Book Reviews » CAVES

August 3rd 2017


By  Marcus Thomas & Neil Silverwood
Potton & Burton

Review Lynnaire Johnston

RRP $80

This is another hefty tome from a publishing house that specialises in whopping great books that pack a powerful punch.

Subtitled, ‘Exploring New Zealand’s Subterranean Wilderness’, Caves is nothing less than fascinating. Particularly as my only caving experience (near Waitomo) was memorable for all the wrong reasons. It was dark (who knew?), and wet, so how’s a girl supposed to cope!

Clearly there are many more adventurous, less claustrophobic souls than me who enjoy caving and I’m glad that’s true because this book is the result.

It is a magnificent work: fabulous photos, many of which cover a page and a half of this wide (400mm) format book; detailed maps of each of the 10 cave systems included; a glossary; an explanation of the country’s cave geology and even information about how caves are surveyed. Whew!

This is total immersion caving, past and present, told through the exploration of each system.

When a book is as well written as this you get hooked in to the story, but it’s the accompanying photos that truly steal the show. They portray cavers struggling through tiny gaps in rocks, underground waterfalls and streams, and the astonishingly diverse and beautiful lifeforms and crystals beneath our feet.

We spend an awful lot of time gazing up at the sky. We spend very little time contemplating what’s below us, let alone visiting it. Which, given its incredible beauty, is a pity. But perhaps caving will be the next adventure tourism trend. We certainly have enough of them to keep any number of international visitors happy.

Caves would make a great gift. You might be looked at a bit oddly by the recipient to begin with but, trust me, once they open it, they’ll be hooked. In fact, once you buy it you may decide to keep it for yourself. And I, for one, would completely understand.

Short review

Caves is the sort of book you spot in a shop and wish someone would buy for you, even if you’re not into caving. By the time you explore the huge amount of information presented and all the glorious photos contained in this book, you’ll be hooked – even if you never head underground yourself.