This is a massive book - big in size and big in content. It's over 300 pages and includes about 300 images. Hardback and jacketed, it's a major gift book offering for Christmas. It's a celebration of the most phenomenal landform in New Zealand - the Southern Alps - the backbone of the country. This book tells the stories of the Southern Alps - the geology, the weather, the glaciers, the rivers, the flora, the fauna, the Maori history and European history. Alison Ballance tells these stories in an incredibly imaginative and yet methodical way. For example she tells the story of a snowflake and how over time it becomes a glacier; or she takes a tussock plant and describes how it fits into the complex botanic community of the alps. The result is a very readable and accessible natural and human history that is also beautifully written - a ground breaking title in the New Zealand natural history genre. This book is also lovingly illustrated with many images both modern and historical - ranging from Arno Gasteiger's stunning photography through to botanical illustrations from the National Library. This special book will be a must-have on the Christmas present list.
Alison Ballance has a BSc in zoology from Auckland University, and an MSc(Hons) in zoology from Massey University. She worked as a park interpreter in Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks, and for DOC and DSIR before starting work for the television production company Natural History NZ Ltd in 1990. She has produced and directed 15 wildlife documentaries for broadcasters such as National Geographic and Discovery Channels. She has made films on animals such as wetas, kakapo and tigers, and on places ranging from Mongolia to Ecuador's Andes. She is currently working on her 25th book.