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Outdoor & Adventure Writing Workshop

Where:  Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park

Based at Unwin Lodge

When:   Queen’s Birthday Weekend 3-6 June 2016

Download Info Pack Register Now


Are you keen to improve your writing skills, define where you want to head with your writing, or work towards getting your writing published? Join author and journalist Paul Hersey for three days of outdoor and adventure writing tuition at Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

As part of the NZAC Arts Series based at Unwin Lodge, this workshop is focussed towards writing about the environment – how you see it, feel it and interact with it – and using outdoor experiences as a framework for other narratives.


The Workshop

After covering what constitutes ‘good writing’, Paul will encourage course participants to search for their own writing style, or ‘voice’, offering techniques and avenues for expressing and developing this voice. By the end of the workshop, each participant should be able to identify suitable writing topics, process and self-critique their writing, and explore possible outlets for their work.

Writers can be novice or experienced, but should come with an open mind and lots of questions. Paul is happy to cover different writing genres (e.g. creative, short-story, book, specialist journalism) depending on the needs of course participants.

Participants should bring new best friends – Thesaurus, dictionary, laptop, pens and a notebook – along with a piece of previous writing to analyze and develop, a favourite outdoors book (be prepared to discuss why), sturdy shoes or boots and suitable clothing for outdoor inspiration walks.

The workshop will incorporate group sessions, one-on-one interaction with the tutor, and solo creative time.

The Tutor

Paul Hersey has had four non-fiction books published (all with outdoor themes), and a fifth is due for release later this year. He is also nearing completion of a fiction novel. Paul’s writing and photography have been published in Alpinist, Surfer’s Journal, New Zealand Geographic, North and South, White Horses, Adventure, Wilderness and The Climber magazines.

The Cost

$490 per person, which includes accommodation (bring your own food to cook, or travel to nearby restaurants). A maximum of eight participants will be accepted, and you must be an NZAC member (you can join at the time of applying for the course). Any refunds are at the discretion of the NZAC National Office and will depend on whether a replacement can be found.

The Time

1pm, Friday June 3 – 12pm, Monday June 6.

The Syllabus

Other topics may be added, depending on participant needs.

  1. What constitutes ‘good’ writing and the importance of recognising it. How to be an active reader and why it is such an important tool.
  2. Why write? What are your reasons and aspirations? Understanding this leads to a better direction for ‘what to write’ and ‘how to write it’.
  3. Opening your eyes to the world: How to start the writing process, and where does the inspiration – the fickle mistress/master that it can be – come from?
  4. Without an engine, the car goes nowhere: Exploring the rather dry, but essential, ‘mechanics’ of writing, including the various styles and structure, scene setting, narrative viewpoint, characterisation, pacing, and dialogue (specifics depend on participant requirements)
  5. Writer’s block: Is there a pill to take? Different approaches to tackle it.
  6. Critique, critique, critique – or learning to love, and hate, your own work. How do you do this objectively? How and when should you go in search of other opinions?
  7. The writer’s ‘voice’: What makes your work unique, and how do you develop this aspect to a higher standard?
  8. The big bad world: What to do with the end result, or the reality of publishing and how to go about it.

Who is this workshop for?

The NZAC Outdoor & Adventure Writing Workshop is aimed at beginner – intermediate level writers who want to further their skills in a particular field or genre related to the outdoors.

You’ll learn how to recognise your own writing style, or ‘voice’, and techniques for developing this voice. By the end of the course, each participant should be able to identify suitable writing topics, process and self-critique their writing, and explore possible outlets for publication.

The workshop is limited to a small number of participants, allowing time for personal interaction with the tutor. Each day will involve a mixture of group sessions, one-on-one feedback with Paul, outdoor activity (weather dependent) and solo creative time.

As each person will be at a different stage with their writing, and will have different expectations about what they hope to achieve at a workshop like this, Paul will operate a flexible, tailored plan to help cater for everyone.


Workshop participants should already have a piece of previous writing that they would like to develop further during the three days, as well as ideas for future projects that can also be explored. Ideally, the existing piece (which doesn’t have to be complete) will be emailed to Paul before the workshop, so he can familiarise himself with the work.
After registering, each participant will be contacted by Paul for information about what writing genre they are interested in, and what they hope to achieve from the weekend. This will greatly help in tailoring the workshop to meet everyone’s specific needs.
Participants will need to reach Unwin Lodge for the beginning of the workshop at 1pm on June 3. There may be opportunity to coordinate transport from Christchurch to Aoraki Mount Cook. The course will finish around lunchtime on June 6.
Participants should bring a laptop, notebook, Thesaurus, a hard copy of a piece of their own work to develop, a pen drive so work can be transferred between computers, a favourite outdoors book or piece of outdoors writing, outdoor clothing, footwear and equipment suitable for inspiration seeking walks/hikes.

Download Info Pack Register Now

Questions can be directed to Sefton Priestley, NZAC Programme Manager: [email protected]


Posted: 12/04/16

Posted By: Sefton Priestley