Getting to Know Bruce Ansley

November 18th 2020

We reckon Travel Writer, Bruce Ansley, has the dream job! We caught up with Bruce for the release of his ninth book, Down South -  his epic homage to Aotearoa's beautiful Te Waipounamu. This great book takes a journey from Curio Bay to Golden Bay to meet the people and places that hold the clues to the South’s famous character. That Subaru on the cover is Bruce’s trusted vehicle – he’s covered around 250,000 kms in this car over the years, including his adventure Down South. 

What is your day job?


What is your connection to Vic Books?


What are you working on at the moment?

I'm enjoying not working.

What is your latest publication?

Down South: In search of the great Southern Land (HarperCollins).

Down South feels very timely - published when overseas travel isn't a possibility. How do you think the pandemic has affected New Zealander's outlook on travelling in their own country?

They're discovering the Cobb and Curio Bay and Cowboy Paradise, and wondering whether Tuscany really was worth the trouble.

What is your relationship with Te Waipounamu? What is your favourite place that you've visited?

I'm a South Islander, even if I live in the north now. I lived down south for most of my life, and I go there as often as I can without totally abandoning my North Island family. I love the peace and loneliness of Banks Peninsula , the joy of Tasman Bay, the russet solitude of the Awarua. My favourite place? Windwhistle, below the Big Ben Range in the mountains. It's not a place at all, really, I just love the name.

Down South is an epic road trip reflecting on the famous Southern character. Can you describe that character in three words?

Hard to find.

When travel opens up again, what places or countries are on your bucket list?

I've spent a lot of time in other countries, enough to say I prefer this one. I think it is endlessly exciting. My books have taken me from the forbidden Hauturu-o-toi, or Little Barrier Island, to Taukihepa, Big South Cape Island. I was once a crayfisherman in Preservation Inlet, Fiordland, and I've been plotting how to go back there. Maybe I'll get lucky.

Some quick fire book recommendations please!

Peter Simpson's second volume on Colin McCahon: Is This The Promised Land?, Becky Manawatu's Aue.

What are you reading at the moment?

Gordon McLauchlan's Stop the Clock.

What do you like about it?

It was the last book written by a lovely, generous man. Shortly before he died last January he wrote a long letter to his friends, ending with Shakespeare's 'Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney-sweepers, turn to dust.' He was a golden lad, all right.

Which literary character do you most identify with? Why?

Water Rat in Wind in the Willows. Because there is nothing, absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Hardback or paperback?


Favourite coffee?

Shaky Isles.