Our family seeks to make our children comfortable about traveling abroad months in advance of our adventures. One of the ways that we do this is through reading books that familiarize them with what we might see, do, or experience in the destination country.
As our family has been planning our 5-week-excursion through the islands of New Zealand, we have been looking for unique New Zealand storybooks to share with our children.
Honestly, it has been quite difficult finding books in the United States that are unique to Kiwi culture rather than combining Australia and New Zealand. So, here we have put together a list of some children’s books that introduce your children to New Zealand, it’s culture, it’s history, and it’s rich natural beauty.
Many of these can be found at your local library, but Amazon links are listed for your convenience.
As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a commission on purchases made by following my affiliate links below. However, this does not charge you any extra and allows me to continue making content!
Books for Children About New Zealand
New Zealand is a land of stunning landscapes, unique wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, and reading books that delve into its culture, history, and traditions can serve as a bridge between the familiar and the unfamiliar.
The books on the list below provide a window into the indigenous Māori culture, the stories of early settlers, and the vibrant contemporary life of New Zealand.
If you are introducing your children to New Zealand or planning a trip, these books can help your children build anticipation, curiosity, and comfort. Your children can develop a deeper appreciation and respect for the local customs, language, and people they will encounter during their visit.
Additionally, such reading materials can inspire a sense of adventure and wonder, creating lasting memories and meaningful connections with the destination. In essence, exploring New Zealand’s culture through literature lays the foundation for an immersive, educational, and truly transformative travel experience for young minds.
Books to Read with Kids Before Visiting New Zealand
Dinobibi New Zealand: Travel for Kids
“Dinobibi’s New Zealand Travel for Kids: The Fun Way to Discover New Zealand” is a delightful children’s book that offers young readers a captivating introduction to the wonders of New Zealand’s natural world and culture. Through colorful illustrations and engaging storytelling, it introduces kids to the country’s unique flora and fauna, such as kiwis and giant kauri trees, as well as its indigenous Māori heritage. Reading this book before traveling to New Zealand can spark children’s curiosity, helping them appreciate the country’s distinct beauty and traditions, making their journey even more enriching and enjoyable.
Inky the Octopus
“Inky the Octopus” by Erin Guendelsberger is a heartwarming children’s book that tells the true story of an adventurous octopus’s escape from a New Zealand aquarium and his journey to freedom in the open sea. This delightful tale not only entertains but also introduces young readers to the country’s stunning coastal landscapes and its unique marine life. Reading “Inky the Octopus” before traveling to New Zealand can ignite kids’ fascination with the ocean and the diverse ecosystems found in the region, setting the stage for an exciting and educational exploration of the country’s coastal wonders during their trip.
Manu the Kiwi of Kindness
“Manu the Kiwi of Kindness” is a charming children’s book by Rosie Chenault. This story follows the adventures of Manu, a lovable kiwi bird, who spreads acts of kindness throughout New Zealand’s diverse landscapes.
This heartwarming story not only entertains but also instills important values of compassion, empathy, and cultural appreciation. Reading “Manu the Kiwi of Kindness” before traveling to New Zealand can help kids understand the significance of kindness in Kiwi culture and foster an appreciation for the welcoming and inclusive nature of the country.
The Great Kiwi ABC Book
“The Great Kiwi ABC Book” by Donovan Bixley is an educational children’s book that combines the alphabet with New Zealand’s unique culture, wildlife, and landscapes. Through vibrant illustrations and clever rhymes, it introduces young readers to the diverse aspects of Kiwi life.
Reading this book before traveling to New Zealand helps children become familiar with the country’s rich tapestry.
First to the Top: Sir Edmund Hillary’s Amazing Everest Adventure
“First to the Top: Sir Edmund Hillary’s Amazing Everest Adventure” is an inspiring children’s biography that recounts the remarkable journey of Sir Edmund Hillary. New Zealand’s most famous mountaineer conquered Mount Everest.
While this book is about a Kiwi but not about New Zealand, it can help children understand that the New Zealand terrain might inspire adventure! The book introduces young readers to the adventurous spirit and determination of a national hero.
Reading it before traveling to New Zealand can ignite children’s admiration for Sir Edmund Hillary and instill the values of perseverance and ambition. It’s a fantastic way to connect with New Zealand’s history and pride.
A Kiwi Year: 12 Months in the Life of New Zealand Kids
“A Kiwi Year: 12 Months in the Life of New Zealand Kids”, Tania McCartney is an informative book showcasing the everyday lives of New Zealand children throughout the year. It’s an excellent pre-travel read as it offers a glimpse into the local culture, traditions, and seasonal activities, helping kids connect with their Kiwi counterparts and anticipate their own experiences while exploring New Zealand.
Tama the Kiwi Tiki Tours New Zealand
“Tama the Kiwi Tiki Tours New Zealand” by Beks Bongiovanni is a charming book that follows Tama’s adventures in New Zealand’s diverse landscapes. It’s perfect pre-travel reading, introducing kids to the country’s unique wildlife and fostering an early love for Kiwi culture.
Canonball: A Fun Summertime Read About Believing in Yourself and Having Fun
“Cannonball” by Sacha Cotter is a fantastic pre-travel read for kids visiting New Zealand. The book tells the story of a young girl who embarks on a thrilling adventure across New Zealand, exploring its stunning landscapes and rich culture. Through vivid storytelling and delightful illustrations, it introduces children to the country’s beauty and the importance of conservation. Reading “Canonball” before the trip can spark kids’ excitement, help them connect with the environment, and foster an appreciation for New Zealand’s natural wonders and cultural heritage, enhancing their overall travel experience.
Bozo Goes to New Zealand
“Bozo Goes to New Zealand” by Maria M. Koretz is a wonderful pre-travel read for kids. This book follows Bozo, a curious character, on an exciting journey across New Zealand’s diverse landscapes and cultural treasures. With engaging storytelling and colorful illustrations, it introduces children to the country’s geography, unique wildlife, and Maori heritage. Reading it before the trip can ignite their curiosity, helping them anticipate their own adventures, and instill an appreciation for New Zealand’s natural and cultural wonders. It’s a fun and educational way to prepare kids for an enriching travel experience.
My First Words in Maori
“My First Words in Maori” by Staci Morrison is an excellent read for kids before visiting New Zealand. This book introduces basic Maori vocabulary through engaging visuals and simple language, helping children connect with the local culture and communicate effectively during their trip. It enhances their cultural understanding and promotes respect for the indigenous heritage they’ll encounter in New Zealand, creating a more immersive and respectful travel experience.
The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings
“The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien are set in Middle Earth rather than New Zealand. However, you can’t go far in New Zealand without stumbling across some of the stunning scenery from the movies. These books captivate young readers’ imaginations and provide a unique link to the country’s enchanting scenery. Reading them before the trip can inspire kids to explore the very places where these tales were brought to life, fostering a deeper connection with New Zealand’s natural beauty and cultural significance. It’s a way to make the journey even more magical and meaningful for young travelers.
Kiwi and Little Blue
“Kiwi and Little Blue: And What Makes a Bird a Bird” by Emily Brunner is a delightful book for kids before their New Zealand adventure. It tells a heartwarming story of friendship between a kiwi and a penguin, set against the backdrop of New Zealand’s unique environment. Reading it sparks kids’ curiosity about the country’s wildlife and landscapes, making their travel experience more exciting and educational. It instills an early love for nature and conservation, aligning perfectly with New Zealand’s commitment to environmental preservation.
Maori Wonders: Legends of New Zealand, by Ethan Braxton
“Maori Wonders: Legends of New Zealand” is a captivating book for kids before traveling to New Zealand. It shares fascinating Maori legends, connecting young readers with the rich cultural heritage of the country. Through vibrant storytelling and beautiful illustrations, it sparks children’s interest in Maori traditions and fosters an early appreciation for New Zealand’s diverse culture. Reading this book beforehand enhances their understanding of the indigenous people, making their journey more immersive and respectful, while igniting a sense of wonder about the stories and history they’ll encounter during their visit. It’s a valuable tool for pre-trip cultural education.
Eva the Adventurer by Elly Gedye
“Eva the Adventurer” by Elly Gedye is a great read for any traveling child! This book takes young readers on an exciting journey sharing Eva’s adventures and discoveries. With engaging storytelling and colorful illustrations, it introduces children to the beauty and adventure of worldwide travel. Reading it beforehand can ignite curiosity for travel and learning even if it isn’t purely about adventure in New Zealand!
Books to Prepare Your Child to Travel to New Zealand
These books are just some of the ways that we prepared our children for 5 weeks in New Zealand–a nation that is naturally enchanting with deep cultural roots.
Our children loved learning about the importance of heritage, conservation, and natural beauty. It was a great way to get them ready for our adventure!