Uprising: Walking the Southern Alps of New Zealand - Nic Low

Uprising: Walking the Southern Alps of New Zealand - Nic Low

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This book is about walking as a form of knowing. Armed with Ngai Tahu's ancient oral maps and modern satellite atlas, I crossed the Southern Alps more than a dozen times, trying to understand how our forebears saw the land.

What did it mean to define your identity by sacred mountains, or actually see them as ancestors, turned to stone? Raised in the shadow of New Zealand's Southern Alps, Nic Low grew up on stories of mountain exploration from his family's European side. Years later, a vision of the alps in a bank of storm clouds sparked his return home, and a decade-long obsession with comprehending how his Maori ancestors knew that same terrain.

Ka Tiritiri o te Moana, the alps, form the backbone of the Ngai Tahu tribe's territory: five hundred kilometres of mountains and glaciers, rivers and forests. Far from being virgin wilderness, the area was named and owned long before Europeans arrived and the struggle for control of the land began. Low talked with tribal leaders, dived into the archives and an astonishing family memoir, and took what he learned for a walk.

Part gripping adventure story, part meditation on history and place, Uprising recounts his alpine expeditions to unlock the stories living in the land. What does it mean to transport pounamu, greenstone, across three hundred kilometres of rivers and ranges for the first time in almost two centuries? How does it feel to climb the sacred peak Aoraki / Mt Cook, then deliberately turn back before the top? And if you ignore traditional omens and try to cross the Main Divide in the dead of winter, should you expect to survive?

Uprising brings a staunchly indigenous perspective to the walking tradition of writers like Robert Macfarlane. It is an invitation to travel one of the world's most spectacular landscapes in the footsteps of Maori explorers, raiding parties, and gods.

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