My Books

MERINO COUNTRY: Stories from the home of New Zealand's hardiest sheep
Penguin Random House Publishers 2016

From the towering peaks of the Inland Kaikoura Range in the north to the glacial waters of Lake Wakatipu in the south, this is a richly illustrated celebration of New Zealand's most spectacular high country. It is also the story of our most revered sheep breed, and the families whose livelihoods depend on it thriving in this extreme yet mesmerising landscape.



OUR MOUNTAINS: Journeys to New Zealand's high places
New Holland Publishers 2013

Three-quarters of New Zealand lies more than 200 metres above sea level, making us one of the more mountainous countries in the world, so it’s no surprise that many of us have a great affinity for the rugged backdrop against which we live.
Two men with a particular respect for our high places, writer Paul Hersey and photographer Mark Watson, both experienced climbers, embarked on a year-long journey across the length of the country to visit, climb and tell the stories surrounding 15 of its most significant summits.
The narrative that emerges has an overarching environmental theme, as Hersey questions the value New Zealanders place on our ecological heritage and discusses local issues with the people living on and near the mountains. In addition to accounts of tramping and climbing experiences, there are references to local history, Maoritanga, geology, farming and conservation, alongside entertaining and engaging personal comment.
Stunning photographs captured by Watson show some of our best known peaks in a fresh way, completing a moving evocation of the New Zealand landscape and its mountain-related culture.


'Sharp, evocative and liberally dotted with personal anecdotes throughout, the mini-essays are very well written'
- Dione Joseph, NZ Book Lovers

'Hersey's vast experience is plain to see and he includes touching and interesting personal details from each climb'
- Alden Williams, Nelson Mail

'This is a fine production and a tome to savour'
- Shaun Barnett, Federated Mountain Club bulletin


SEARCHING FOR GROUNDSWELL: A New Zealand surfer's road trip
New Holland Publishers, 2010

Simply put, New Zealand is a great place to be a surfer. 'In Searching For Groundswell', Paul Hersey takes the ultimate surfing road trip, looking to connect with the best beach breaks, points and reefs along the 15,000km coastline that surrounds New Zealand. Part meditation, part documentary, this books celebrates surfing and explores the special relationship surfers have with the sea.


'Hersey's writing is smooth and relaxed, unafraid to be open about his own thoughts.'
- Vicki Price, Taranaki Daily News

'Searching for Groundswell offers perspective on where New Zealand surf culture is heading.'
- Kester Brown, Dominion Post

'Thank you. Your book has stirred a desire to get back in the water and reconnect with some of that lifestyle lost since moving to Wellington.'
- Steve Caie, personal communication


HIGH MISADVENTURE: New Zealand mountaineering tragedies and survival stories
New Holland Publishers, 2009

Climbing is one of New Zealand's most rewarding yet most testing outdoor activities: since 1980 alone, there have been more than 200 fatalities on our mountains, and too many serious injuries to count. In 'High Misadventure', climber and journalist Paul Hersey gives accounts of 10 incidents, collectively illustrating the key factors that can turn a climb into a disaster.
Meticulously researched, and written with an insider's eye for factual detail, this is a gritty and harrowing book that reveals how vulnerable we can be in this most extreme of natural environments.


'Like Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, this is climbing writing at its best.'
- Rosmarie Smith, The Southland Times

'The stories are so compelling - epic, hair-raising, often heartbreaking, occasionally inspirational.'
- Geoff Collett, Nelson Mail

'I recommend this book as a great read.'
- Owen Brown, Hawkes Bay Weekend

'It's a tribute to Hersey that he has succeeded in addressing such a difficult topic with sensitivity and empathy.'
- Louise Thornley, FMC bulletin



WHERE THE MOUNTAINS THROW THEIR DICE: An insight into the Kiwi climbing psyche
New Holland Publishers, 2008

Climbing divides public opinion. To non- climbers, influenced by news reports of fatalities and costly mountain rescues, it may seem a selfish and crazy game in which victims have only themselves to blame. To Dunedin writer and alpine climber Paul Hersey it's nothing less than a reason for living; even if - or perhaps even because - at the most life-affirming moments he may be just one step from 'a tumble into the abyss'. In this fascinating book, Paul chats with some of New Zealand's most experienced climbers to find out why they are drawn to the mountains and why, even after losing close friends, they keep returning to a world of Zen-like focus, intensity, discipline, random danger and monumental beauty. And ultimately he comes closer to understanding what drives his own passion for this controversial pursuit.
Gripping, funny, poignant, and above all optimistic, 'Where The Mountains Throw Their Dice' is an inspiration to all of us to grab life with both hands and make every sublime moment count.


'So why climb? Hersey has made one of the best attempts in modern mountaineering literature to answer the question.'
- John Henzell, Christchurch Press

'Hersey is thoughtful and, at times, intense. He writes skillfully and...gives those with an interest in the New Zealand climbing psyche plenty to contemplate.'
- Phil Somerville, Otago Daily Times

'Hersey's is a brave, personal, searching book that deserves wide readership.'
- Shaun Barnett, Federated Mountain Club bulletin