Michael Batson

Travel Writer





East Coast, New Zealand - In Your Own Time - 10 February 2021

Go east they say, it’s the wild side of New Zealand. The East Cape (the Eastland) of New Zealand’s North Island stretches 344kms by road along route 35 from the small town of Ōpōtiki to Gisborne – there’s a shorter route through the Waioeka Gorge on route 2 but you miss all the fun – though the Waioeka has its own attractions. I have driven from Gisborne around the East Cape and back again “doing the loop” and I once cycled it. The bike trip took a week with a rest day. It’s beautiful and remote; Gisborne is the country’s most geographically isolated city. There are forests, rich farmland, great beaches where the water is three shades of turquoise, isolated communities where you wonder what people do all day and they probably wonder why you’re in such a hurry. East Cape is the first landfall in the world to see the light of the new day, every day, though this claim is open to debate. It’s one of the regions where the Māori population has its highest ratio. Some people go there to get away from it all; some have never left. People will tell you on the cape the locals have their own way of doing things. This roughly equates to the view British once had of Spain of “mañana” or what is referred to in places as “island time” or anywhere else time isn’t regarded as being as important as other things, like living. The drive from Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city takes you across the Bay of Plenty, a land among volcanoes. In the west is Tauranga, affluent

Bars I Have Known - 7 January 2021

Bars can be a great way to meet people, find work, make contacts and get the low down on the local scene where ever you are. They can be melting pots and social intersections. You can meet all kinds of people in all kinds of bars. I have come across: the well-travelled, the educated, the literate, the well-heeled and those not, the working and

'Our' Man in Tokyo, Richard Sorge - 8 December 2020

This Travelogue piece follows on from Richard Sorge; ‘The Spy from Baku’ and ‘The Spy in Shanghai’. Richard Sorge was a master of bluff and a manipulator extraordinaire as well as being a great actor, important for a spy. Being a spy also made him a born liar, the two sharing similar traits, and as with all spy stories the lines between

The Spy in Shanghai - 18 November 2020

This piece follows on from Richard Sorge, Part One, ‘The Spy from Baku’. Richard Sorge was arguably the greatest spy of the 20th century. Ian Fleming, a spy who become a writer, called him the “most formidable spy in history”. John le Carré, a spy who wrote books and later a bestselling author of espionage once called Fleming’s chief

Richard Sorge - The Spy from Baku - 7 October 2020

Richard Sorge had one of the greatest impacts on the outcome of World War Two of any individual, yet most people have never heard of him. He was not a politician or a diplomat, he didn’t command troops, fly planes, captain battleships or even fire a gun, and he never fought in any of the battles. What he had was access to key inside information

Milford Sound - 2 September 2020

Milford Sound lies in Southwest New Zealand in the Fiordland National Park, the largest and fourth oldest of the country’s 13 national parks, the fifth largest park of its kind in the world  and part of the Te Wāhipounamu (Greenstone) World Heritage Site. It has been judged the world's top travel destination in an international survey, and

Flying High with the Bolivian Air Force - 6 May 2020

Travelling in Bolivia is a challenge of world-renown, one of those destinations your mother warned you about. The roads are rough, few are paved. The terrain is intimidating with high mountains and deep gorges best described as lethal. Transport infrastructure is rudimentary or was when I went in 1991, especially air travel. Safety leaves much