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Neville Peat
Photo Credit: © Neville Peat

Neville Peat

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Neville Peat is an award-winning author and photographer of over 30 books, covering themes of geography, biography, natural history and the environment. His biographies include the bestselling Hurricane Tim: The Story of Sir Tim Wallis.

In the late 1970s he spent two summers at Scott Base, New Zealand’s Antarctica station on Ross Island, as a journalist and photographer, and has written five books on Antarctic themes. In 2007 he was awarded New Zealand’s most valuable literary prize, the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers’ Fellowship for a book about the Tasman Sea (The Tasman: Biography of an ocean). Wild Dunedin: Enjoying the natural history of New Zealand’s wildlife capital (with Brian Patrick) won the 1996 Natural Heritage category of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and their Wild Fiordland was shortlisted in 1997.In 1994 he was named Dunedin Citizen of the Year, in acknowledgement of his books on the region and his work in establishing the Dunedin Environmental Business Network.

He has served as a councillor and as deputy chair on the Otago Regional Council, and has chaired it Environment and Science Committee.Neville’s other books include: Snow Dogs: The huskies of Antarctica; Detours; The Incredible Kiwi; Land Aspiring: The story of Mount Aspiring National Park; Coasting: The sea lion and the lark; Subantarctic New Zealand: A rare heritage; Antarctic Partners: 50 years of New Zealand and United States Cooperation in Antarctica, 1957–2007; High Country Lark; and Seabird Genius: The Story of L. E. Richdale, the royal albatross and the yellow-eyed penguin.

He has undertaken commissioned work for Otago Museum, and his comprehensive report on the sub-Antarctic islands earned World Heritage Area status for five groups of the islands. Neville is a fifth-generation descendant of Scottish pioneers in Otago. He lives at Broad Bay, Otago Peninsula; the family home fittingly near populations of royal albatross, yellow-eyed penguin, New Zealand (Hooker’s) sea lion and New Zealand fur seal, about which Neville has written many times. See www.nevillepeatsnewzealand.com.

Fascinated by wild and remote environments, dynamic landscapes and unique fauna and flora, he has explored much of New Zealand and the South Pacific, from the far-flung tropical atolls of Tokelau, to the snow and ice of the Ross Dependency, Antarctica.

Reviewing Shackleton’s Whisky, which covers Shackleton’s 1907 ‘heroic age’ expedition to Antarctica, the discovery 100 years later of some of the expedition’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky, and the subsequent replicating of that whisky by McKinlay’s successor, Scottish distillery White & McKay, DScene wrote: ‘Peat binds these multiple strands together cleverly, connecting the past to the present through his typically rigorous research.’ While all seem to agree with the Oamaru Mail’s assessment of Shackleton’s Whisky as ‘a cracking yarn’, many reviewers have praised the underlying complexity of the story’s varied components, and the way Peat brings them apparently effortlessly together.

For example, the Saturday Express said: ‘Through careful study of historical documents and through visits to London and Antarctica, Peat has put a human face on the group, young men from different backgrounds who survived close quarters in one of the world’s most harsh environments. It is a captivating and well-told story, cleverly connecting the past with the present.’ The Nelson Mail concurred: ‘Shackleton’s Whisky is a remarkable story. It gives a fascinating and detailed account, not only of the Nimrod expedition, but also of the whisky-making process as it was 100 years ago. … This book blends two charismatic journeys: that of Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 Nimrod expedition, and the recreation of a rare old highland single-malt whisky.’

The limited edition of the replica whisky was released in 2011 to international acclaim. The master blender responsible for replicating the original whisky, said of the original whisky: ‘Excellent. Bloody marvellous!’ and famously proclaimed its taste as ‘Sheer heaven.’