Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls
Cheng, Johnny T. (author)
Story Nature Press, 2006
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Johnny Cheng's "Guide to the Waterfalls of New Zealand" is, to the best of our knowledge, the first guidebook written covering the waterfall-saturated country of New Zealand. How there hadn't been a book published long ago detailing the waterfalls in this region is beyond us, considering New Zealand is one of the world's hot beds for large waterfalls. So no previous help existing, Cheng had to start from scratch and he ended up doing a bang up job.
First off, I'm going to start with the negative. This book is a little shy of 300 pages in length, about 250 pages of that is specifically dedicated to discussing the waterfalls. In 250 pages, the author only discusses about 75 waterfalls, and not all of them in detail. The World Waterfall Database currently has over 500 waterfalls inventoried in New Zealand and though a substantial portion of those are deep in the wilderness, I was quite disappointed to see such a limited number discussed in this book. Secondly, the size of the font in the book is rather large. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially to those who have a hard time reading small text, but it almost makes it look like it was intended to make the book thicker by spacing it out more.
That out of the way, this book just plain rocks. For the limited selection of waterfalls discussed, the author did a great job of detailing how big or little they are, how to get there, what sort of restrictions might be presented and where one can expect the best vistas. The maps provided aren't super detailed, but work well enough to aid travelers to where they need to go. There are TONS of pictures - at least one per waterfall throughout the book - and most of them are pretty good pictures at that.
Though technically this book was self-produced under Cheng's own Story Nature Press, it maintains the quality and appearance one would expect for a book produced under a traditional publishing house. The pages are nice and hearty and will withstand use in the field, the cover is plenty thick to take a further beating and its very professionally designed and laid out. Color-coded chapters and tabs make finding particular entries a little easier. Some of the pictures in the book are a bit artifact-ridden, but it only stands out in a handful and the print quality is otherwise almost flawless.
Bottom line is this is simply one of the best waterfall books produced to date. We would highly recommend picking this one up to anyone making the trip to New Zealand, but also suggest any fans of waterfalls, no matter how serious you are and no matter where you live, take a good long look at it and consider adding it to your shelf.