Study up on New Zealand with these books, audiobooks, podcasts, films & TV shows

Embarking on a journey to New Zealand for the first time is an adventure like no other.

When you get here, you’ll find landscapes that inspire and a culture rich in stories.

So, why not start immersing yourself in the spirit of Aotearoa before you arrive?

From riveting books and audiobooks that capture the heart of our country, to podcasts that delve into our history and culture, along with films and TV shows that showcase our breathtaking scenery and talented storytellers, this curated list will help introduce you to the essence of our amazing country.

Whether you’re looking to get lost in a story, learn something new, or simply enjoy entertainment with a Kiwi twist, these selections will enrich your vacation and connect you to the land of the long white cloud.

Special thanks to the members of our Facebook group who shared their favourite books, films, shows and podcasts for this list.

A man's hand holding a book that's flicking open.
Photo: Ivan Radic.

Books by Kiwi authors or with New Zealand settings

Fiction books & Authors

Blood on Vines by Madeleine Eskedale

Dice by Claire Baylis

Here Upon the Tide by Blair McMillan

Better the Blood by Michael Bennett

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Bone People by Kerri Hulme

Plumb by Maurice Gee

Denniston Rose by Jenny Pattrick

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

Battle Cry by Leon Uris

Where the Rekohu Bone Sings by Tina Makereti

In the Land of the Long White Cloud by Sarah Lark

Come Ashore and We Will Kill You and Eat You All by Christina Thompson

The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox

Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame

Smith’s Dream by C.K. Stead

Season of the Jew by Maurice Shadbolt

The Colour by Rose Tremain

The Blue by Mary McCallum

The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon

The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey

Lost Wonders by Sarah Ell (also good for older children)

Deborah Challinor for New Zealand historical fiction

Barry Crump for funny Kiwi tales

Alan Duff for NZ fiction

Katherine Mansfield for short stories

Rosalind James for NZ romance

Janet Frame

Charity Norman

Joy Cowley for children’s fiction

Margaret Mahy for children’s fiction

Lynley Dodd for children’s fiction

The Wilson Sisters for horse-loving kids

Peter Gossage for Māori myths and legends for children

Non-fiction books

The Land of Doing Without: Davey Gunn of the Hollyford by Julia Bradshaw

Island of the Lost: An Extraordinary Story of Survival at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett

The Penguin History of New Zealand by Michael King

The Bookseller at the End of the World by Ruth Shaw (even better if purchased in Manapouri!)

Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail: The Diary of a Country Vet by Danielle Hawkins

Fungi of Aotearoa by Liv Sisson

The Meaning Of Trees by Robert Vennell

Protecting Paradise: 1080 and the Fight to Save New Zealand’s Wildlife by Dave Hansford

Uprising by Nic Low (retracing steps of Ngāi Tahu in Te Te Wai Pounamu)

To the Islands – Exploring, remembering, imagining the Hauraki Gulf by Kerry Howe

Wild Journeys by Bruce Nelson

A Bunk for the Night – a guide to New Zealand’s best backcountry huts by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown andGeoff Spearpoint

Michael King for NZ history

Dame Anne Salmond for NZ history

Joan Druett for NZ history (Tupaia)

NZ cook books

Julie Biuso

Annabel Langbein

Fleur Sullivan

Two Raw Sisters

Nadia Lim

Belinda MacDonald

Vanya Insull

Edmonds Cookery Book

Podcasts about New Zealand

History of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Aotearoa History Show

Black Sheep (real life historical crimes)

NUKU (Māori women)

Between Two Beers

The Citizens Handbook

The Aotearoa Adventures Podcast by Abigail Hannah

A database of New Zealand podcasts

Pro tip: We also recommend downloading Kruse GPS Travel Guide while travelling in New Zealand. This clever app lets you play your normal music, stopping to share commentary when you’re in an area with relevant information to share.

Movies & feature films set in Aotearoa New Zealand


Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Whale Rider

The Piano

Once Were Warriors

The Hobbit

Lord of the Rings

World’s Fastest Indian

Goodbye Pork Pie (the original)

Pork Pie (the remake)

River Queen

Rain of the Children

Kiwi Flyer

The Insatiable Moon

The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari

Kiwi Christmas

Footrot Flats

The Breaker Upperers

Second-Hand Wedding


Mt Zion


Ata Whenua – Shadowland (watch in Te Anau)

New Zealand TV shows

Wellington Paranormal

The Brokenwood Mysteries

Outrageous Fortune

The Almighty Johnsons

Coast New Zealand

Topp Country

Country Calendar

One Lane Bridge

The Billy T James Show

Billy Connolly’s World Tour of New Zealand

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted (New Zealand episodes)

Endangered Species Aotearoa

First Crossings

Flight of the Conchords

Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby

Shortland Street

800 Words

Griff’s Great Kiwi Road Trip

Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham (season 2)

Under The Vines

Border Patrol

Mt Hutt Rescue

Travelling to NZ for the first time?

Read this before your trip

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