Whether you are planning a trip to New Zealand with kids or just want to learn more about New Zealand culture and life, you’ll definitely want to pick up a few of these New Zealand children’s books. Scroll to see them all!
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Last year, my family had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand and it honestly blew our minds! In fact, my husband even semi-seriously looked into moving there!
One of our favorite moments was visiting Santa at Smith & Caughey’s in downtown Auckland. Every Christmas, they have a magical display window outside the department store showcasing a Christmas story.
It was so interesting to see how New Zealanders see Santa compared to here in the United States.
That got us curious to check out what types of children’s books about New Zealand might make good souvenirs or New Zealand picture books we could order once we got home (to save us suitcase space!)
These are my top picks for New Zealand children’s books that would be a great addition to any children’s library.
18 New Zealand Children’s Books to Read with Your Kids
1. New Zealand: Travel for Kids
If you are planning a New Zealand family vacation, you’ll definitely want to order a copy of this book before you go. It’s a great way to get an overview of New Zealand’s history, culture, geography, flags/symbols, wildlife, and more!
You’ll get to see unique New Zealand landmarks and find out tasty foods to try on your trip.
Younger kids will appreciate meeting Jack and Dinobibi, a friendly dinosaur who loves going on adventures.
It’s also a great homeschooling resource to learn about New Zealand. There are facts and quizzes and it would be an interesting book to read and then have your kids plan an imaginary trip to New Zealand with the information they learned in this book.
Buy New Zealand: Travel for Kids on Amazon
2. Inky the Octopus: Bound for Glory
If your kids love animals (especially sea creatures), you’ll want to grab a copy of Inky the Octopus. The coolest part about this book is that it’s based on the real-life escape of Inky and other octopi from the National Aquarium of New Zealand to the open ocean in 2016.
This rhyming book is perfect for kids ages 4 and up who want to learn more about aquatic animals and want to go on an undersea adventure.
Inky lives at the aquarium but he dreams of being free to swim around the open sea. So, he daringly squeezes out of his tank through a tiny drain hole and reaches the ocean. There are lots of interesting facts about octopi along the way.
This book won the Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year and is a Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award Winner.
Buy Inky the Octopus: Bound for Glory on Amazon
3. I Made You A Cuddle
While I Made You A Cuddle isn’t a New Zealand travel book for kids, it does provide a sense of New Zealand family life and values. Even the word “cuddle” is a term most Americans don’t use on a daily basis.
Kids will appreciate seeing how people can make a cuddle and share it with friends and family. It’s a beautiful concept and this sweet book would make a great baby shower gift or Christmas present for kids.
This is a New Zealand bestselling children’s book that you’ll want to include in your bedtime routine and is surely to be a treasured book.
Buy I Made You A Cuddle on Amazon
4. Manu the Kiwi of Kindness
The most famous bird in New Zealand is the Kiwi. You’ll see it on all kinds of New Zealand souvenirs and you can even see them in person across the country.
This New Zealand kids book has an uplifting message of how we can all make a big difference if we just spread a little kindness. And how spreading kindness can actually be a talent.
It’s an engaging, magical story with beautiful illustrations and a rhythmic story that young children will love. It might soon become their favorite book!
Plus, your family will learn a lot about the New Zealand kiwi bird.
Buy Manu the Kiwi of Kindness on Amazon
5. Koko and the Great Bear
Written by the same author as Manu the Kiwi of Kindness, Koko and the Great Bear is another fantastic New Zealand children’s book with a great message.
Koko is on a journey to become the chief of his tribe. But, in order to become chief, he must got on an adventure and learn to overcome his fear.
This book has a heartwarming message about finding courage within yourself in order to reach your dreams. And it’s also beautifully written and illustrated.
Buy Koko and the Great Bear on Amazon
6. The Great Kiwi ABC Book
If you are looking for a New Zealand book for babies and toddlers, you’ll want to order a copy of The Great Kiwi ABC Book. This board book gives a cute introduction to young kids about everything New Zealand.
Donovan Bixley is a well-known illustrator who has published more than 90 children’s books. And this ABC book is super adorable.
It has a bunch of New Zealand-specific characters, like the All Black lambs. Kids and adults will love the brightly colored illustrations.
And there’s so much to look at on every page that your kids won’t get board reading it again and again (and again!)
Buy the Great Kiwi ABC Book on Amazon
7. Rata and the Waka: A Tale from New Zealand
One of the most important types of travel books we can give our children are about indigenous cultures. And the New Zealand Maori people have a long, fascinating history and rich culture.
One of the best children’s books about Maori culture is Rata and the Waka. It’s the retelling of a well-known, traditional story plus they have information pages about New Zealand and Maori culture.
This is the type of book that you could easily incorporate in a homeschooling unit about New Zealand, Polynesian culture, or stories from around the world. Or, it would be great to read before a trip to New Zealand to give your kids a brief look at Maori culture.
It can be tricky to find Maori books for kids, so you’ll want to snap this one up!
Buy Rata and the Waka: A Tale from New Zealand on Amazon
8. New Zealand ABCs
If you are looking for a first book about New Zealand for babies, toddlers, or preschoolers, this one might fit the bill. It provides facts about the people and place in New Zealand, without being overly wordy.
It’s an alphabet book that has a nice mix of New Zealand words/terms and words your kids will already be familiar with.
And your kids will get a peek inside this incredible country and learn a few Maori words, see the geography, learn a bit of New Zealand history, discover unique New Zealand animals, and more.
It’s actually part of a series, so if you like this one, you might want to pick up a few of the other countries they feature.
Buy New Zealand ABCs on Amazon
9. New Zealand (a Country Explorers book)
If you are looking for a book about New Zealand facts for kids, this one does a great job of providing a ton of information in a way that resonates with school-age kids. Plus there are tons of great photos!
Inside this New Zealand children’s book, you’ll get to learn about volcanoes, fjords, unique New Zealand animals (like the kiwi bird), see a rugby game, and find out what a hangi feast entails.
There’s also a section with statistics about the New Zealand population, information about the capital, and photos of the New Zealand flag.
Buy New Zealand (a Country Explorers book) on Amazon
10. First to the Top: Sir Edmund Hillary’s Amazing Everest Adventure
While this book doesn’t really take place in New Zealand, it features one of the most well-known explorers from New Zealand: Sir Edmund Hillary.
There are tons of places in New Zealand that highlight his incredible adventure, so it’s worth talking to your kids about him before they visit New Zealand.
This is the story of Sir Edmund Hillary and how he went from a shy boy in a little New Zealand town to the most famous mountain climber who scaled the world’s tallest mountain: Mount Everest.
The message of this New Zealand picture book is that people can do incredible things if they put in the hard work and dream big.
Buy First to the Top on Amazon
11. A Kiwi Year: Twelve Months in the Life of New Zealand’s Kids
When we traveled to New Zealand at Christmas, my kids were very concerned that Santa wouldn’t be able to find them. And they asked me if Santa comes to New Zealand like he comes to the United States.
A Kiwi Year: Twelve Months in the Life of New Zealand’s Kids is a fascinating look into what life is like for New Zealand families every month of the year.
This is part of the A Kids’ Year series and features a group of multicultural New Zealand kids to give an insider view of what it’s like to grow up in New Zealand.
In this book, your kids will learn about holidays, celebrations, traditions, events, and everyday life in New Zealand.
While this is a fun book to learn more about New Zealand, it’s especially awesome for those planning a family vacation to New Zealand. Then, your kids can see and participate in the activities mentioned in the book. And they will even learn a few local words they can try out when they get to New Zealand!
Buy A Kiwi Year on Amazon
12. Yosif Travel Books for Kids – New Zealand
As soon as I realized this book was written by a 6 year old kid from New Zealand, I knew I had to add it to the list. My kids love being inspired by other kids who are accomplishing big things at an early age.
This book is geared for kids who are going on a New Zealand vacation and want to know a bit more about this incredible island country.
But mostly, it’s a travel guide for kids by a kid. Your family will learn about New Zealand history, geography, flags, symbols, culture, and kid-friendly things to do in New Zealand.
Buy Yosif Travel Books for Kids – New Zealand on Amazon
13. Tama the Kiwi Tiki Tours New Zealand
Our family loves books that inspire our kids to travel the world. Tama the Kiwi is a super cute character that goes on an incredible adventure around New Zealand in this beautiful picture book.
It’s a fun story to read to babies and toddlers. And it’s a nice book for kids just learning how to read.
It’s a rhyming story that takes kids on a journey to see farms, beaches, lighthouse, natural wonders, and places that make New Zealand such a special place.
Buy Tama the Kiwi Tiki Tours New Zealand on Amazon
You know the old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover?” I’m so glad that’s not the case for this awesome Maori book for kids!
Representation in kid lit is so important and I love that this fun story features a young Maori boy trying to do something on most kids’ summer bucket lists: perfecting the cannonball!
This story has a great message about the importance of being yourself, dealing with failure and unsolicited advice, and how to overcome your fears to accomplish your goals.
Plus, the illustrations are gorgeous. They are so vivid and colorful that your kids will be totally immersed into this world.
What’s extra cool about this New Zealand kids book is that it incorporates a few Maori words very naturally into the story. Oh, and it was an Amazon Best Book of the Month!
Buy Cannonball on Amazon
15. Bozo Goes to New Zealand
If you are looking for a lighthearted book about a tiger who likes to travel the world, this one is perfect for bedtime reading. It’s part of a series where Bozo visits different countries of the world by taking his magic carpet from his home in the United States.
Like the name implies, this book focuses on New Zealand.
In this new adventure, Bozo meets Kiku, a New Zealand kea bird who shows him all over New Zealand. They develop a friendship and share a meal together before Bozo returns home.
This is actually a great book to read while you are unable to travel because the main message of this story is that while it’s fun to travel the world, sometimes it’s best to be home with friends and family.
Buy Bozo Goes to New Zealand on Amazon
16. Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland
A popular way to see New Zealand is by cruising around the country. This book is all about a couple of kids who stop in Auckland and get off their cruise ship to explore the city.
While I don’t encourage my kids to go off exploring a city by themselves and meet strangers in real life, it’s a great storytelling tactic that lets kids feel like they are going on an adventure in the safety of our home!
If your family has traveled to Auckland, you’ll recognize Sky Tower and the adorable hop-on, hop-off buses that traverse the city.
This is part of a series where Maya and Flippo discover ports of call all over the world and spread their positive attitude to the places they visit. It’s also a Mom’s Choice Award Winner!
Buy Maya & Flippo Make Friends in Auckland on Amazon
17. My First Words in Maori
While a lot of people might feel like they know a bit about Maori culture if they’ve seen a video of a Haka dance performed before a football game or rugby match, they probably haven’t heard much of the language.
When we were in New Zealand, I was really impressed with how many Maori words are seamlessly part of everyday life. You’ll see them in city names, streets, and in common language.
My First Words in Maori is a pretty picture book that uses both Maori and English words to label the pictures (which is super helpful as a non-Maori speaker.)
This is a fun book to read on the airplane ride to New Zealand, or simply to expose your kids to another language.
Buy My First Words in Maori on Amazon
18. How Maui Slowed the Sun: Tales From Aotearoa
One of the most incredible things about Polynesian mythology is how some stories have traveled thousands of miles to other Polynesian islands. This is one of them.
I actually grew up thinking this was a Hawaiian story until I got older and realized similar stories about Maui can be found all across Polynesia.
Chances are, your kids are already familiar with the Polynesian demi-god Maui. I mean, he’s one of the main characters in Disney’s Moana!
This traditional Maori story includes a few humorous pictures by popular illustrator Donovan Bixley while still keeping true to the original story about how Maui slowed the journey of the sun each day.Buy How Maui Slowed the Sun on Amazon