A value-adding, practical guide to heading off the beaten track

PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
If you do not have a 4WD vehicle, this book may persuade you to get one.

STORIES FROM OUR BACK ROADS: SOUTH ISLAND
Ray Stone
Bateman Books

Ray Stone has explored the less-travelled roads and tracks of the South Island and revealed a world no State Highway can match.

With detailed instructions about handling tricky terrain and an extensive use of the histories written about the remote areas he visits, his Stories From Our Back Roads reveals the treasures to be found in the back country. For Maniototo alone he has explored Danseys Pass, Mount Buster and the Old Dunstan Road, all places you should visit before you can say you have seen the country. Being there is best, and while the book describes well the atmosphere at Mount Buster, only a visit to that remote and mysterious goldfield, marked by tragedy, will provide the full experience.

The rest of the South Island gets the same treatment and, although the scenery is reason enough to make the trips, the stories of the people who first used these roads will make your journey doubly valuable.

There is sound advice about how to preserve the environment and avoid becoming one of that breed of 4WD idiots who are hell-bent on destroying the landscape with their reckless hooning.

Taking the time to peer at and ponder the dozens of historical sites (including ruins, tracks, mines, isolated buildings and headstones) will make your journey twice as long but immeasurably more pleasurable.

Read the book before you leave home and, using Ray Stone’s maps and practical hints, plan your journey to include the detours and walking tracks he describes — and, above all, take his advice about how to avoid featuring in yet another ‘‘4WD trippers stranded’’ headline.

 - Jim Sullivan is a Patearoa writer.

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