Philip Temple



Philip Temple’s non-fiction books embrace a wide variety of genres. His first books, Nawok! (1962)**, The Sea and the Snow (1966), The World At Their Feet (1969), and Castles in the Air (1973) told the stories of his own and other mountaineers’ adventures in the great ranges of the world.

During the 1970s Philip published a sequence of bestselling photographic books that culminated in Ways to the Wilderness, Great Walking Tracks of New Zealand (1977). This was accompanied by pocket guides to individual tracks which sold tens of thousands of copies, opening the way for the proliferation of walking track guides that were to follow. He has also collaborated in numerous other pictorial publications such as Central (2003), which won the Montana Illustrative Award in 2004 and, most recently, High Country (2012).

Philip’s continuing interest in the natural environment saw his publication of The Book of the Kea (1996) and an anthology of writing about nature and landscape Lake, Mountain, Tree (1998). Most recently, he was curator and writer for the displays at the Department of Conservation’s new Aoraki/Mount Cook Visitor Centre (2004-2009).

In the 1980s, Philip engaged more with themes rooted in New Zealand history. He combined his writing and photographic talents with his exploration skills and physically retraced the journeys of seven early European explorers to produce New Zealand Explorers, Great Journeys of Discovery (1985)**. This entailed him climbing both Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Taranaki as well as exploring remote back country. The book was a Wattie Award finalist.

Philip converted three of his explorer stories into TV drama-documentaries and became the script writer and script editor for three subsequent major NZ documentary series such as Our People, Our Century. For an episode of this, he won the award for Best Documentary/Factual Script for 2000.

In the belief that writers should employ their skills for worthwhile social causes, Philip became involved in the electoral reform campaign of the early 1990s which saw the introduction of the Mixed Member Proportional system for electing the New Zealand Parliament. His articles and small books, such as Making Your Vote Count (1992) were influential in the debate and he was given a Wallace Award by the Electoral Commission for this work.

During the 1990s, Philip turned increasingly to historical and biographical subjects. Eleven years of research and writing culminated in the multi-award winning volume A Sort of Conscience, The Wakefields (2002). By that time he had published a pictorial history of New Zealand, Presenting New Zealand (2001 and 2008)** which has been a best-seller internationally; and The Last True Explorer (2002)**, an in-depth memoir of his explorations and climbing in West Papua 40 years earlier. His own life memoir, Chance Is A Fine Thing appeared in 2009.

**Indicates that copies may be available from the author. Contact

photo by Maja Moritz