The Wonder Country: Making New Zealand Tourism
The Wonder Country is the story of tourism in New Zealand from 1870 through to the end of the twentieth century, written with an eye to pleasure as well as information.
Government was the prime mover especially in the early days and McClure follows the development of the major tourist sites and landmark hotels – Rotorua, the Hermitage, Waitomo, the Chateau, Milford and Te Anau. Later she describes the Centennial Exhibition, the establishment of the National Film Unit, the Tourist Hotel Corporation and Air New Zealand. Activities like taking the waters, skiing, fishing, and climbing are as important in this story as places and institutions. And the book is full of enterprising and energetic characters such as Thomas Donne, the first Superintendent of the ‘Tourist and Health Resorts Department’, the dashing Peter Graham, Chief Guide at the Hermitage, Yorkshireman Eric Colbeck, General Manager of the THC, who encouraged the elegant sandwich and the warming of the cognac glass; cameo parts are played of course by Zane Grey and the lady mountaineer Freda du Faur. Dramas include fires, volcanic explosions and the catching of enormous fish.
The Wonder Country is a carefully researched, useful and entertaining book.
More about Margaret McClure
The photographs are wonderful, and it’s a gripping read about an industry that’s grown to employ one in 10 Kiwis, earn $6 billion annually and attracted more the two million overseas visitors last year. – Marina Skinner, Dominion Post