Great Book on Ice’s Profound Effect on NZ’s landscapes

“Vanishing Ice”  subtitled “Stories of New Zealand’s Glaciers” by Lynley Hargreaves, published by Potton and Burton. Price $59.99. Reviewed by Tony Orman

If like me you’ve been in the hills or mountains, tramping, hunting or fishing a wilderness stream and you pause to sit down and just admire some landscape feature. Geological forces are constantly at work especially in a geologically young country like New Zealand.
Geology is fascinating because it involves forces over millions and millions of years – the human life is hardly a blink of the eye in geological time.
Glaciers – rivers of ice –  have had profound effects on the South Island landscapes, fiords, the U shaped valleys and even hills that were once the morainic rubble that giant rivers of ice pushed down valleys. 
“Vanishing Ice” tells of glaciers but intriguingly enhanced with recollections of discoveries and human endeavour. The book is a look at the ice ages over millions of years then the subsequent retreat of the ice as the earth warmed. Living in Marlborough, I’m aware a giant glacier once extended down the Wairau valley to the Branch River’s confluence. The hill on the state highway is the terminal moraine  left by the glacier. Today there is no glacier existing in the Wairau even in the headwaters. Similarly the West Coast glaciers, Franz Josef and Fox, are in the process of retreating.
This is an excellent book for anyone with an interest in the mountains, landforms or geology.   The author delves into history even back to the examining the pivotal role the sunken continent of Zealandia may have played in our emergence from the last ice age. 
What I found disruptive to smooth reading was the current fad of sole use of Maori names despite the European name having been in common use for a century or more. For example, in mentioning the South Island, Te Waipounamu is the only name used.
If it its felt fitting to use the Maori name do so but with the the more common European name in brackets? It would have been simple to put in brackets “South Island” after Te Waipounamu.
Nevertheless “Vanishing Ice” is a wonderful book. Great photos and some wonderful historical ones, add to a beautifully presented work. The author’s diligent research make it an impressively informative read. Highly recommended.

Vanishing Ice Cover 300dpi.jpeg

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