305

Book Review: The Vanlife Companion, by Lonely Planet

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_vanlife_companion.jpgI love the Lonely Planet books for many reasons.  They are bound beautifully, they have lovely pictures and they are dense with all the facts you need to know about the subject concerned. The Vanlife Companion ticks all three boxes.

The three headings in the contents page set the reader up for the journey ahead.  Under the first, ‘Welcome to Vanlife,’ there is information for those adventurers who are contemplating buying and setting up a vehicle. Then ten vanlifers are interviewed. Each has a different vehicle and all aspects of their lives are covered as they travel the highways and byways. At the end of each section the travellers are asked the same five questions regarding the conversion, the things they experienced during their travels, both good and unexpected, their further plans for the van and their three top tips for vanlife. Accompanying photographs add further depth to their stories.

And then there are the journeys themselves, the icing on the cake. Twelve countries and twenty routes are covered in the usual exacting detail which is a hallmark of  Lonely Planet books. Two routes are in New Zealand, one in each island. Using the Southern Alps circuit as an example of how each route is described, there is a detailed map of the route, its starting point and each of the following fifteen points of interest marked. A description is given of what is to be found at each point, how long it might take to travel between each one as well as a short account of the history of the region around it. And, of course, the ubiquitous, glorious photos.

Other routes are in Australia, Nepal, West Africa, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Germany, Chile, Argentina and the USA. An index at the back of the book makes it easy to look up any particular route or place.

Did I mention that I love such books from Lonely Planet? They make great gifts too, if you can bear to part with them.

Reviewed by Lesley Vlietstra

The Vanlife Companion
by Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781787018488

Wine Trails: Australia and New Zealand, by Lonely Planet

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_wine_trails_australia_and_nzIn 2015, Lonely Planet published Wine Trails, which covered 20 countries and 52 regions. This was a massive undertaking and I am sure we would all have liked to volunteer to trial a few for the editors. One of the criticisms which arose was that there were many areas not covered, or wineries completely missed. In fact, I remember at the time discussing how good it would be to have a Lonely Planet Wine Trail for each country.

Well, wish no more. In Wine Trails: Australia and New Zealand we have exactly that.

As a backpacker of the 80’s, I find it amusing to see the company which produced my well-thumbed guidebooks has grown up. I used to seek out the budget hotels and the cheap meals from those pages. Now, the backpackers are all grown up and wish to indulge their sophisticated passions. What a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

Wine Trails covers 40 weekend possibilities. As a New Zealander, I immediately turned to see how we featured. Obviously, Australia dominates and has 30 of the weekends. So instead I began by checking how my local areas fared. I was pleasantly surprised.

The trails are in alphabetical order, so be warned you skip from Auckland to Central Otago. Each includes a map locating the wineries, a short background to the winery, their best products and the features of this region. Of immense help are the links which follow each listing allowing the reader to check details and products.

My local Waipara trail included 6 wineries and identified the features of each wine. Certainly, the Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir deserved its’ special mention. As well as the featured wineries, local eateries and accommodation are included. Travel distances and other local highlights complete the possibilities for the weekend. This trail mentions the gourmet sausage rolls from Pukeko Junction, the Hanmer pools and the Weka Pass railway. I was happy with the information and presentation.

The introduction to the book mentions the importance of being able to taste a wine in the place it was produced. The writers certainly covered a lot of ground and their combined expertise as well as local knowledge, has ensured this book is helpful, beautiful and extremely tempting. My wine tasting team have stolen my copy and plans are afoot for a weekend away. I am hoping it is to the Tamar Valley in Tasmania because their Pinot Noir grapes make amazing wine. Fingers crossed.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

Wine Trails: Australia and New Zealand – Plan 40 perfect Weekends in Wine Country
Published by Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781787017696

Book Review: Lonely Planet Wellness Escapes

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_wellness_escapesWellness escapes have been around for quite a number of years but most of us only dream of escaping everyday life to kick back and relax for a while. These escapes come in many forms. Many more than most of us could even imagine. They’re in many countries with some having a big price tag and others more affordable.

To help you along the way to choose an escape to fit your time frame and budget this book by Lonely Planet is divided into different sections. Active – yoga – outdoor adventure – fitness classes. Calm – yoga – nature – meditation. Healthy – nutrition – nature – spa treatments. Indulged – spa treatments – food & drink – luxury. Inspired – creative classes – personal growth – culture. Some are just destinations where you can stay elsewhere and attend classes during the day as often as you want or go and enjoy a day spa, while others are live in and all inclusive. The latter rather appeals to me, but then that would depend where you go and how much you can afford. Some are quite reasonable while others sound as though you need to mortgage your life away. The destinations are as exotic or as remote as you like – close to home or in some wonderful island destination.

New Zealand has a number to choose from. Aro Ha in Glenorchy just out of Queenstown. At one end of the price scale, a 5-night wellness adventure with gluten-free and vegetarian cuisine will set you back $NZ5200, or you can go to Split Apple Retreat for a Taste of Wellness package from NZ$6700, while at Solscape in Raglan you can get a  double tipi (tent) for $NZ87 per night with organic plant-based meals (or bring your own food to prepare in the communal kitchen.) Split Apple Retreat offers meditation, spa treatments, hikes in the beautiful landscape finishing the day off with an evening meal with multiple courses leaning heavily towards locally sourced vegetables and fish. As a bonus at this retreat you are given a complimentary cookbook to take home as a memento of your visit.

If you fancy somewhere more exotic you could travel to Costa Rica to Blue Spirit. This is perched on a hilltop overlooking white-sand beaches and the Pacific Ocean. This retreat offers an all-inclusive retreat with prices starting at $AUS1500. Local, organic, gourmet, mostly vegetarian food with some fresh fish is offered. It offers simple rooms that take advantage of the ocean or nature views or you can choose to stay in an eco-cottage or glamping style tent pitched in the lush rainforest. Spa treatments, a salt water infinity pool and an inviting ocean via a lush walk through coconut palms. You can also add a “longevity” programme to your visit, taking advantage of the opportunity to thoroughly cleanse and detox during your stay.

I enjoyed fantasising about which retreat I would like to travel to and stay. But when I really thought about it, I know that I am quite happy to indulge myself every now and then in a few spa treatments at a local beauty salon near home. I have the choice of one across the road (a spa business run from home) or going through to Rotorua which is only a 45-minute hop from home to a day spa at the Polynesian Pools. Neither of these are featured in this book – mores the pity!

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Lonely Planet Wellness Escapes
Published by Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781787016972