Foreword Review — Jan / Feb 2000
New Zealand Maori legend says the earth was formed
when Rangi, the sky, united with Papa, the earth. Then the demigod, Maui,
fished up a cluster of islands from the sea and named them Aotearoa
(Ao-TayA-RoA)-Land of the Long White Cloud. Nowadays the locals refer to their
homeland as GodZone and with good reason.
About the size of Colorado, New Zealand is a compact country with a complex
topography. In New Zealand McKinney is on a mission to uncover the natural
dimension of this remarkable land down-under. In addition to providing in-depth
background for the traveler seeking to keep well off the beaten track,
McKinney’s emphasizes responsible, low impact travel. Special attention is paid
to restaurants, accommodations and outfitters that are particularly
eco-friendly-those that strive to operate in ways that protect the natural
environment or support local ecotourism efforts.
Eco-travel is about expanding horizons-about reaching beyond one’s own comfort
and self-interest. Says McKinney, “Unlike a guidebook researched in a high-rise
office, the information (here) comes from a stack of notebooks, the pages
ruffled by winds, the scribbled ink notations blurred by rain.” So along with
the traditional information on climate, holidays and currency, New Zealand
provides background on less familiar fare: how to properly conduct oneself in a
seal colony; adequate caging when swimming with Mako sharks; appreciating a
full day’s tramp (hike) in pouring rain through examination of the hydrological
cycle; etiquette on the disposition of biowaste while on the trail; what tour
operators to use, despite costs, because they’re good and are eco-friendly.
”I try to provide you with background,” says McKinney “so you can appreciate
what you see, offer practical help in planning your trip, and encourage you to
tread lightly…wherever you go.” New Zealand probes some of the best nature
experiences available, and shows the traveler how to get in amongst the real
New Zealand, to find the out-of-the-way places that most tourists miss. The
author’s Top Dozen Picks chapter of what to see would make a native Kiwi
adventurer proud. In addition, the local Kiwi “slanguage” lessons are helpful.