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Rebecca Hayter, North & South contributing writer and finalist in AA Directions Best International Travel Feature (won by Joanna Wane); Editor Virginia Larson; Senior writer Mike White who won Travel Writer of the Year award for the third time. 

Bauer Media’s North & South sweeps up travel writing awards

Bauer Media’s North & South again proves its travel writing talents at Travcom Awards 

North & South has cemented its position as the home of New Zealand’s best travel writing after a host of wins at the 2019 Philippine Airlines-Travcom Travel Writing Awards, with senior writer Mike White taking home the prestigious Travel Writer of the Year award for the third time. 

The annual awards are organised by Travcom (New Zealand Travel Communicators) to celebrate excellence in travel writing, photography and digital media and this year’s competition attracted a record 400-plus entries. White, who claimed the country’s supreme award for travel journalism in 2006 and 2014, was awarded the major prize for his feature ‘Season’s Greetings’, which saw him embrace the wild, wonderful and just plain wacky at the Queenstown Winter Festival.

"I'm tremendously excited to be heading to the Philippines, a destination so many people I know have loved visiting,” says White. “Experiencing and writing about a new country is always fabulous. But I get just as much joy writing about New Zealand and wonderful off-the-beaten-track places which offer incredible scenery and absolutely brilliant locals."

Judge Helen Hayes said White’s winning story was “entertaining from beginning to end and made me look at Queenstown, a place I have been to many times, through different eyes. It was cleverly constructed, brilliantly written and made me smile.”

North & South’s deputy editor Joanna Wane, who was named Travel Writer of the Year in 2017, took two category awards this year: the Heritage Hotels Best New Zealand Travel Feature for ‘What a Swell Party This Is’, a lyrical, gliding, sharply observant take on Napier’s Art Deco Festival, and the AA Directions Best International Travel Feature for ‘Diary of a Divided Land’. 

Judge Robert Upe said of Wane’s winning New Zealand story: “The top 10 entries in this category were very close, but the introductory paragraphs in this story are quite brilliant, with the writer knocking on a stranger's door to get a better perspective of Napier. It's a level of intrepid reporting rarely seen in travel features and 'humanises' the story. It is well paced throughout, with beautiful descriptive writing punctuating the factual information. The writing has an air of authority about it. This story has made me want to go to a destination I had never previously considered.”

‘Diary of a Divided Land’ was written about Wane’s trip to Israel – her prize for winning the 2017 Best Travel Writer Award. That story led to an invite to be part of a New Zealand Journalist and Academic Study Group to Israel, which she is currently on. North & South editor Virginia Larson collected the awards on Wane’s behalf and said her return trip to Israel shows how much impact travel writing – and these awards – can have.  

Wane was also a runner-up in the TreadRight Foundation Responsible Tourism category for her story ‘A Moment in Time’, which chronicled her visit to Great Barrier Island, and North & South contributing writer Rebecca Hayter was a finalist in Best International story for her piece ‘On a Small Boat to Greenland’. 

Highlighting North & South’s close connection to the regions, its writers dominated the Best New Zealand Feature category, with Mike White, art director/columnist Jenny Nicholls and Virginia Larson (x 2) all named as finalists. 

“Current affairs may be North & South’s core DNA, but we love writing for the 6-8 pages we devote to travel each month,” says Larson. “And we take those pages seriously because great travel writing is hard. I’m lucky to have some of the country’s best travel writers on staff – Mike White, Joanna Wane and Jenny Nicholls all have that rare gift of a distinctive voice. And even when dispatched to a familiar destination in New Zealand, they go with eyes and ears wide open. Their stories always deliver lively, lyrical writing and fresh insights. We’re also inspired by our readers, who are enthusiastic travellers, both at home and abroad. We’ve done the research, and we’ve run into North & South subscribers on the Routeburn Track, Niue, even on a navy ship heading to the Kermadecs…!”