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Beach book born of two years’ life on the road

Auckland was doing his head in, he was “stressing out” what to do with his life and at two, one morning — parked up outside a friend’s place in Raglan — Tim Rainger got a brainwave.

He’d get in his “crappy old campervan”, drive to every beach in the North Island, take photographs, make notes and write a book.

That was two years ago. And Tim, who once lived here for 10 years but is now “based nowhere”, can take a breather and be proud of ‘The New Zealand Good Beach Guide,’ his recently published work of the North Island.

It’s packed with nearly 550 colour pictures, features 94 maps and charts plus useful wind and swell diagrams. “It will answer most of your questions and show you places that you may not have even known existed,” says its publicity blurb.

Tim, 49 and the father of a 17-year-old, reckons he travelled round that summer of 2009-10 with a “parent’s perspective,” after having read somewhere that going to the beach was a favourite pastime for 60 percent of Kiwis.

But there was no guide to the New Zealand coast, Tim told the Chronicle. He had money in the bank from selling up in Auckland, and he could camp in his van. So started Tim’s journey from one beach to another —and by the winter of 2010 he was ready to write up his notes and work on the design of the book which, he says, “celebrates the outrageous diversity we have on our back doorstep.”

Tim was no stranger to the world of publishing, or to that of travelling and producing travel guides. Born and raised on the New Zealand coast, he began his working life as a commercial and advertising photographer in Auckland before moving to Europe where he honed his skills with a freelance writing course in London, then started a publishing company producing surf and snowboard guides in the ’90s.

But this beach guide is his first ever Kiwi book. And it was born from that brainwave on his return to Raglan to “recharge his batteries”, when he reckons he fell in love with the place all over again.

While Tim has written, photographed, art directed and published the beach guide himself through his company Clean Media, he’s also had input from several locals including graphic designer Edith Woischin, layout assistant Kelly Clarkson and proof-reader Viv Hill “who always made me feel like this was a project worth persevering with.”

Then there was Brett Beamsley from MetOcean in Raglan, responsible for all the maps plus wind and swell rose diagrams. His technical assistance and dry humour kept Tim going, he says, “in the face of adversity.”

Manu Bay’s Gavin Melgren and Patti Mitchley, who made Tim “so welcome in their home over such a long period,” also get a mention in the book’s intro and acknowledgements.

Tim admits he’s invested a huge amount of emotional energy into the work — but he’s not finished yet. While he’s currently driving around, retracing his steps to market and sell the book, there’s no stopping him on his quest to do it all over again in the South Island.

All the while he continues to surf, fish, swim and sail on a daily basis.

Edith Symes

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