Night Tribe

Twelve-year-old Toby and his sister Millie, fourteen, are tramping the Heaphy Track with their mother when they go off-track to find an old surveyor’s hut their grandfather used.

When their mother breaks her leg in a hidden hole the kids must head  back to fetch help. They spend some nights alone, hungry and lost.  So far, so ordinary, but there is something strange about the cave they’ve sort shelter in.

A strange little woman emerges and draws them in with the promise of food and shelter. They enter an underground cavern that is deeper than they first thought and where a whole tribe lives. These people believe in natural law, not human law, and have deliberately hidden away from humans believing that here they can survive a total war or pandemic.

The kids are intrigued by the techniques this strange people have used to survive but this is tempered by the growing realisation that the Tribe don’t want them to leave…

Written by Peter Butler

$25.00 incl. GST

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Read NZ School Library ~ Night Tribe is set on and around the Heaphy Track. The author, Peter Butler, is an experienced outdoorsman, and his knowledge gives the descriptions of the landscape a rich level of detail. This is a land that is alive with native plants and creatures (and some not so native). It is also a hostile environment, and the children’s struggles in the great outdoors make for excellent, tense reading.

However, the underground world that Mollie and Toby find (and its inhabitants) are what make this novel unique. Though the folk living there are described as human, and Butler grounds their story in New Zealand history, there remains something fantastical about them. This blend of fantasy and adventure gives the novel the feel of classic children’s literature, where magical worlds mix with our own, and young people see things that adults never can.

This is an enjoyable read, and its fast pace, simple characters, and action-packed plot will likely make it popular with reluctant readers.

Read the first chapter.

About the Kiwi author

Peter Butler is the author of two non-fiction titles: Opium & Gold, the story of the early Chinese goldminers in NZ and Life & Times of Te Rauparaha – the story of the famous warrior as told by his son Tamihana. His first novel, Gravel Roads, was published in 2010 and was well reviewed. He lived for many years on a bush block near the Heaphy Track, and still has a farm there growing horopito commercially, though he now lives in Nelson. His first job in the Bay was working on the Heaphy Track for the Forest Service, so he knows it well. He also knows what native flora and fauna can be used for – information which is incorporated into this story. He is the Chair of the Farewell Wharariki Health Post Nature Trust, helping to restore 12,000 hectares at the north-western tip of the South Island.

Additional information

First published



Paperback edition



Page count


Published by

One Tree House

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