Colin Monteath’s ‘Erebus The Ice Dragon’ Wins Book of the Year 2024


Colin Monteath’s ‘Erebus The Ice Dragon’ Wins Prestigious Nankervis/Bamford NZ Mountain Book of the Year 2024

Colin Monteath has been named as the recipient of the Nankervis/Bamford NZ Mountain Book of the Year for 2024 for his book Erebus The Ice Dragon: A Portrait of an Antarctic Volcano. The $2000 grand prize is awarded in the NZ Mountain Book Competition as part of the long-running NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival.

The stories of Erebus are as spell-binding as the ice dragon’s environment. With 32 seasons in Antarctica under his belt and having made the first descent into the inner crater of Erebus, accomplished photographer and writer Colin Monteath knows well the beauty, tragedy and magnetism of this icy, active volcano. Weaving history, science, art and adventure into a compelling tale, supported by images taken over his lifetime of working and voyaging in the region, his book guides us through the many facets of this geological phenomenon.

Colin says, “Erebus The Ice Dragon is a fiery odyssey beginning in 1840 and, from 1959 onwards, involving many Kiwi mountaineers, scientists and artists.  It’s been a privilege to tell this story, the first Antarctic book to focus on a single mountain. I’m very proud to have this mountain adventure book recognised as the winner of the Nankervis/Bamford Award.”

Colin will be speaking at the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival in Wānaka on Monday 24 June.

The Mountain Book Competition covers literature on the world’s remote places, expedition tales and stories about people and their adventures. Submissions were invited for two categories: Mountain and Adventure Narrative for stories and accounts about specific adventures, (non-fiction); and Mountain and Adventure Heritage for guidebooks, coffee table or picture books, history books, analyses, reflections on culture, environments or ethics and advocacy.

The Heritage Award goes to Desmond Bovey for his book Tongariro National Park: An Artist’s Field Guide.

The judges described Desmond’s book as “Magical, detailed and pretty, with immense value as a guide and companion for mountain walkers and nature artists.”

Desmond says, “It’s an honour to receive this award – for myself, for publishers Potton & Burton, and above all for Tongariro National Park itself. The book has been a journey of discovery and it is my hope that it will be also for its readers, and that it will contribute to their own love of the park’s powerful landscapes.”

He explains that he was inspired to create the book having returned to New Zealand after thirty years in France and looking to reconnect with the landscapes of his youth.

I was looking for a way back in, hunting for a landscape to love. I was wondering if I’d made a terrible mistake.”

He chose Tongariro National Park, inspired by a chance encounter with a kārerea, the New Zealand falcon and explains:

The encounter with the kārerea – its boldness, its totem stillness, its hooded eyes – spoke to me. I’d been right to come home! For two years I returned again and again to the park with paper and pencil. I drew what I saw. I learned as I went along. Gradually, almost organically, a pile of papers and notebooks turned into a book.

Victoria Bruce takes out the Narrative Award for her book Adventures with Emilie: Taking on Te Araroa Trail in 138 Life-changing Days. Victoria took on the “Long Path” with her seven-year-old daughter and her book is an honest and personal story of trauma and emotional dysregulation, and how her outdoor challenges helped her to face her past and forge a courageous new direction in life.

Walking the length of New Zealand with only my beautiful little seven-year-old daughter for company while grappling with the demons of complex post-traumatic stress disorder involved some incredibly hard mahi, but writing Adventures with Emilie was so much harder,” Victoria shares.

She continues, “It took tremendous strength and courage to share my story with the world, and I wasn’t always sure I was going to get there, or how the story would be received. For these reasons, and many more, I am deeply humbled and incredibly grateful to be the recipient of the 2024 Mountain Book competition Narrative Award.”

My heartfelt thanks to the judges and festival organisers at the NZ Mountain Film & Book Festival for this acknowledgement, and to my publishing team at Penguin Random House NZ for their ongoing support. I hope that my book can inspire others to reconnect with their natural world as a source of healing and a place of peace, joy, and adventure.

Victoria will also be a guest speaker during the festival in Wānaka.

Before selecting the winners of the 2024 NZ Mountain Book competition, the judges had a difficult task narrowing the entries down to six finalists.

Head judge Laura Williamson said, “Reading through this year’s Mountain Book Festival entries was a pleasure, narrowing down a list of finalists was hard yakka. Every book stood out in its own way.”

In the end, the winners stood out even more, each approaching our wild places and the people who explore them in new and profound ways.

Adventures with Emilie is a compelling, and sometimes harrowing, personal story that embodies the “why” of outdoor adventure; Tongariro National Park: An Artist’s Field Guide is gorgeous, rendering a treasured place through the eyes of an artist; and Erebus The Ice Dragon: A Portrait of an Antarctic Volcano is a sprawling, multifaceted contemplation of a mountain that looms large in the national psyche of Aotearoa.”

Each of these books left me with a fresh perspective on what an “adventurous lifestyle” can mean, and can be.”

The 2024 finalists were:
– Mountain & Adventure Narrative Award
– Everest Mountain Guide by Guy Cotter
– A Fine Line by Graham Zimmerman
– Adventures with Emilie by Victoria Bruce

Mountain & Adventure Heritage Award
– Tongariro National Park: An Artist’s Field Guide by Desmond Bovey
– Erebus: The Ice Dragon by Colin Monteath
– Takahē by Alison Ballance

The following were Highly Commended by the judges:

– Finding Frank by Louise Maich
– Unsinkable by Alan Corcoran

The overall prize for the Nankervis/Bamford NZ Mountain Book of the Year is awarded for
a book that brings the mountain experience into the hearts and minds of the reader and leaves people with a knowledge of, and respect for, the place the mountains play in the human and physical worlds.

The NZ Mountain Film & Book Festival will run in Wānaka from 21 to 25 June, in Queenstown 27 to 28 June, and films will be available to watch online in NZ and Australia throughout July. The festival’s literary events include guest speakers, author readings, book signings and book launches.