Walking with Rocks, Dreaming with Rivers: My Year in the Waikato by Richard von Sturmer


In 2020 Richard von Sturmer spent twelve months exploring the Waikato region, this book is the record of his discoveries, reveries and experiences. It is a travel journal to some of the lesser visited parts of the Waikato, including the Hinuera Natural Stone quarry, the remnants of the Tokanui Pyschiatric Hospital, the New Zealand Heritage site of the Rotowaro Carbonisation Works, the location of the historic Beeville community, Taupiri cemetery, the peat lakes, and much else.

Von Sturmer is guided to sacred locations by Ngāti Apakura and Ngāti Maniapoto descendent Dr Tom Roa, and by master carver Wiremu Puke, and through all his travels he finds moments of unexpected enchantment: a tree root mistaken for a taniwha, a horse disguised as a zebra. Illustrated by his finely observed photographs Walking with Rocks, Dreaming with Rivers is full of gateways into a hidden Waikato.

This beautiful object, this dream set down on paper, is travel writing regained, and put to rights. The first person invested in it is the reader. You are about to go on a journey. You are in good hands: great travel writing picks you up and swings you along like luggage. — Steve Braunias

An extraordinary meditation on settings across the Waikato – museums where he’s the only visitor, lifestyle blocks where ‘you can feel history / evaporating,’ lakes where the only other images reflected are clouds. — Tracey Slaughter