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  • Published: 30 July 2007
  • ISBN: 9780143303459
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $19.99

Night Race to Kawau



An award-winning classic from the author of the Alex quartet.

For 40 years, this adrenaline-packed winner of the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book has been gripping Kiwi kids.


‘He’s not there, Mum. He’s fallen overboard.’

What started as an exciting challenge turns into a nightmare when a gale unexpectedly develops during the night race to Kawau Island. Sam and her mother suddenly find themselves in charge of their yacht with a dangerous task ahead of them. It is the early 1980s, and technology on the yacht is limited: they are on their own.

Will Sam be able to save her family?

  • Published: 30 July 2007
  • ISBN: 9780143303459
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Tessa Duder

Tessa Duder trained as a journalist and has published more than forty works of fiction and non-fiction for both children and adults, plays and anthologies. Her best-known work Alex (1987) was published in five languages and adapted for a 1993 movie. Her recent books include biographies of Margaret Mahy, Sir Peter Blake and Auckland’s pioneering ‘First Lady’ Sarah Mathew. Her latest is about the charting of New Zealand by James Cook and her four Alex books were in 2019 published as Alex the Quartet.

Her awards include a number of children’s fiction prizes, the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal (1996), the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship to Menton (2003), an Artists to Antarctica award (2007), the OBE (1994) and the CNZM (2021). She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato (2008) and won the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement (Fiction) in 2020. She serves on the board of the Storylines Children’s Literature Trust of New Zealand and was for twenty years a Trustee of the Spirit of Adventure Trust. She has four daughters and two grandchildren and lives in Devonport, Auckland, where she enjoys sailing, concert-going, teaching creative writing and reading. www.tessaduder.co.nz

Praise for Night Race to Kawau

Even the name is iconic: a book about an adventure at sea which became a Kiwi classic and launched the fiction-writing career of one of New Zealand's best-loved YA authors . . . As both a sailor and writer about sailing, I'm in awe of Duder's mastery in the yachting passages of the book: in the passages on the water, especially at night, her prose fully comes alive. . . . Night Race to Kawau has rightly become a classic, part of our nautical and literary heritage.

Sarah Ell, Sunday Star-Times

An adrenaline-packed story from the award-winning Kiwi author of the Alex quartet. I highly recommend it for all ages.

A Kiwi's Book Reviews

First published 40 years ago this gripping novel about a yachting race at night from Auckland to Kawau Island is as relevant today as it was back then . . . it is gripping reading. lots of sailing talk, family squabbles at a time when there were no cell phones or computers with all the characters challenged out of their comfort zones.

2/2/2022, Bobs Books

Night Race to Kawau is a story about trusting in yourself and others as well as learning to empathise and appreciate everyone. . . . This timeless book is a realistic fiction that portrays difficulties in a time of crisis and adapting as well as learning to work together as a team and to trust each other. This book is aimed at readers around 10+ years, as when you get older it has deeper meaning. The great portrayal of family dynamics and character development shown through the point of view of Sam, the oldest child, as she struggles to trust her mother and stay calm. The plot unfolds well, with a slow start then builds up pace through the middle until all is resolved. . . . I think this is a very good book. The suspense is well done, and it is interesting throughout. . . . Overall, I would recommend this book as it was relatively well paced and showed a great story about a Kiwi family learning to trust each other. I enjoyed reading it as it was quite an easy read but still gripping. A well written classic New Zealand story.

Thora aged 14, Hooked on Books

Awards & recognition

Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a much-loved book

Awarded  •  2005  •  Winner, Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award

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