There is something about the long summer and devouring New Zealand literature. Days travelling or hanging locally, visiting local beaches, mountains and rivers. All this inspires reading and writing about local tales and atmosphere as we holiday in our beautiful country.

Perhaps it is the magic of the South Island that we can be on an east coast beach where we watch wrybills, oystercatchers, terns, cormorants and gulls, and then we can visit local rivers and mountains within the half hour. Within a few hours we can be up in the mountains and beech forests, trying to keep kea from taking our lunches. An hour or so beyond that we are in rainforests and the wild beaches of the west as tui and bellbirds fly around and wekas steal our leftovers.

Last year we travelled to the North Island, along the east coast of the South Island past Kaikoura, over Cook Strait, through Wellington (where we bought second hand books from a Cuba St bookshop) and the Kapiti Coast and to Palmerston North. One day we pilgrimaged up the Whanganui River to Jerusalem where we climbed overgrown hills and hunted out James K. Baxter’s grave.

The Denniston Incline

This year our travels took us over the alps to the South Island’s West Coast. With five children in tow we searched family history and reminisced over our childhood experiences. 900 or so kilometres, from Castle Hill and Arthur’s Pass, through Kumara and Greymouth, up to the Punakaiki Beach Camp where we stayed, then further north to Westport, Denniston and Granity. There is nothing like being up amongst the West Coast rainforest, surrounded by native birds, in front of the rolling and crashing surf and the colourful stones and stormy skies to inspire your own poetry.

Along the way we discussed Jenny Pattrick’s Denniston Rose and other such literature that have made the Coast famous. Tales like Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries playing on the areas rich history that play on your imagination among the now ghost towns and the land that seems like no one has ever touched.

In rainy days, confined to a small cabin, we read the poetry of Karlo Mila. Now at home we are have a pile of Albert Wendt, Owen Marshall’s Collected Short Stories, Courtney Sina Meredith and many more that we are working through.

Nothing like an Aotearoa holiday with Aotearoa reads. (In sticking with my resolution to review the books I read this year, there will be reviews to come..)