Tramping Book Review | The Shell Guide to The Routeburn Track (NZ) Philip Temple, 1976

Philip Temple

In the seventies, Philip Temple wrote a series of Shell guides for many of the great New Zealand walking tracks including the Routeburn, Milford, Heaphy, Tongariro, Waikaremoana, Copland and Hollyford.  The Routeburn Track Guide, published by Whitcoulls in 1976, has 40 pages, including a two-page centre map, and a personal notes page. While it is no longer in print, it has become highly sought after as one of the first guides to the track. Philip Temple has written 36 books going back to the early 1960s, with many related to New Zealand and his mountaineering experiences. He was a keen walker, personally walking the routes and taking part in expeditions to New Guinea and the sub-Antarctic. His diverse skills have included landscape photography and he continues to write novels.

 I love reading walking guides and my bookshelf is full of such guides. It was therefore with a great degree of anticipation that I waited for my copy, bought online from the Tall Ships Gallery in Palmerston North.

This book is well illustrated by historical photos of Routeburn Flats, The Earland Falls, Emily Peak reflected in Lake Mackenzie, Lake steamer Antrim at Kinloch, Sir Thomas Mackenzie, the original hut at the start of the track, Harry Bryants open air buses, a two page map of the Routeburn track, Routeburn Gorge, Routeburn Falls, Lake Harris in spring, Looking down the Hollyford Valley, Lake Howden and the Greenstone Valley, Mounts Christina, Crosscut and Lyttle, Harris Saddle and shelter.

Preface

This guide is one of a series and in the author’s words ” ……designed to assist those who would quit wheels for walking, shoes for boots, and make the effort to explore the country first hand.”

History of the Track

The track has enormous historical significance for the Maoris as it represents an early route from Lake Wakatipu to mine greenstone in the mineral rich ranges to the north-west for trade in South Westland and Central Otago, which continued to the mid-nineteenth century. Wakatipu was first seen by Europeans about the same time. Not long after goldminers, searching for an more direct way to get their gold to Australia other than via Dunedin began exploring the Routeburn with the aim of establishing a port at Martins Bay.

Over the last hundred and forty years, the Routeburn has steadily gained popularity with tourists and trampers. Early in the 1900’s the track was extended from the Harris Saddle to Lake Howden.Then in the nineteen thirties, a motor service from Kinloch into the Routeburn commenced. Just before WWII the final section of the Routeburn track was completed and in the nineteen seventies the road over the Dart river meant that the Routeburn became accessible by motor car, replacing the lake steamer Earnslaw.

General Information

This section gives information about access, accommodation, weather, clothing and equipment, fitness and preparation.

In  future posts, I will comment on Philip Temple’s sound advice and his route guide.

Related reading

Related Routeburn Track Planning posts

Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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