Nature lovers guide to wild New Zealand

Nature lovers guide to wild New Zealand – a media release from Tourism NZ

30 Jun 2010

Nature lovers heading out into the New Zealand wild and keen to learn can now arm themselves with a comprehensive all-in-one guide to the native flora and fauna they encounter.

A newly-released, pocket-sized field guide wraps up the information and material needed to identify the vast array of plants, birds, insects and animals that people are most likely to come across when they travel throughout New Zealand.

Called The Bateman Field Guide to Wild New Zealand, the small format book has full colour images and text by well-known environmental author and naturalist Julian Fitter, who now lives in the Bay of Plenty, in New Zealand’s North Island.

NZ guide books
Fitter, who moved to New Zealand from the United Kingdom, said he wrote the book because when he first arrived he had been amazed at the number of guides to New Zealand birds, plants, insects and marine life and specific locations – alpine or forest – that existed.

“But for the traveller not wanting to cart around a library-shelf of books there was no single volume that described the major and most interesting species covering all NZ’s flora and fauna,” Fitter said.

Julian Fitter is also the author of a natural history field guide to the Galapagos, the Bradt Wildlife New Zealand guide and co-authored Albatross: Their world, their ways – a finalist in the Environment category of the 2009 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

Wild New Zealand
The new Bateman New Zealand field guide has information on native birds, insects, snails, reptiles, marine mammals, land mammals, trees and shrubs, vines and epiphytes, herbaceous plants, ferns, grasses, mosses, fungi and lichens.

It also contains a brief survey of New Zealand’s varied habitats and geological history, including major geothermal areas.

More than 600 species are described in detail, with accompanying information on habitat and a full colour photograph – all organised in an easy-to-follow format that simplifies identification.

Julian Fitter
Julian Fitter moved to New Zealand five years ago to research and write the guide, and is now working on other titles as well as continuing his conservation effort.

His first book on Galapagos wildlife, in similar format to the New Zealand guide, was published in 2000.

Since arriving in New Zealand, Fitter has set up Friends of the Galapagos New Zealand, a registered charity dedicated to preserving the Galapagos Islands. He helped set up a similar group in the UK and also for the Falklands Islands, after working in both places.

Fitter now lives in the Bay of Plenty, on New Zealand’s North Island, where he is involved in local conservation initiatives and chairs the Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Group.

The conservationists are working to re-establish wetlands in the Maketu area of the east coast where drainage over the past 100 years resulted in significant loss of wetland habitat.

Environmental importance
Wetlands were now considered of extreme environmental importance as they acted as an effective buffer between the sea, rivers and the land, he said. They also acted as a filter to cleanse run-off from farmland into the sea.

The two harbour areas either side of Maketu and the lower Kaituna River at Maketu had been identified as being of national and international significance, Fitter said.

The wetlands group is working with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the local councils to gain Ramsar status for the area – the world heritage equivalent for wetlands.

UK Birdfair 2010
Fitter, whose father was a natural history writer and his brother a botanist, will return to the UK in August 2010 to address the BirdFair – described as the largest eco-tourism fair in the world.

His address on New Zealand wildlife entitled ‘Awesome Aotearoa’ will also be the subject of an article in Forest and Bird magazine.

“I am more than happy to be raising the profile of New Zealand wildlife – our biodiversity is like nowhere else on earth,” said Fitter.

Julian Fitter will address the UK Birdfair on 20 August.