The Ghosts on the Hill

You won’t be able to avoid the hills forever,’ says Mr James.
‘I know,’ says Elsie. ‘One day I’ll have to go over the Bridle Path again.’

The year is 1884. The place is Lyttelton, a small and bustling harbour town. Elsie is waiting for the fish to bite. She has her reasons for coming down to the waterfront so often, the main one being the memory of the lost boys. She was one of the last to see them alive, and now she is haunted by what happened to them.

When the opportunity comes for Elsie to follow in their footsteps over the Bridle Path, and put their ghosts to rest, she doesn’t hesitate. ‘I’ll be careful,’ she says. But no one knows that the weather is about to change for the worse.

Written by Bill Nagelkerke

$22.00 incl. GST

1 in stock

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For readers 8–13 years with B&W illustrations.


The sound of the putōrino.
She knows that the fairies play those flutes. They are coming for her. Why else would she hear the music they make? Elsie has become frozen by fear. She can’t move now, even if she wants to. What will the patupaiarehe do to her? Where will they take her? It’s not likely to be to a friendly place, warmed by Tamatea’s magic fire. More likely, it will be to an even colder place of rock and ice and water.
The music of the pipe is really close now. Elsie wraps her arms around herself. The fog forms into long tentacles that stretch out to embrace
her. Vague shapes only, yet surely they are the clutching hands of the patupaiarehe…
Elsie screams and now she begins to run, no longer thinking or even caring about the hillside dangers that surround her. But there is no escape. The patupaiarehe have her in their clutches.


Best Friends are Books ~ I loved this story as an adult and I know I would have loved it as a kid. Growing up in Christchurch I studied the early settlers in primary school and even had a field trip walking over the Bridle Path to Lyttelton. The places in the story are so familiar to me yet quite different, given the time that the story is set. You don’t need to be familiar with the setting though to appreciate the story. The fact that the story is inspired by real events makes a chill go down my spine and loads of kids love spooky stories. Bill includes newspaper clippings from 1883 in the story and details of the real events in his author’s note.

NZ Booklovers ~ The Ghosts on the Hill is a brilliant book from one of New Zealand’s great storytellers, weaving fact and fiction into a ghost story full of courage. Read the full review.

Teaching notes

About the Kiwi author

Bill NagelkerkeA former children’s librarian, Bill Nagelkerke has written short stories, poems, plays and books for all ages, as well as translating other people’s books from Dutch into English. He has won the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award, and The Ghosts on the Hill (2020) was a Storylines Notable Book and joint winner of the 2021 Storylines What Now Kids’ Pick Award. Find out more on his author page.


Additional information

Dimensions18.5 × 12 cm
First published



Paperback edition



Page count


Published by

Ahoy! (an imprint of The Cuba Press)


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