Name: Christoffer (Chris) van Ryn

Occupation: Freelance Journalist, Travel Writer, Essayist, Photographer and Photojournalist

What I write: I write creative non-fiction - real-life essays that blend the literary craft with journalism. Compelling stories, vignettes and slices of reality that sing on the page.

Lives: Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand

Languages: English as a first language - fluent in Dutch, learning Esperanto (the universal language of peace)

Magazines: Life and Leisure, D-Photo, M2, MindFood, North and South, AA Directions, The Listener, Heritage NZ

Contact: +6421942197

READERS' FEEDBACK - about stories and photos

Welcome to the Outback

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"Hi, this is the first time I have written to a magazine. I just wanted to say how amazing Chris van Ryn's writing is, it is poetic and I felt I was there in the dry heat of the Outback. Great language and visualisation. The photos were excellent too. Thanks you so much, what a talent".

Catherine Vasey

"Well, have you just made my morning!! What a fabulous piece of writing. It is a fine, fine story, I really went somewhere with it. Congratulations. World class work. I'd be proud to publish it".

Kate Coughlan (Editor Life and Leisure Magazine)

Wellington on Foot

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"I loved and got lost in the piece by Chris van Ryn (Wellington on Foot). Born in Wellington in the mid-70s I have memories of sitting on the outside of the Cable Car, the Botanical Gardens and the Cuba Street fountain, which I’m amazed to see still stands. I moved away but later returned to study, during which time I definitely did not relish the usually cold and windy walk up to Vic Uni., and later again on and off for work. Wellington is always changing and there is so much to see, so many art surprises, dusty op shops, Vietnamese noodle bars, café gems and random laneways. Last time I visited, I stayed in a fantastic Air-BnB, so warm and dry I didn’t know houses like that existed in Welly. I had the most delicious date scone flavoured lightly with cumin at Le Maquis Epicerie Du Coin in Wadestown, and a ‘discussion’ with the cook about how it was the best scone I’ve ever had but that it needed butter and plenty of it – he didn’t agree. The waterfront is nowadays a pleasure to spend time at. Wellington is a rarity in Aotearoa - a city where it is wonderful to just set out and wander, potentially getting lost along the way. As Chris notes: “It’s the ordinary who are extraordinary.” Thanks for the walk down memory lane and the encouragement to plan another trip to my hometown."

Nga mihi

Stephanie Korucu


"Living in Masterton with a daughter and family in Christchurch, we would often free train it to Wellington Station and then trundle our bags around the city waterfront on the way to the airport.

We would have several hours available, and rain, wind or sun, it was always an inspiring and relaxing stroll.

So I loved writer/photographer Chris van Ryn's article Destination/Wellington walking tour in March/April 2021 Life & Leisure.

His style is poetic and we wander with him noticing and immersing ourselves in the details of everyday Wellington.

We have a beautiful capital city that feeds our soul and Chris has captured precious little cameos which entice us back to enjoy another glimpse.

Thank you for choosing such talented writers and craftspeople to give us our bi-monthly feast about our unique country. We frequently have guests in our home and it's our plan that your magazine awaits them to inspire and nourish them as it does us".

Joan Desmond


To the Edge of the World

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What a fantastic article about Mongolia. I found it really interesting and am really keen to visit this intriguing country. I love how remote it is and how the people are so attuned to the land. It is heartening to hear how simply people can live and still be incredibly happy in their environment. I've always been intrigued by shamanism and the connection to their land and ancestors. I'd love to stay in a teepee and attempt to ride by horse across the landscape to experience parts of the earth that are explored by so few. The author highlights the beauty of the landscape and people with both his words and incredible images. I would love to recreate his footsteps and delve into the remoteness and isolation of this nomadic and beautiful country. I'd never thought to visit Mongolia but your article has really captured my interest and imagination.

M Meade

121 Kent St

Carterton 5713

Still Lucky

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I started reading the March/April travel piece -'Still Lucky', drawn by my own desire to yet see India . I first admired the wonderful portrait of photographs.

But then, in my impatient way, I began to bristle at the ensuing and inevitable haggling toward poor Lucky the rickshaw driver, on reaching the ashram destination .

I was thinking of the indulgence and luxury of cheap travel which often the third world affords us - the haggling and bartering which is part of the experience.

To go 'find ourselves spiritually', reach another step in the journey of life in an ashram seemed at odds with the haggling.

BUT, then I am of course delighted, by the end, to find the writer indeed concludes his time of solitude and reflection, with thoughts of Lucky the rickshaw driver.

Ten days in the ashram give him perhaps a sharper view of life and reason to make amends with Lucky.

So, most pleased am I with this outcome! But not sanctimoniously so, because outside of the marvel of new sights, new food and meeting people, it is often guilt and misgiving which walks along side many an exhausting purchase or transaction whilst traveling poorer countries than ours.

I have questioned my own trade/transport interactions in hot crowded markets and streets and the absurdity of not wanting to be 'ripped off ' .

Thankyou for this excellent and descriptive travel article .India still calls but am uncertain whether I would have the fortitude for 10 days of ashram meditative silence!

Heather McVicar


Kia Ora Chris, Good morning!

I read your beautiful article about your Varanasi and Vipassana experience – I love the way you write. In a world that usually uses simple and easy words to convey quick messages, I appreciate deeply your selection of words, carefully picked to describe precisely what you were experiencing with your senses.

I really enjoyed it, thank you for sharing your world, your emotions, thoughts and experiences.

Maria Mariotti


A View from the Sideline

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"Or maybe you’re not a visual learner. In that case, read aloud the words of Chris van Ryn a journalist from New Zealand, who was part of a handful in international sports reporters invited to Ireland to watch this most intense game. Get ready for some pure poetry:

An arm extends high into the air. Forearm muscles crease with tension, a white-knuckled fist grips the end of a curved pale stick. Thigh muscles ripple like the powerful flank of a running horse as studded boots leave the earth.

A single player ascends towards a white ball which arcs high from the other side of the field, cutting through the air with razor blade sharpness. 82,600 heads rise in unison … and fall, following the trajectory of the sliotar as it hurtles towards the player. Seconds later he is intercepted by a furious swarm. There is an almighty thunder from the crowd as hurleys and players collide.

This, then, is the legendary “clash of the ash” — a demonstration of the most powerful release of sporting energy I have ever seen.Through my lens I saw before me a sport which has come from the forge of life’s journey, the players harnessing all of history’s emotions in play on the field. It is as if each player is imbued with centuries of the emotional ebb and flow of Ireland.

Forget football! Are you ready for some hurling?

Marissa Payne

The Washington Post

Natural Connections

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"I've had the pleasure of reading your issue 101. It's my daughter's subscription, and the first (but definitely not the last) time I'll read your wonderful, top quality, magazine. I have enjoyed every single article with much admiration of the writing and enchanting photos.

The one article that especially moved me to write in was titled Natural Connections. What Chris van Ryn has written regarding trees particularly resonated with me, as I absolutely love to wander in the bush amongst the trees, and experience the life and serenity emanating from those life forms.

I've long regarded trees as the most important and beneficial beings on this planet, and reading that article has helped solidify that for me.

The conclusion in the last few lines brought me to tears.

So, thank you Chris van Ryn for writing it, and thanks to NZ Life and Leisure for publishing it".

Janet Taukiri


Dublin by Foot

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"Just a quick note to say I so enjoyed your Dublin article in Life and Leisure Magazine. It was such a captivating read. Kate and the team did a great job too with the look and feel – fabulous photos you took".

All the best

Darragh Walshe – NZ Representative

Tourism Ireland

Move it in Madagascar

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Hi There,

"I have just read an article in your March/April edition on cycling in Madagascar.

We own and run a international cycle tour company, Escape Adventures, and one of our tours that we lead is in Madagascar.

I was very disappointed to read the article you published as it portrayed a very negative impression of the country and its people. I have personally led multiple cycle tours there and have only found it to be the most positive, warm and friendly place and yes a lot of the people do seem to be poor compared to us but the reality is that they are generally happy, well fed and well housed, just to a different standard to what we are used to.

I feel that your article totally mis-represented Madagascar and its people which saddens me as being a poor country it needs positive and uplifting publicity to encourage more people to visit and stimulate its economy".

Thanks for your time

John Etherington - Owner Operator -Escape Adventures

From Kate Coughlan - Editor Life and Leisure Magazine

I feel privileged to publish Chris van Ryn’s work. The way he tells stories moves me and takes me to places I did not expect to go. When he emails offering a look at his latest story I am always intrigued. However, I often save reading his story for a time when I wish to escape from a “first world” problem as I know it is likely to be a special experience. Likely as not, it will take me traveling amongst the world’s least lucky people and will open my mind to new ways of seeing the world.

His work speaks so strongly and needs very little said in support. But here are a few unedited exchanges his work provoked amongst our NZ Life & Leisure team. They will speak for themselves of the impact his work has on us:

From my subeditor: "Who on earth is Chris van Ryn? Oh my god! Hells, I can’t wait to see his photos if he’s that bloody good a writer. Such talent."

Me, Kate editor, replying to Chris about his Lucky story: "Well, I just don't know what to say - it is sublime, superb. I've gone to the heart of mediation and I've never been there before. It is a parable. My skin is goose-bumping and I'm trying to "hear" my own breath. I'd be proud to publish it.”

Me, Kate editor, replying to his Dublin story: “You write so "fooking" well - I love it.”

I think Chris is a master at telling stories with images and words. He gathers his material, often in very challenging circumstances, by getting dirty, being on a push bike in the poorest parts of a country, sitting unmoving for 10 days, living amongst the subjects whose lives he honours. The authenticity of these experiences and insights powers his work.

He instinctively understands the NZ Life & Leisure audience interest in learning and understanding the lives of others. Our readers want to connect with the world to try and make sense of their own lives. Chris is part of that journey. His travel writing transcends the happy travelogue of sunshine and good cheer and takes us all so much farther.

Portrait Photography

"The photography is amazing ... ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’... but in this case every picture is worth a thousand stories. Those faces speak of another humanity .. seemingly where lack and pain are normal ... and we dare to think we have it tough because the price of broccoli goes up!"

Neal Smith


Lone Traveller

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"Hello Chris,

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your article, “ A cyclist ponders the simple joys of exploring Auckland on two wheels” in the latest online New Zealand Life and Leisure I received via email. Your descriptives evoked an intimate feel for the areas seen through your eyes, with a very calming element along the way. I could relate to this as, on two previous trips to NZ (particularly the Bay of Islands) I also experienced the wonder of the sights and sounds in nature as I walked along quiet trails, waterfalls, ocean beaches and the nature reserves. Your environment is very different from the sights and sounds in nature here on the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada, where I live. I was so taken with the tropical sounds in nature that I bought “Aotearoa - Nature Sounds of New Zealand” so I could be brought back to those summer days with the Tuis and Bellbirds singing without buying a plane ticket!

I am looking forward to another six weeks in the Northland in your summer of 2023 to once again experience those sounds of nature! After reading your article, I will have to organise another trip and spend some more time in Auckland!"

Tena rawa atu koe,

Julie Mills,

British Columbia, Canada