Q&A: Shaun Barnett

Shaun Barnett, who’s been living on Wellington’s “wonderful” South Coast for more than two decades, has tramped the length and breadth of Aotearoa.

“I’ve tramped in most parts of New Zealand, including a piecemeal traverse along the length of the Kā Tiritiri o te Moana / Southern Alps. But probably my most treasured trips are those done with my family,” he says.

Shaun loves the outdoors, writing books, and reading books. After a few years working for the Department of Conservation, he turned to writing and photography, and co-wrote the Montana-Award winning Classic Tramping in New Zealand (with Rob Brown).

Now, together with Geoff Spearpoint and Rob Brown, Shaun has just released A Bunk for the Night: A Guide to New Zealand’s Best Backcountry Huts. The tramping royalty trio have scoured the length and breadth of Aotearoa, and found 201 of the finest huts in the land. The book is fully illustrated, with location maps and great stories about these iconic huts.

We caught up with Shaun somewhere between the mountains and the coast.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a teenager, I desperately wanted to be a national park ranger.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My school guidance counsellor telling me that I needed to spend some time in the mountains if I wanted to be a ranger.

You just won lotto, what will you spend it on?
How much we talking here? A $20 lucky ticket or the big one? If the latter, I’d invest enough to be able to just write books for the rest of my career, give some money to my kids, and probably start some sort of conservation trust. Plus have a spend-up at Unity Books and Bivouac Outdoor.

What are the best and worst gifts you’ve ever received?
The best gift was my childhood, and the worst was a bad tie.

What’s the best local purchase you’ve made this year?
A book, On Time and Water, by Iceland author Andri Snaer Magnason from Unity Books, my favourite bookstore.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to try?
Making a decent woodcut print.

What’s your biggest regret?
Not asking my grandparents more about their lives.


A Bunk for the Night by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown and Geoff Spearpoint, published by Potton & Burton, RRP: $49.99.

This competition is now closed, congratulations to the winners!

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