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Moir’s Guide North, 7th Edition

13 April 2010


New Zealand’s tramping bible was first published in 1925 as a “guide book to the tourist routes of the Great Southern Lakes and Fiords of Western Otago, New Zealand”. George M. Moir was the author. The slim volume (85 pages) included Te Anau, Wakatipu, Manapouri, Wanaka, Hawea, Monowai, Hauroko and the Western Fiords.  

In 1948, the editors of the second edition (W.S. Gilkison and A.H. Hamilton) wrote that “within a few years of publication, the first edition of this Guide Book met with approval and practical use to an extent which was quite undreamed of”. In recognition of the 1st edition’s author, the volume was now officially named “Moir’s Guide Book”, with the subtitle “Tramping Tracks and Routes of the Great Southern Lakes and Fiords of Western Otago and Southland”. The new volume, “revised and enlarged”, contained 103 pages and extended as far north as the Landsborough and Dobson Valleys. 3000 copies were sold in less than two years, and before long a reprint was required (1950).  

Moir's Guide, Editions 1 to 6

The third edition of Moir’s Guide was for the first time split into two volumes. The Northern Section, edited by P.M. Chandelier and published in 1961, covered the area from the head of Lake Wakatipu to the Landsborough and Dobson Rivers. A major developement in recent years had been the completion of the Haast Pass Highway, which made a large area of tramping country more accessible.  

The 4th edition, edited by P.M. Chandler and R.J. Keen in 1968, brought further revisions after the opening of the Queenstown to Glenorchy road in 1962. As noted by the editors, much of the backcountry had been made more accessible thanks to the construction of new huts and bridges by the NZ Forest Service. A large part of the area covered by the guidebook was now included in Mt Aspiring National Park.  

The 4th edition had sold out by 1973, and in 1977 a 5th edition was published, edited by L.D. Kennedy. For the first time, Moir’s Guide had a colour photograph on the cover. A reprint with limited revision followed in 1984.  

Trampers had to wait until 1998 for a 6th edition. That’s a long time, but the improvements made by the new editor, Geoff Spearpoint, were all worth it. The guidebook suddenly more than doubled its size from 103 to 240 pages, and was almost entirely rewritten. Grid references were added for the new NZMS260 map series, more details were given for many old routes no longer maintained by the Department of Conservation, and the contents were rearranged to follow a consistent approach topographically from south to north, based on watersheds.  

7th edition

Moir's Guide North, 7th Edition, and area coverage

The 6th edition of Moir’s Guide North was soon sold out, and a new volume was published in 2005. Edited by Geoff Spearpoint again, this guidebook (260 pages) is the ultimate reference for trampers wanting to explore the country between the head of Lake Wakatipu and the Karangarua River. On the outside, it sports a new look to fit within the series of the New Zealand Alpine Club’s publications. But inside it maintains the impressive quality shown by the previous edition, with precise and detailed route descriptions accompanied by high quality photographs, and many NZMS260 grid references that make it easy to follow the routes on topomaps. The editor is renowned for his accuracy, and this guidebook really is hard to beat. The only one thing I miss is a list of contributors for each individual route, for some of the sources may be less reliable, and a few blunders are apparent in routes that the editor has not had a chance to walk himself.


Spearpoint, G. (Editor) 2005. Moir’s Guide North, 7th Edition – The Otago Southern Alps. A tramping and transalpine guide from the Hollyford to Lake Ohau. Published by the New Zealand Alpine Club. 260 pages.

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