Books for The Road: New Zealand

New Zealand is a land filled with jaw dropping glaciers, miles and miles of coasts with white sand beaches, epic mountains, lush rain forests and even an active volcanic thermal area. In addition to its abundance of natural beauty it also boasts a unique culture with a fascinating history.

Most travel experts would agree that the best way to prepare before a journey to an unknown destination is to enhance your cultural literacy - ie, read books that explore local authors, local issues and more. For centuries, literature has been the clearest window through which we keep record of how society changes through time.

So before embarking on your bucket-list journey to these remote Pacific Islands, be sure to make the most of your time time there by looking through our suggestions for the best reads that will help immerse you in New Zealander perspectives, history, lives and culture!

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The Penguin History of New Zealand

Michael King

Complete narrative of New Zealand’s cultural and social journey, starting from colonization to its independence. Explores the complete story behind the last country in the globe to be settled by human kind - fantastic reference for travelers seeking an in-depth peek into how New Zealand culture came to be.

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Squashed Possums: 

Off the Beaten Track in New Zealand

Jonathan Tindale

If you are looking for travel inspiration, this book is perfect for you. It is the story of Tindale’s traveling adventures and setbacks during his year traveling around New Zealand in a caravan. Experiencing wild adventures that transformed his life, Jon’s story is both entertaining and insightful.

In the Land of the Long White Cloud saga

Sarah Lark

Set in New Zealand in the nineteenth century during the countries colonial backdrop, two women from completely different backgrounds meet on a ship on their way to Christchurch and find a bond like no other. A book filled with romance, friendship and adventure, as well as plenty of interesting details on this chapter of New Zealand’s history.

Great Kiwi Firsts

Astral Sligo

A book filled with all Kiwi achievements, from the man who was the first to climb Mount Everest to being the first country that gave women the right to vote. From the good to the bad, this book shows the passion, motivation and creativity at the core of the New Zealand character. Just perfect for your upcoming adventure!

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The Whale Rider

Witi Ihimaera

The well known book-turned-movie that tells the story of legendary Kahu, a member of the Maori tribe Whangara in New Zealand. She is able to save the future of her tribe because of her unexpected gift of communicating with whales. The Maori legacy (including its relationship to the ocean and marine life) is very important in New Zealand’s culture, having extensively shaped its traditions and modern life.

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Long Cloud Ride

Josie Dew

The story of Josie Dew, a recognized cyclist and author known for riding 10,00 kilometers during 9 months around the North and South islands of New Zealand. A race against nature and a mental and physical challenge not many could overcome, her story is filled with inspiration for anyone passionate about adventurous travels and fully exploring New Zealand. 

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Under the Mountain

Maurice Gee

A children’s classic, this story follows brother and sister Theo and Rachel who find themselves living the dream of any kid: learning they have superpowers! Filled with adventure, the twins are charged with saving the world from giant creatures that are waking from a spellbound sleep which has lasted thousands of years.

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The Luminaries

Eleanor Catton

Set in the New Zealand gold-rush era in the late 19th century, this captivating ghost story is filled with enough mystery and suspense to keep you avidly turning from page to page. Upon arriving to stake his claim, Walter Moody finds a gathering of 12 men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events. Will they solve the mystery? 

Vaka Moana, Voyages of the Ancestors:

The Discovery and Settlement of the Pacific

K.R Howe

New Zealand’s discovery and settlement is a riveting story of human migration. Learn about the daring explorers that traversed seemingly unending miles of unknown sea to discover far-flung lands. Alongside their incredible stories, the book is filled with fascinating pictures, maps and diagrams.