By Tony Orman

The Wild Twins by Amber and Serena Shine [aged 28 at present] tells of some incredible outdoor adventures by a set of twins who grew up on a family farm family farm in rural Waiuku, north of Auckland. As youngsters they were soon attuned to and developed outdoor skills which led them later in life, to tackling some formidable outdoor challenges. 

As twins they naturally and often do things together. They have:-

  • run the world’s highest marathon on Mount Everest, 
  • walked jaguars in the Amazon, 
  • sailed treacherous seas from Hawai’i to San Francisco, 
  • navigated ice falls while climbing Mount Cook, 
  • raced 322 kilometres on a dogsled, 
  • survived naked in the African wilderness for twenty-one days on the hit Discovery show Naked and Afraid

Hunting features in the first and final chapters.

The adventures are amazing, but might have deserved more riveting writing so as to capture the moods and excitement, simply because the adventures and challenges they took on were often so demanding of courage and nerve.

Strength and endurance and positive attitudes were often required. The motivational “one pagers” that feature at the end of chapters are excellent.

Unfortunately an “Epilogue” at the end lapsed into some words jumbled together. Proof reading was needed. I have no doubt these two effervescent young women would have been disappointed. But for all that it’s an excellent read of amazing adventures by a couple of remarkable women.

However, this is more than a book just about outdoor adventures. Amber and Serena Shine have wilderness imprinted in their genes. Right from childhood their upbringing ensured the twins would never be far from the bush and mountains in sight.   In The Wild Twins, they share their most extreme achievements, revealing the secrets behind their strength and endurance and advice on facing life with positive attitudes.

Strongly recommended.

(The Wild Twins by Amber and Serena Shine is published by HarperCollins. RRP $39.99)

English writer Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame once said “Not all those who wander are lost.” That quote is very apt to Paul Kilgour. He is a wanderer, reveling in the mountains and mountain huts. Gone Bush is about a lifetime of walking the backcountry. It tells stories of the eccentric characters he met along the way, some of the 1,200 huts he’s visited, and his most memorable journeys, including an incredible ‘long walk home’ from deepest Fiordland to the top of Golden Bay.

Indeed he does wander in his hikes indeed into his own life and relationships, but it’s never overdone.

Author Paul Kilgour began tramping as a young boy from the North Auckland family farm.  But it was the South island with its grander alpine scenery that hooked him when as a 20 year old he ventured up Canterbury’s Waimakiriri River. In those first years in the 1970s there was less trampers and solitude was not difficult to find.

“When I started, it was possible to walk through somewhere like the Abel Tasman Park and see virtually nobody.”

He identifies with backcountry characters who sought solitude like the swaggers, recluses, latter day prospectors and high country musterers. To him the bush is paramount, with its clean air and the quietness. Time can stop even to the point where you’re not sure which day of the week it is. It is peacefully humbling. “You feel part of Nature, no more special than the birds in the trees or any other creature,” he writes. He admits to battles in personal life with depression but in those “down” times the bush was often a solace and saviour.

This is a most enjoyable book especially for the reader who may have wandered to many of the huts he chalks up. Not surprisingly Paul Kilgour is rated as a ‘hut bagging legend.”

The striking cover invites one to turn the pages and it’s never regretted. Gone Bush is always interesting.

(Gone Bush by Paul Kilgour is published by Harper Collins. RRP $39.99)