Travel Reading List: 8 Books I Read in New Zealand

Travel Reading List: 8 Books I Read in New Zealand

While in the Southern Alps, where the air was fresh and the mountains were tall, I found peace and adventure in New Zealand‘s landscapes, as well as some really great books. This literary journey transformed the Land of the Long White Cloud into something more than just a tourist destination.

Each page turn immersed me in a world reminiscent of the surrounding natural beauty. Each book was as memorable as the setting where I read it.

Imagine reading a book while lying under an old Kauri tree. The story in the book sounds as thrilling as those in Fiordland National Park. Eight books about Kiwi culture ended up on my reading list as a result of my travels. Each chapter led me down new paths and expanded my imagination.

Witness this reader’s journey through paperbacks and panoramas in New Zealand’s magical wilderness, where fiction and reality collide.

The most important takeaways:

  1. The autobiography Educated by Tara Westover was something I read while I was traveling, I read Tara Westover’s autobiography Educated. It’s about how she went from having a strict and lonely childhood to doing well in school. The book’s honest and strong writing made me think about how education can change people as I read it and saw New Zealand’s many landscapes.

  2. While I was in New Zealand, I read Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist.” It’s a sweet story about going after your goals. The magical mix of adventure, mysticism, and philosophy in this book made me even more sure that I should follow my own trail as I looked for new things.

  3. The book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Through Harari, I learned a lot about the history and culture of the places I live and the people who live there. Why did Harari study how humans evolved and how they lived together in the old rock formations of New Zealand? It made me think about what people are like.

  4. While hiking in New Zealand, I read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It’s about his trip along the High Line. It was funny and wise, which made me want to enjoy my hikes even when things went badly.

  5. I read “The Art of Travel” by Alain de Botton in New Zealand’s beautiful scenery. It made me think about why we travel. It examined the relationship between our deepest needs and wants and the reasons we travel. This helped me learn more about each place than just how it looks.

Caroline reading books in new zealand landscape
Caroline reading books in new zealand landscape

Embracing Maori Culture Through Literature

I became interested in Maori culture while traveling through New Zealand’s North Island. Witi Ihimaera’s “The Whale Rider” helped me understand better. The story is moving because it combines Maori mythology with modern events and is about a young Maori girl who fights against traditional gender roles.

The strong images and complex cultural tapestry helped me understand the complexities of Maori heritage, which made me value the places I visited even more.

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Bruce Ansley's Wild Journeys
Bruce Ansley’s Wild Journeys

Exploring New Zealand’s Wilds in Print

In the rough landscapes of the South Island, Bruce Ansley’s “Wild Journeys” played in the background. What a great book to take on vacation with me! It told me stories of New Zealand’s explorers and adventurers.

Each chapter felt like a new adventure, and they led me on a few side trips that helped me see the land through the eyes of those who had been there before me.




Understanding the Settler Experience

“The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton was a moving book that held my attention. It takes place during the West Coast Gold Rush of the 1860s and shows settler life in great detail.

The novel’s complexity and the author’s skill at telling a story made it interesting to look at the effects of the gold rush on towns like Hokitika, where the old buildings and street layouts still whisper about it.

Contemporary Issues in Fiction

I was deeply interested in “The Bone People” by Keri Hulme as I explored Wellington. This book showed me the modern problems that the Maori and Pakeha (people of European descent) communities face.

The emotional depth of the characters and the complexity of the story reminded me of how things work in New Zealand’s busy capital.

Nature’s Tale from a Bird’s-Eye View

It was life-changing to read “Beak of the Moon” by Philip Temple. As I hiked through Fiordland, the story of a kea, a native mountain parrot, provided a unique perspective on the relationship between people and nature.

The point of view of this book made me think, especially since the fiords were so beautiful and untouched.

Kiwi Humor and Satire

An Angel at My Table by Janet Frame
An Angel at My Table by Janet Frame

“An Angel at My Table” by Janet Frame made me laugh out loud. In her autobiography, she wrote about her life and also included the unique humor that only New Zealanders can understand.

Her sharp wit was a great way to pass the time on the long bus rides between places.




Adventure and Self-discovery

As well as being a travel story, Joe Bennett’s “A Land of Two Halves” became a guide to thought. Bennett’s thoughts on hitchhiking across the country made me think of my own travels as a journey of self-discovery, which made me want to connect with the people I met more deeply.

A Historical Journey Back in Time

Chris Thompson’s “Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All” was the last song on my list. By combining facts and personal stories, this historical memoir offers a unique perspective on the settlement of New Zealand.

Because the author was from two different cultures, they were able to write an interesting story that showed how New Zealand’s cultures clashed and exchanged with each other.

How do you go about making your own travel reading list?

  1. Pick books that give you cultural information about the place you’re going to help you learn more about it.

  2. Include autobiographies or novels written by people who live in the country. These will help you understand what they went through.

  3. To get a sense of how the place has changed over time, look for works that cover both historical and modern points of view.

  4. Choose a variety of types of books, such as fiction, travel writing, and memoirs, to keep your reading list interesting and varied.

  5. Consider reading books that explore the area’s natural landscape and demonstrate the inextricable link between the land and its people.

Last Thoughts on my Travel Reading List in New Zealand

These eight books were more than just something to read on flights or in the afternoons when I was tired. They became a part of my trip to New Zealand. They helped people get to know the real heart and soul of this lovely country.

With each page turn, I got closer to the spirit of Aotearoa. The stories and histories inside the books became part of my memories of the land and its people.

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The stories that permeated my travels influenced both what I saw and how I saw it. By giving this list to you, I hope it does the same for someone else. I hope these books can be both friends and guides, helping you see the deeper beauty of New Zealand and the fun of reading as part of the adventure.

Have fun traveling and reading!

travel reading list


What made you choose those books for the trip to New Zealand?

We selected the books to portray the essence of New Zealand culture and lifestyle. We selected each book to enhance the travel experience. They range from novels set in beautiful landscapes to stories about Maori history and legends. The goal of the selection was to make people feel more connected to the places they visited by combining reading and travel.

Are all of the books on the list about New Zealand?

Some of the books have something to do with New Zealand, either by the setting, the author, or the subject. Others were well-known works with a strong theme or just great books to read while traveling. The mix made for a varied reading experience that had both a local flavor and an appeal to everyone.

Can these books make traveling to other places more enjoyable?

Of course! The beautiful scenery in New Zealand inspired these books, but they also have universal themes and stories that can help readers understand and enjoy any new place they visit. These stories show that books can be an important part of any trip, no matter where it takes you.

Where can I get these books for the best price?

These books are widely available in a number of formats. You can find a lot of useful information in local bookstores, online stores, and e-reader platforms. For a more authentic feel, support local bookstores or look for editions when you get to New Zealand.

You could also buy it straight from Amazon using my links in the content, as this will help and support my blog. Thank You!

Should I read these books in a certain order?

There is no need for strict order. You can start reading any book that fits your mood or where you are. This carefully chosen list focuses on immersion rather than order, making for a flexible and unplanned literary adventure.

Are there any New Zealand authors on the list?

Indeed, there are New Zealand authors on my travel reading list. They are:

  • Witi Ihimaera, who wrote “The Whale Rider,” is a famous Maori author from New Zealand who is known for using Maori culture and mythology in his writing.

  • Bruce Ansley, the author of “Wild Journeys,” is a New Zealand writer who explores the country’s landscapes and history through his narratives.

  • Eleanor Catton is a writer from New Zealand whose work is known all over the world. “The Luminaries” takes place in New Zealand during the Gold Rush on the West Coast.

  • Keri Hulme, the author of “The Bone People,” is a New Zealand writer of Maori, Scottish, and English ancestry. Her book talks about modern problems that Maori and Pakeha communities are facing.

  • Philip Temple is a New Zealand author who wrote “Beak of the Moon.” He is known for his fiction and non-fiction books about nature and adventure.

  • Janet Frame, who wrote “An Angel at My Table,” is a famous New Zealand author who is known for writing autobiographies that look at her own life with a unique blend of humor and insight.

How did you choose the books to represent each region of New Zealand?

We selected each book to illuminate distinct aspects of New Zealand’s society and landscape. Each book, whether it’s a novel set in the Southern Alps or a nonfiction work about coastal towns, was chosen to show a different side of the country’s cultural and geographical variety.

Are there going to be any heavy or tough topics talked about?

The books are about a lot of different types of things, from funny stories to deep looks into history and people. The selection is well-balanced to suit a wide range of tastes and moods, though some may deal with more serious topics.

Is it better to read these books before or after my trip?

Both before you leave and while you’re seeing the sights in New Zealand, these books are great to read together. Reading ahead of time can add excitement and context, while reading in the present can make the moment more meaningful.

Do these books have New Zealand travel tips or guides?

The books aren’t exactly travel guides, but they do have cultural and historical information that can make your trip much better. They show things from different points of view that might make you want to find hidden gems and enjoy the little things about New Zealand’s way of life.


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