top of page
Over the last 50 years sea kayakers, climbers and alpine trampers have been attempting audacious journeys across New Zealand that last many months. Most of these adventurers have written books on their travels. In EPIC, these tales have been condensed and retold, ready for a new generation to be inspired by these very Kiwi adventures.
Featured adventurers range from Sir Graeme Dingle and Jill Tremain attempting the first traverse of the Southern Alps, to the author’s own tramp across the North Island backcountry, as told in the book’s final chapter.
This book is not intended to be an exhaustive history, but a selective anthology of endurance epics that span a variety of disciplines — from tramping and mountaineering to kayaking or cycling — and that trace a variety of interesting routes around the country.
In words, maps and photographs, each of the chapters highlights the resilience of the human spirit when attempting feats of endurance. Both men and women are featured, while their incredible adventures are spread out from Cape to Bluff, encompassing both the North, South and Stewart islands.

  • Photoshop CC

  • Lightroom CC

  • FREE portfolio website

  • Mobile apps

  • ...and much more

01 Author interviews Alastair McDowell


Alastair McDowell talks about his recent quest a quest to climb New Zealand’s 24 highest mountains above 3000 metres in a continuous 31-day push. In late 2021, he and a friend set off up the Copland Valley in stormy weather. This was a transalpine journey, from West Coast jungle to remote alpine summits, traversing some of the most dramatic landscapes in New Zealand. Within the month they climbed their final mountain, Tititea Mt Aspiring, succeeding in their record-breaking attempt, done under their own steam, on foot and on bike.

02 Author interviews Kevin Ackerley


During 1994-1995 the Ackerley brothers undertook an epic traverse from East Cape to West Cape.They were 'afraid of work' after graduating university. So they concocted an audacious trip from Mt Hikurangi to Mt Tutuko, including a cave descent down NZ's deepest vertical shaft. The lads then kayaked from Milford Sound down the Fiordland coastline to reach remote West Cape.

Their epic journey lasted 133 days, all under their own steam.

Sir Graeme Dingle wrote that it ‘was undoubtedly one of the greatest wilderness journeys ever done in New Zealand.'

03 Author interviews Rex Hendry


Rex Hendry remembers his epic traverse from North Cape to Doughboy Bay, Rakiura, during 1983-4. The 29-year old outdoor instructor set off alone along the main divide of the North and South Islands of New Zealand, experiencing atrocious weather in the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges, and serious fatigue by the time he reached Fiordland. His remarkable journey lasted 168 days, on foot and by kayak, culminating in a remote tramp over Rakiura Stewart Island to Doughboy Bay.


Ray Salisbury

Ray Salisbury began a lifelong passion for photography and tramping in the early 1970s. He was introduced to camping, hiking and kayaking by the Boys’ Brigade. In 1977 he walked the Heaphy Track in Northwest Nelson with his father. Later, he qualified with a degree in graphic design and photography at AUT in Auckland.
During the 1990s Ray began leading trips into the backcountry, accompanied by his friends. These private adventures culminated in a solo 80-day traverse of the North Island mountain ranges, starting at East Cape and ending at Cape Egmont. This epic formed the narrative of his first book, Cape to Cape, self-published in 1997.
Prior to entering teacher’s college in 2000, Ray was assistant editor of Wilderness magazine for a year. Since then, he has been a regular contributor. When Ray and his wife moved to Nelson, he joined the Nelson Tramping Club, becoming editor of the club journal for a decade.
In 2020, Ray’s second book was published by Potton and Burton. Titled Tableland – the history behind Mt Arthur, the book is a social history of the eastern part of Kahurangi National Park.
[ See more about Tableland history here. ]
In 2022 he self-published a picture book on Nelson with a concise historical overview woven through the pages.
Ray currently works as a photographer, videographer and writer as well as teaching photography. Wanna fast-track your photography?
Check out Ray's excellent courses at here Hot Pixels.





  • A 23-year-old woman paddles around the South Island, in winter.

  • Two young mountaineers defy belief by climbing the 24 highest mountains in New Zealand — in a single month.

  • A long-distance runner fulfils her childhood dream by running the length of the country in 42 days.

  • A multi-sport legend strives to keep ahead of his competitors while racing from Cape to Bluff.

  • A middle-aged journalist pioneers a new 3000-km trail.

  • A teenage dropout decides to walk around New Zealand’s coastline for 600 days, alone.

  • A handful of outdoor instructors set high benchmarks: the first Southern Alps traverse, the first kayak circumnavigation, the first continuous tramp from North Cape to Rakiura.

In EPIC, the author has selected a handful of ground-breaking journeys that cross the length and breadth of New Zealand and span five decades. Each chapter captures the drama and tension of an expedition. Some of the stories are heart-warming; some are jaw-dropping; all are intimate and engaging.

Illustrated with historical images and detailed colour maps, this anthology will appeal to both the outdoor adventurer and the armchair variety. It is a vital contribution to New Zealand’s outdoor literature and preserves critical history that will continue to inspire future generations. These tales are the stuff of Kiwi folklore and deserve to be celebrated.

Anchor 2

04 Author interviews Sir Graeme Dingle


In the winter of 1971, Graeme Dingle and Jill Tremain attempted the first traverse of the South Island’s mountain spine, the Southern Alps. For most of the 100 days, the two friends suffered terrible weather. Though imperfect and disjointed, their pioneering journey showed other New Zealanders what was possible, setting a high benchmark. Graeme Dingle’s account of their traverse, Two Against the Alps, has inspired dozens of Kiwis to embark on similar expeditions over the past five decades.

05 Author interviews Geoff Chapple


Geoff Chapple reveals his own journey walking the length of his country, trailblazing. Geoff is the founder of the Te Araroa Trail which runs approx. 3000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff at the bottom of New Zealand. By 2023, about 4000 thru-hikers were walking the TA every year.


This EPIC book was possible through the generous funding from the following organisations:

Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC): Mountain & Forest Trust
This umbrella NGO represents NZ's tramping clubs and wider outdoor community, lobbying for access and keeping the government honest.

Federated Mountain Clubs

New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC): DOW HALL Publication Fund

NZAC website

Lighthouse Creative, Nelson: Videos, pagination, book and map design.

Anchor 1

© 2024 by Lighthouse Creative, Nelson, New Zealand | Email: |

bottom of page