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Moir’s Guide South, 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 parts. The Southern Section, edited by Gerard Hall-Jones, was the first one to be published (1959) and was the bulkier of the two volumes with 154 pages. Several valleys in western and southern Fiordland were described in this guidebook for the first time – but we should not forget that the exploration of this remote corner of the country was not concluded until the 1970s. 

The 4th edition (1969) was also edited by Gerard Hall-Jones. It maintained the same look and structure as its predecessor, with the addition of route descriptions for those valleys that were recently explored (Dark and Light Rivers, Edith and George Rivers, and the areas around Caswell Sound and the Cozette Burn). The Queenstown – Shotover region was moved to Moir’s Guide Northern Section. 

Gerard Hall-Jones was again the editor of the 5th edition (1979). For the first time, Moir’s Guide had a colour photograph on the cover. The internal layout was similar to the one of the two previous volumes, except that this one was thinner (140 pages) since the Routburn and Greenstone – Caples areas were moved to the Northern Section. The area covered by the guidebook now largely matched the boundaries of Fiordland National Park. 

On Gerard Hall-Jones’ retirement in 1992, after an impressive editorial term of 35 years, the contents and presentation of the guidebook were reviewed. The 6th edition (1995), edited by Robin McNeill, increased its size to 259 pages, with the addition of areas for which no current guidebook existed, namely the Snowdon, Mavora, Eyre and Takitimu forests. Several sections were rearranged and retitled, many errors were corrected, and an extensive list of contributors was added. 

7th edition

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

The 7th edition of Moir’s Guide South was published in 2007. Edited by Robin McNeill again, this volume (240 pages) is the ultimate reference for trampers wanting to explore that rugged and remote corner of country that is Fiordland, or the often neglected ‘lesser’ hills of Southland. On the outside, it sports a new look to fit within the series of the New Zealand Alpine Club’s publications. A few contents have remained unmodified since the times of Gerard Hall-Jones, and some route descriptions may seem scant or hard to follow without grid references. This is Fiordland – a wild piece of country with valleys that are difficult to get into and are very seldom visited, and where up-to-date route descriptions can be hard to find. A guidebook to remote Fiordland will merely tell you where others have walked, and is no substitute to good route finding skills, or that boundless imagination that will lead you to walk where no-one has been before. One thing I really like of Moir’s Guide South is the extensive list of contributors – if a route was explored by Rhys Buckingham, I will know to treat it with due respect. 


McNeill, R. (Editor) 2007. Moir’s Guide South, 7th Edition – The Great Southern Lakes and Fiords. South from the Hollyford. Published by Great Southern Lakes Press, in association with the New Zealand Alpine Club. 240 pages. 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Robin McNeill permalink
    5 August 2010 2:12 pm


    I’m not sure what to make of this… I’m the only one to comment so far!

    And, what do you mean, the route descriptions haven’t changed much since I took over from Gerry?! Take it from me… they have changed a lot in most places- check the contributions pages. Ok, in some places they have changed only very subtly- such as changing “True-left” to “True-right” (which makes quite a bit of a difference around L Bernard in particular), but that is not the norm.

    BTW, I like your page here- you have made a nice job. Regards, Robin

    • 5 August 2010 6:59 pm

      My apologies Robin, I had looked at a few routes that had no grid refs and found the descriptions to be identical to the ones in the fifth edition, I obviously made a capital mistake in drawing my conclusions based on a random sample of insufficient size. I have altered the wording after reading your comment.

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