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Over A Thousand Dollars For Winning NZ Book Author

The NZ Mountain Book and Film Festival invited authors to submit books on the world’s remote places, expedition tales, and stories about people and their adventures for their Mountain Book competition. The competition categories are in keeping with the festival theme: a celebration of adventure sports and lifestyles. They include Mountain and Adventure Heritage, Mountain and Adventure Narrative and the 2020 NZ Mountain Book of the Year. Twenty-four books were submitted from New Zealand, Australia and the United States and the judges were delighted with the calibre of the entries.

The Mountain and Adventure Heritage award and 2020 NZ Mountain Book of the Year has been awarded to The Great Unknown by Geoff Spearpoint of Christchurch. This book is a chronicle of over 50 years of trans-alpine journeys through the Southern Alps. Spearpoint has undertaken many long, adventurous trips in the Southern Alps, every year, decade after decade, making him a legend among New Zealand's tramping and mountaineering community.

The large-format style is illustrated with Spearpoint’s magnificent photography; it reads as poetry, a guidebook and a memoir combined. This unique interpretation will resonate with backcountry trampers and mountaineers as it uniquely captures elements of our landscape, culture and the joy of the our relationship with the backcountry of New Zealand.

For Spearpoint the book is a celebration of a lifetime of exploring and the power of shared experiences. On learning of the awards he said, “You never know what you are going to find in your inbox. That’s fantastic news! I had looked at the competition and told myself not to get my hopes up, and now this. I’m very, very appreciative. Thank you.” He went on to say “I had a call from a man from Christchurch I have never met before this morning. He led a trip over Desperation Pass into the Joe River (Olivines) in 1954, and I mentioned him in the book. He had read that and relived the experience chatting on the phone. You never know where these things are going to lead you when you begin, or who you are going to meet as a result, but that is part of the fun.”

Spearpoint will receive $250 for the Mountain and Adventure Heritage award, sponsored by Wanaka Paper Plus and $1000 for the NZ Mountain Book of the Year prize. He will also be speaking about his book at the Festival as well as reading from The Great Unknown during the online Words and Wine session.

The NZ Mountain Book of the Year $1,000 prize money has been generously donated by Dave Bamford and John Nankervis. The pair have immersed themselves in the New Zealand mountains, first as prolific exploratory mountaineers (both here and abroad) and, as their physical powers have waned, as aficionados of mountain writing. Both have extensive collections of mountain-themed books and their contribution aims to encourage and support writers of high-quality work that brings the mountain experience – in whatever form – into the hearts and minds of readers. The prize is only awarded for a book of the very highest quality, and may not be awarded every year.

The winner of the Mountain and Adventure Narrative award, Living the Best Day Ever, was compiled by close friends from the journals of the late Hendri Coetzee. The book takes readers on unique journeys throughout Africa, detailing the full descent of the Nile: through over 6,600km, 10 countries, 2 war zones, countless hippos and crocodiles, grade 6 rapids and the world's largest swamp. Hendri's writing is eloquent and raw, solemn and hilarious, deeply introverted and at other times wildly hedonistic. It is an engaging rollercoaster of adventure, true to his mantra, "Today is the best day ever because tomorrow might not come." Hendri Coetzee was taken from his kayak by a crocodile, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2010. The award is a $250 cash prize, sponsored by Bike it Now.

Copies of both books will be available for purchase at the main venue in Wanaka during the festival.

The award-winning films will be announced on June 1 when the full festival programme and tickets will be made available at

About the New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival 2020 live events will run in Wanaka and Queenstown from 26 to 28 June. Online events will run from 26 June to 5 July. The event is a celebration of adventurous sports and lifestyles presented for adventurers, film and book enthusiasts and armchair adventurers.

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival is a member of the International Alliance of Mountain Film, hosting speakers, a world-class line-up of films, and a broad range of literary events, all celebrating adventurous sports and lifestyles.

The festival holds an international adventure filmmaking competition that receives submissions from filmmakers from all over the world. The finalists make up the festival programme, screened both off- and on-line. The standard is exceptionally high and the event sits on the world stage alongside other well-known events.

The Mountain Book competition champions the theme of ‘adventure sports and lifestyles’. Written work is submitted in a range of categories to win prize money and compete for the NZ Mountain Book of the Year. The Mountain Book event also features author readings, old-fashioned storytelling, writing workshops and children’s events.

From off-the-cuff storytelling to highly crafted film-making and written works, all events celebrate the love of adventure and the outdoors, the environment and foreign cultures. The festival line-up includes world-famous speakers, a packed programme of adventure, cultural and environmental films, informal storytelling, workshops, author readings, an adventure trade show and a free youth programme.

The festival programme is available online and tickets can be purchased from June 1 at


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