New Zealand Road Reads: Five Great Books to Get You Excited About a Visit

These five books bring New Zealand and its people to life, whether you’re a native Kiwi or have always dreamed of traveling there.

The Luminaries: A Novel by Eleanor Catton is a novel by Eleanor Catton.

The protagonist of this 2013 Booker Prize-winning novel, young Walter Moody, sets out to strike it rich during the 1860s gold rush in New Zealand. Strange things start to happen in a Hokitika hotel bar on a dark and stormy night, and it’s hard to explain why. As a group of twelve men gathers in secret to discuss the disappearance of a wealthy businessman, the suicide attempt of a prostitute, and the discovery of a large gold fortune in the home of a drunkard, the room falls silent. As Walter becomes increasingly entangled in the town’s ever-deepening mysteries, he discovers that nothing is quite what it seems.

Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame is number two on the list.

Daphne Withers is a young woman who arrives in postwar New Zealand in the 1940s and is initially misdiagnosed as a lunatic. The protagonist of Frame’s first novel, “Daphne,” is committed to a mental institution and subjected to a terrifying lobotomy. After winning a prestigious literary award, the author was able to forego having the surgery in real life as a result of his success. Jane Campion’s memoir, An Angel at My Table, was turned into a critically acclaimed film by director Jane Campion.

The Whale Rider is a novel by Witi Ihimaera (Book 3)

‘Kahu’s Struggle to Find Her Place in Maori Tradition’ is a novel by Witi Ihimaera, which was adapted into a beloved film by the same name. Due to the fact that he does not have a son to succeed him, Whangara’s great-grandfather, the aging chief of the Whangara tribe, is blind to her abilities and ambition. The true power of Kahu is revealed when hundreds of whales wash up on the shore, prompting her to call upon ancient gifts in order to save not only the whales, but also the tribe’s future.

Keri Hulme’s novel The Bone People is the fourth book on my reading list.

The novel The Bone People, which won the Booker Prize for fiction in 1985, is set in a solitary tower on the coast of New Zealand. Despite the fact that Kerewin Holmes is a mix of European and Maori descent, she lives alone until a shipwreck brings an orphaned boy and his foster father knocking on her door. Even though they are social outcasts as a result of their mixed heritage, the three fall in love with one another before shocking revelations are revealed. Many Maori words and phrases appear throughout the story, with a glossary at the end to assist you in understanding them more thoroughly.

The Wild Journeys of Bruce Ansley

Off-the-beaten-path travel is something that G Adventures has done in the past with great success. Wild Journeys, a new book by a renowned New Zealand writer, retraces famous New Zealand adventures such as prison breaks and bird-hunting parties in Fiordland while reflecting on the past. In the hope of discovering a link to the past, he sails around the Northern and Southern Capes, digs into remote gold rush settlements, and follows in the footsteps of renowned Maori faith-healers and war party leaders, among other things. That screams “adventure” in our book. Come on, let’s get this party going!

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