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Book Review: The Tasman – Biography of an Ocean

by Fiona Harper

The Tasman - Biography of an Ocean

Multi award winning author, photographer and ocean adventurer, Neville Peat is a man with a passion. A couple of passions, actually, particularly when it comes to oceans and remote coastlines, along with the wildlife that inhabit them. It’s clear that Peat has boundless energy and enthusiasm on his chosen subject, in this case, the Tasman Sea. Known as The Ditch by trans Tasman sailors, who make the crossing mostly in around 8 to 10 days, the Tasman is an undeniable link connecting New Zealanders and Australians. The Tasman – Biography of an Ocean cements our undeniable relationship.

A New Zealander with more than 30 published books to his name, Peat’s latest work is a monumental biographical account of the Tasman Sea. Divided into three sections: Nature, People and Coast and Communities, Peat’s depth of research shows in this immensely detailed account. If you ever had a question relating to the vast span of water that separates Australia and New Zealand, there’s a good chance you’ll find the answer in The Tasman. Illustrated with a plethora of charts, diagrams and gorgeous images of the sea, both temperate and turbulent, it’s the kind of book that draws you back for more. It will be of interest to recreational and commercial boaters, fishermen, surfers, travellers, wildlife spotters – anyone really with a curiosity beyond the shoreline bordering the Tasman Sea.


According to Peat, the Tasman is a cocktail of ocean currents, eddies, upwelling’s and water masses ranging from the subtropical to the subantarctic. A weather generator above the surface, lurking in the depths are creatures yet to be identified. He shares the Tasman’s story in an easy to read format, delving into the earthly origins, life forms, shipping and shipwrecks, yachting and yarns from coastal dwellers.

Just as the sea it seeks to embrace is deeply complex yet the catalyst for leisure and relaxation, so too is The Tasman – Biography of an Ocean. The enticing odour of salt-crusted air oozes from its pages.

The Tasman – Biography of an Ocean is available directly from the author or in good bookstores.

Verdict: Highly recommended

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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land and waters on which we live, work and travel. As people who seek meaning and knowledge through storytelling, we recognise that the First Peoples of this land have been doing so for over 60,000 years. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.