About Naomi

I’ve been reporting and writing full-time for 17 years, fostering a special interest in science and nature stories. I also regularly write about travel, health, arts and history.

I’m a keen tramper and will throw myself into any outdoors pursuit in the name of a story, which has seen me hiking, rafting, caving, paragliding, trapping, sailing, skiing, helicoptering, horse-riding, stunt driving and mountain-biking all around Aotearoa. 

I love to travel for work and have reported from every region in New Zealand, as well as Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the US, Canada, and Australia. A particular highlight was spending nine weeks writing about ice life and science while based at New Zealand’s Antarctic research station, Scott Base, as the International Polar Year Media Scholar. Another was spending a month covering the New Zealand team's fortunes at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, as the country's sole print reporter at the Games.

I live outside Nelson on a couple of hectares that my husband and I are trapping and regenerating in the hopes of encouraging birdlife, with plans for a food forest and creative community space in our old woolshed. Over the summer of 2023-2024 I'll be walking the length of Aotearoa on Te Araroa, New Zealand's long-distance trail. 

Experience

After spending a year freelancing from South Korea, I studied journalism at the University of Canterbury in 2008. I spent the first five years of my career working as a news reporter, feature writer, blogger, entertainment editor, social media editor, and columnist forThe Nelson Mail /Stuff,  and started freelancing full-time in 2014. In 2021 I joined Radio New Zealand and spent a year as senior longform journalist before returning to freelance life. 

My news, feature and travel stories and photographs have been published in New Zealand Geographic, The Listener, NZ Life & Leisure, Kia OraNZ Lifestyle BlockNorth & South, Sky Sports, The New Zealand Herald, The Sunday Star Times, Metro, AA Traveller, Sunday, Canvas, The Press, The Post, Wilderness, and The Spinoff. International bylines include the Washington Post, The Guardian,  Lonely PlanetOverlandGastro Obscura, Pacific Standard, BBC Travel, HipCamp, and airline magazines including Jetstar, Cathay Pacific’s Discovery, and Virgin’s Voyeur

I’m the author of the critically-acclaimed astronomy book Southern Nights (HarperCollins), which both Newsroom and The Spinoff named in their top 10 non-fiction books of 2019. I also edited the essay collection Headlands (Victoria University Press, 2018), which is now being made into a series of short films.

Other books I’ve written are World of WearableArt: 30 Designers Tell Their Stories (Potton & Burton, 2014), in which I talked to wonderfully talented artists from all over the globe about their creative vision and practice. I also wrote At Home With Hospice, a charity book documenting 30 years of hospice care in Nelson Tasman. I’ve had essays collected in two editions of Tell You What: Great New Zealand Non-fiction and contributed an essay to the book Don't Dream It's Over: Reimagining Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In 2014 I launched and ran the website and newsletter Featured, which celebrated great New Zealand non-fiction, and created and hosted The Get, a podcast with The Spinoff, which interviewed journalists about their toughest stories. I have been a book reviewer in print and for radio, and was an interviewer for the New Zealand Society of Authors Oral History Project, in which I talked to acclaimed writers Brian Turner, Kyle Mewburn, and Barbara Else. In 2017 I organised and ran the Nelson Arts Festival's book programme, and have been a speaker, host, and/or panellist at most of the literary festivals in New Zealand. I'm a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors, TravMedia, and volunteer for the Top of the South Film Festival. 

Education & awards

I'm a 15-time finalist and three-time winner across many different feature writing categories at the Voyager Media Awards and Webstar Magazine Awards, including three nominations for Feature Writer of the Year. I won the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Personal Essay Prize in 2014 and have been lucky enough to have my work supported by a Science Journalism Grant, an Asia New Zealand Media Grant, and the Surrey Hotel Writers Residency. 

I have a BA Hons (first-class) in English Literature from the University of Otago, where I received the Lawrence Jones Prize in New Zealand & Post-Colonial Literature and the James Clark Prize for top student, before taking off overseas. I returned to New Zealand to study for a Graduate Diploma in Journalism at the University of Canterbury, where I received the Robert Bell Scholarship and the D.W. Bain Prize for top student. Several years later I was lucky enough to receive the Robert Bell Travelling Scholarship in Journalism to study the digital delivery of feature writing in the United States.