He spends most of his time traveling and climbing: the remote quartzite mountains in Morocco, the lazy limestone hugging the coast of Thailand, the otherworldly ice lines of the Canadian Rockies, the hallowed walls of Yosemite.
Over the years he has studied the habitat and rituals of the curious creature known as the “dirtbag”, someone who sacrifices societal norms – a job, a house to live in, good hygiene standards – to maximise climb-time, while mostly living in a vehicle or tent. His regular climbing column, Dirtbag Dispatches (formerly The Dirtbag Diaries), can be found in the pages of New Zealand Adventure Magazine, and he regularly writes for The Climber, NZ Alpine Club’s quarterly magazine..
He has been a journalist for over 15 years, having previously been a political journalist for the New Zealand Herald, covering diverse topics such as the Christchurch earthquake, the terror attack of March 15, the Covid-19 crisis and response, and the general elections of 2011, 2014 and 2020, as well as the period following the 2017 election.
His travels have afforded opportunities to write about the unusual, from some underarm beauty treatment in the Philippines, to the intestinal misadventures that can accompany the perils of street food.
He has also written feature stories about suffering in silence in the mountains of Nepal, the richness of human creativity at Burning Man in the Nevada Desert, and human trafficking and forced prostitution in Cambodia.
Derek graduated from Otago University in New Zealand with an Arts degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and a Science degree in Computer Science, and from Massey University with a Graduate Diploma in Journalism.