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Planning a trip to New Zealand? Here are our recommendations of travel guide books to read before you go.

the bone people - New Zealand : What To Read Before You Go
The Bone People

The Bone People is the story of Kerewin, a despairing part-Maori artist who has exiled herself from her family and society and lives in a tower she has built on the South Island coast. Her solitary life is disrupted by the sudden arrival during a rainstorm of Simon, a mute six-year-old whose past seems to hold some terrible trauma. In his wake comes his foster-father Joe, a Maori factory worker with a nasty temper. The story unravels to reveal the truths that lie behind these three characters, and in so doing, tackles the clash between Maori and European characters in a beautiful prose of a heartrending poignancy. This is a powerful story that vividly portrays New Zealand’s people, heritage and landscape. Winner of the Booker Prize in 1985.

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The Whale Rider

You may have seen the movie, but read the book if you haven’t already. Eight-year-old Kahu craves her great-grandfather's love and attention. But he is focused on his duties as chief of a Maori tribe in Whangara, on the East Coast of New Zealand - a tribe that claims to be descended from the legendary 'whale rider'. In every generation since the whale rider, a male has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir - there's only Kahu. She should be the next in line for the title, but her great-grandfather is blinded by tradition and sees no use for a girl. Kahu will not be ignored. And in her struggle she has a unique ally- the whale rider himself, from whom she has inherited the ability to communicate with whales. A picture book edition of the story is also available for younger readers.

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The Luminaries

It’s 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the goldfields of the South Island’s West Coast. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. The Luminaries is a gripping mystery that richly evokes a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust. Winner of the Booker Prize in 2013 and the 2014 ABIA International Book of the Year.

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The Colour

The Colour is a gripping drama of sacrifice and greed set during the mid-nineteenth-century gold rush in New Zealand. Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from Norfolk to New Zealand in search of new beginnings and prosperity. But the harsh land near Christchurch threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in the creek he is seized by a rapturous obsession with the riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new gold-fields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of 'the colour', are violently rushing to their destinies.

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Straying from the Flock : Travels in New Zealand

This is an intimate and personal account of one passionate traveler’s visit to New Zealand, its mountains and beaches, fjords, rainforests, vineyards, and hidden eateries. Each of the fifty chapters describes one day in his travels – fishing, flying, cattle herding, befriending locals at every turn. Filled with colourful stories and memorable personalities, the book not only describes Elder’s journey, but captures the impact the experience had on his life. From mountains and rainforests to cities and beaches, Straying from the Flock is both a moving memoir and personal travel guide to this amazing country.

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Squashed Possums : Off the Beaten Track in New Zealand

This is a travel narrative with a difference – it’s narrated, not by the traveller (Jonathan Tindale), but by the caravan he stayed in. Squashed Possums reveals what it's like to live in the wild through four seasons, including New Zealand's coldest winter in decades. Discover how Jon finds himself reversing off the edge of a cliff, meet the Maori chef who survived 9/11, the pioneers who paved the way, and catch sight of the elusive kiwi bird. Encounter hedgehogs that fly, possums that scream, and perhaps most importantly, the lone caravan with a story to tell. Squashed Possums is an entertaining and informative read.

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Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All

This is the story of the cultural collision between Westerners and Maoris, told partly as a history of the complex and violent period of contact between Europeans and the Maoris and partly as the story of Christina Thompson's unlikely marriage to a Maori man. Beginning with Abel Tasman's discovery of New Zealand in 1642 and Cook's circumnavigation of 1770, Thompson explores the legacy of cultural displacement over centuries: the fascination, the friction and the bloody encounters that have left indelible scars on the consciousness of New Zealand. This multilayered, highly informative and insightful book blends memoir, historical and travel narrative and is meticulously researched.

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Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy Location Guidebook

Following the global success of the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, New Zealand has become the embodiment of Middle-earth to millions of moviegoers and readers the world over. This definitive full-colour guidebook showcases the principal movie set locations around New Zealand as seen in The Hobbit films. It provides stunning original landscape photography, valuable background information and exclusive contributions by Sir Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis and other cast and crew members. If you’re a Middle-earth fan, you’ll want to pack this guidebook for your trip.

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Main photo credit: kewl / Pixaby