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Touring Edwardian New Zealand by Paul Moon

What a treat of a book, from its gorgeous cover to its well-considered contents and fascinating historical photographs!

In 1902 the travel agency Thomas Cook published the guide, New Zealand as a Tourist and Health Resort, seeking to encourage tourists to come to Aotearoa from the other side of the world. This old volume provides a rare insight into New Zealand’s Edwardian past and the introduction of mass-market tourism.

In Touring Edwardian New Zealand, Professor Paul Moon ‘traces the routes taken by Edwardian tourists who used the guide to tour New Zealand in the opening decade of the twentieth century.’ The author examines the social and cultural changes during this time as Edwardian tourists travel from Auckland, Northland, Waitomo, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill and the West Coast.

In the Thomas Cook guide, New Zealand is a romantic place of prosperity, happiness, magnificent scenery and a charming indigenous population seemingly happy to welcome the visiting tourists. But Paul Moon reveals the complexities of the real New Zealand at this time in history and reveals the truth behind the hyperbole, the reality behind the romance.

Touring Edwardian New Zealand is a fascinating read that takes us back in time while examining many of the paradoxes of the era. One photograph highlights the beauty of early morning in Moturoa, with only a passing reference to the massacre that occurred there. Tourists are encouraged to ascend Ngauruhoe, although even getting to the area would be hazardous, and no potential dangers of the mountain are mentioned. And I would have loved to have gone to one of the health resorts promoted, with their curative properties seeming to sort any ailment.

Organised by location, this is a fascinating read, and I would definitely like to take this book with me as a guide for any places I travel to in New Zealand in the future. It’s captured such an interesting time in our history as Aotearoa begins to establish its own identity.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Bateman Books