‘Spell-binding’ book takes out top spot

Colin Monteath’s Erebus The Ice Dragon: A Portrait of an Antarctic Volcano is this year’s "spell-binding" winner of the Nankervis/Bamford NZ Mountain Book of the Year.

The $2000 grand prize is awarded in the NZ Mountain Book Competition as part of the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival in Wānaka.

The overall prize is awarded for a book "that brings the mountain experience into the hearts and minds of the reader and leaves people with a knowledge of, and respect for, the place the mountains play in the human and physical worlds".

The competition had two categories: mountain and adventure narrative for stories and accounts about specific adventures; and mountain and adventure heritage for guidebooks, coffee table, picture books, history books, analyses, reflections on culture, environments or ethics and advocacy.

The judges said Monteath’s stories of Erebus "are as spell-binding as the ice dragon’s environment".

It wove history, science, art and adventure into a compelling tale, supported by images taken over his lifetime of working and voyaging in the region.

"With 32 seasons in Antarctica under his belt and having made the first descent into the inner crater of Erebus, accomplished photographer and writer Colin Monteath knows well the beauty, tragedy and magnetism of this icy, active volcano."

Monteath will speak at the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival in Wānaka on June 24.

The Heritage Award went to Desmond Bovey, for his book Tongariro National Park: An Artist’s Field Guide.

The judges said Bovey’s book was "magical, detailed and pretty", and it had "immense value as a guide and companion for mountain walkers and nature artists".

Bovey said it was an an honour to receive the award.

"The book has been a journey of discovery and it is my hope that it will be also for its readers, and that it will contribute to their own love of the park’s powerful landscapes."

He was inspired to create the book having returned to New Zealand after 30 years in France and looking to reconnect with the landscapes of his youth.

Victoria Bruce secured the Narrative Award for her book Adventures with Emilie: Taking on Te Araroa Trail in 138 Life-changing Days.

She took on the trail with her 7-year-old daughter and her book is an honest and personal story of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and how her outdoor challenges helped her face her past and forge a courageous new direction in life.

She will also be a guest speaker during the festival in Wānaka.

Head judge Laura Williamson said reading through this year’s entries was a pleasure.

"Narrowing down a list of finalists was hard yakka.

"Every book stood out in its own way."

The festival will run in Wānaka from June 21-25 and in Queenstown June 27-28.