David Relph grew up in the late 1930s and 1940s on a sheep run in the central Canterbury high country. He attended the University of Canterbury, obtaining an MSc in Geography befor embarking on a teaching career in secondary schools, mostly in the Auckland region. Over the past 30 years he has written a large number of secondary school textbooks on science and biology and on conservation issues. He has also published occasional articles in a variety of journals and magazines. His passion for the Canterbury high country led to the release in 2007 of From Tussocks to Tourists, a book about the central Canterbury high country, and its success has resulted in the writing of The Mackenzie Country.