Review of Kiwis Might Fly by Polly Evans

Sub-title: Around New Zealand on two big wheels
Year published: 2004
Genre: Non-fiction, travelogue
Setting & time: New Zealand, 2003 (?)

This is Evans’ second published travelogue, and a sort of sequel to It’s Not About the Tapas. This time around Evans stepped up the pace and got herself a motorcycle permit before embarking on a journey around New Zealand in search of the stereotypical Kiwi male: the hard-living, hard-drinking, ingenious bloke of pioneer days. This is, of course, a gimmick (such as most travel writers use in order to justify their journey) and it works well, even if it seems a bit affected. It lends humour to the narrative, as does her initial struggle to master the powerful motorcycle and the relationship she develops with the bike in the course of the journey. Then there is the destination. New Zealand comes across as the kind of place an Icelander would feel right at home, with its small-town culture, individualism and friendliness, and the varied landscapes and even more variable weather.

Evan has, in this book, managed to find the right balance between personal and historical narrative. There are no overly long historical passages and when she has chosen to include some history, the short and well-chosen passages are relevant to her mission and the places she visits. Most of all, she manages to make New Zealand interesting, in a way that she fails to do for Argentina in On a Hoof and a Prayer.

Rating: An interesting and well-written travelogue. 4 stars.


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