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About the book
  • Published: 1 March 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775530718
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 208

River of Blood

Tales of the Waiatoto


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Epic adventure. survival and tragedy in New Zealand's own 'Wild West' frontier, the Waiatoto Valley.

Epic adventures, survival and tragedy in New Zealand's own 'Wild West' frontier, the Waiatoto Valley.

Deep into the heart of the Waiatoto Valley on the savage West Coast is New Zealand's own Wild West: a place which may never really be ‘won’. Its pioneers, musterers, hunters and pilots of South Westland’s Haast District have had to face isolation, rugged geography and atrocious weather that's sometimes so bad for so long that the hair begins to rot from the backs of live cattle.

The folk who’ve lived there for three generations have been shaped by the land. Ranging from mountain exploration to epic two-week cattle droves through dense bush, wild rivers and over dangerous passes; from hacking an existence out of feral isolation to high adrenaline pursuits, this book encompasses often poignant, sometimes bizarre, tales of tragedy and dogged survival.

It's a book for all those who are gripped by West Coast lore, and for adventurers of all kinds — pilots and bushmen, hunters and fishermen, stockmen, musterers and drovers alike, boaties, trampers and mountaineers.

River of Blood gives us the sense of people living by their wits, and with fearsome grit. A place that, even now, fits the label ‘The Last Frontier’.

  • Pub date: 1 March 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775530718
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 208

About the Author

John Breen

John Breen, author of River of Blood: Tales of the Waiatoto, records the epic adventures, disasters, tragedies and courageous stories of those who have taken on ‘the final frontier’, our very own ‘Wild West’. The Waiatoto is situated deep in South Westland on New Zealand’s wild West Coast. With an introduction from poet and environmentalist Brian Turner, here is a compelling story of unique people in a unique place — probably a frontier that will never be tamed. John is a professional quantity surveyor who has worked in the family construction business since 1966, acting as manager from 1978 to 2003. He has taken on construction contracts in many of New Zealand’s wild and difficult places; where extreme, some dangerous conditions are a given. He has also published I Was Going Home This Arvo! – 70 years of building in the towns, valleys and backblocks of southern New Zealand, an illustrated account of his family’s four-generation involvement in the construction industry.A keen hunter, fisherman, climber and skier, he was introduced to the incomparable wilds of the Waiatoto by Kerry Eggeling in 1977.


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