Wananga landing Wananga landing
CUP book

From Tussocks to Tourists: The story of the central Canterbury high country

20 November 2023

By David Relph


(Out of print)

February 2007
168pp, paperback
280 x 210mm, colour throughout
ISBN: 978-1-877257-46-9

The Waimakariri, the Rakaia, the Rangitata – the catchments of these mighty rivers make up the magnificent high country of central Canterbury.

From Tussocks to Tourists The story of the central Canterbury high country

From Tussocks to Tourists explores this fascinating region and explains the formation of high country landforms

  • the infamous nor’wester gales and dramatic snowfalls
  • the alpine herb gardens, tussock grasslands and other unique ecosystems
  • the arrival and effects of foreign plants and animals    
  • the early explorers and establishment of the first high country pastoral runs
  • the big sheep stations that have been the heart of the Canterbury high country for nearly 150 years
  • the sagas surrounding the trans-alpine road and railway
  • the traditional use of the area for recreation
  • the recent development of tourism
  • the contentious issues of conservation and land tenure
  • the way the Canterbury high country has inspired art and literature.

This book is for those who know and love the Canterbury high country, and also those who have glimpsed the area and wish to learn more about this iconic part of New Zealand.

David Relph grew up in the late 1930s and 1940s on a sheep run in the high country. He attended the University of Canterbury, obtaining an MSc in Geography before embarking upon a teaching career in secondary schools, mostly in the Auckland region. Over the last 25 years he has written many secondary-school textbooks on science and biology and on conservation issues. He has also published occasional articles in a variety of journals and magazines. David is a keen tramper and photographer, and has travelled widely. These skills and interests have come together in following a childhood dream to write From Tussocks to Tourists.

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