Kanze to lead 2014 Smithsonian tour of Australia, New Zealand

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., will send Bloomingdale author and naturalist Ed Kanze and 16 to 24 intrepid companions to Australia and New Zealand in February and March 2014 as part of its Smithsonian Journeys program.

Kanze led an earlier Smithsonian trip down under in 2011, and has traveled seven times to New Zealand, beginning in 1984, and four times to Australia.

He writes the “Wild Side” column for the Adirondack Explorer and is a frequent contributor to “Adirondack Life.” His most recent book, “Over The Mountain and Home Again,” was published by Nicholas K. Burns Publishing in Utica. Ed’s new projects include a novel about the explorer Henry Hudson and a nonfiction project that combines natural history, personal history, and family history in the Adirondacks.

The new Adirondack book will be published in summer 2014 by SUNY Press. Kanze’s naturalist guiding service (www.edwardkanze.com) serves guests of the Lake Placid Lodge, The Point and White Pine Camp as well as other visitors from near and far.

Those interested in learning more about the Smithsonian trip, which will feature visits to five World Heritage Sites and Kanze as study leader, can learn the details at www.smithsonianjourneys.org..

The group will first assemble in Los Angeles, then fly together across the Pacific to Cairns, in the Australian state of Queensland, to begin its adventures.

Smithsonian Journeys sums up the itinerary:

“Venture ‘down under’ for an exploration of some of the world’s most stunningly diverse landscapes-from colorful coral reefs and lush forests to stark deserts and dramatic fjords. In Australia’s unique northern ecosystems, travel through the rain forest canopy of Kuranda on the world’s longest gondola cableway and visit the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage site. In the storied Outback, savor a traditional ‘bush’ dinner and Aboriginal ‘Dreamtime’ tour and watch the sun set over Ayers Rock at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Fly to magnificent Sydney, where highlights include the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Koala Sanctuary, and the iconic Opera House.

“Continue to New Zealand for an eight-day journey that features Mt. Cook and magnificent Fjordlands National Park, both World Heritage sites, with a cruise across the renowned Milford Sound. Observe famed geothermal features on the North Island and visit the Maori cultural center in Rotorua, where you’ll enjoy a traditional hangi dinner and Maori performance.”

Kanze’s travels in New Zealand have spanned nearly the entire country and involved him in scientific research expeditions to remote islands. His book, “Notes From New Zealand: A Book of Travel and Natural History,” tells of his early adventures there. It was published by Henry Holt in 1992.

Kanze’s Australian travels began in 1996, when he and his wife, Debbie, made a nine-month, 25,000-mile camping trip around the continent and the island state of Tasmania. They traveled to remote regions, saw 419 species of birds, forged lasting friendships with natives, and enjoyed encounters with a long list of Australia’s iconic animals, including platypuses, echidnas, kangaroos, wombats, flying foxes, dingoes, estuarine crocodiles, giant monitor lizards, and deadly but beautiful snakes. The trip is described in Kanze’s book, “Kangaroo Dreaming: An Australian Wildlife Odyssey,” published in 2000 by Random House and Sierra Club Books. Ed and Debbie returned to Australia for further adventures in the wilds in 2002 and with their children in 2013. A story about Ed and Debbie’s experiences with kangaroos was published in “Morning Calm,” the Seoul-based in-flight magazine of Korean Air.

“In three weeks, you can’t see it all,” Kanze said. “But this itinerary offers an exciting introduction to a great many of the landscapes, wild creatures, endemic plants, cultural traditions, and urban areas that make Australia and New Zealand among the world’s most appealing places to visit. I’m honored that the Smithsonian staff tracked me down and delighted they asked me to serve as leader.”

Kanze, a former national park ranger and much-published writer, received the John Burroughs Association’s prestigious annual award for 2004’s outstanding published natural history essay. He is a member of the Author’s Guild and the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Ed lives with his wife, Debbie, and children Ned and Tasman on 18 acres in Bloomingdale.