A Maverick Traveller

Books and Blog by Mary Jane Walker

A Maverick New Zealand Way

A Maverick Traveller is an introduction to a series of unconventional travel books by the New Zealand author Mary Jane Walker. The story begins with an account of an epic voyage on a Chinese junk, followed by Mary Jane’s early life in New Zealand and her later adventures (and misadventures) worldwide.

Places Mary Jane visited include:

Bali, Australia, Diego Garcia, Apartheid-era South Africa and Gabon on her epic junk voyage. Later, she travelled to a wide range of destinations (in 71 countries so far) that includes London, Paris, Venice, Transylvania and Peru; Everest Base Camp in Nepal and the Dal in Srinagar; Greenland and Iceland; Scotland, Ireland, Russia and Spain; the Great Wall of China, and the tiny uninhabited island of Whenua Hou where the rare fllightless kākāpō live by night.

A Maverick New Zealand Way is the second in a series of books of unconventional travel stories by Mary Jane Walker. With nearly 600 photos and maps, A Maverick New Zealand Way relates Mary Jane’s adventures in the striking back country of her native New Zealand, and in its cities.

Places Mary Jane has explored in her own country include:

Milford Sound, the Routeburn Track, the St James Walkway, Queenstown and Christchurch, Dunedin, Mount Cook and Rotorua. She walks the Hillary Trail west of Auckland City and meets yellow-eyed penguins, flightless kiwi and kākāpō, and discusses Māori culture. Mary Jane describes New Zealand’s Great Walks and some of the iconic landscapes depicted in the films of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.

A Maverick Cuban Way

A Maverick New Zealand Way

A Maverick Cuban Way is the third in a series of unconventional travel books by New Zealand author Mary Jane Walker. With over 240 photos and maps, A Maverick Cuban Way relates Mary Jane’s adventures on an island in transition, just after the death of Fidel Castro.

Places Mary Jane visited include:

Playa Girón, where the main invasion force of the ill-fated Bay of Bigs adventure came ashore; Santiago de Cuba, the rebellious city where the Spanish surrendered in 1898 and where the 26th of July revolutionary movement was born in the 1950s. She slept in Fidel’s old room – number 6 – at a hotel near Pico Turquino and visited his hideout further up the mountain. Along the way, Mary Jane found time to visit other historic centres such as the picturesque old town of Trinidad de Cuba; Cienfuegos, on the south coast; the inland city of Camagüey; verdant, Haitian-influenced Baracoa; the resort of Varadero; and Bayamo, after which the Cuban national anthem of La Bayamesa is named.

A Maverick Pilgrim Way is the fourth in a series of unconventional travel books by New Zealand author Mary Jane Walker. With 547 images, A Maverick Pilgrim Way describes Mary Jane’s adventures on the pilgrim trails of Europe and the Mediterranean and in the surrounding cultural landscapes.

Places and pathways Mary Jane explored include:

The religious caminos or trails that converge on Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral city in Galicia, the region of Spain that lies just north of Portugal. Like the rays of a scallop shell, the caminos fan out across Europe, and are crossed by the Via Francigena which runs from Canterbury to Rome. But Mary Jane does not stick exclusively to these trails nor even Europe, as she describes visits to Istanbul and Cappadocia, to Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia and to Dresden and Geneva, climbs Mont Blanc, and explores Scotland’s West Highland Way and many sites of local pilgrimage and trail-walking in Ireland.

A Maverick USA Way

A Maverick USA Way is the fifth in a series of unconventional travel books by New Zealand author Mary Jane Walker. With 409 images, A Maverick USA Way describes Mary Jane’s adventures on the Amtrak rails, in the cities and in the wilderness.


Places Mary Jane visited include:

The Glacier, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks. She also visited Houston, Galveston, New York, Boston, Chicago, Birmingham, New Orleans and a number of other urban centres including Detroit, an Art Deco city that is reverting to parkland downtown. From North Dakota, Mary Jane made her way to the Native American protest camp against the Keystone pipeline at Standing Rock where she gained inside access. Mary Jane returned to New Zealand via Hawaiʻi, a fascinating archipelago in its own right.

Mary Jane Walker is a writer of historically well-informed travel stories that come with an autobiographical flavour. Mary Jane is a solo woman traveller who travels with no plans, just using intuition. She suffered a tragedy in her personal life and sought refuge through hiking and travelling the world.

Mary Jane first experienced world travel in an unusual way, as part of the crew on a Chinese junk named La Dame de Canton, the first to be built in the old way in decades. La Dame sailed from Canton, now Guangzhou, to Paris.

After only six weeks on the boat, Mary Jane found herself in the US military base of Diego Garcia, in which the junk sought refuge with ripped sails and water contaminated by salt.

Just as in the old days of exploration by sail, the voyage took a couple of years to complete, with many stops along the way for fresh water and supplies, and, yes, for repairs as well.