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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

Here was a novel written with such power and authority, such authenticity and credibility that it ranked as one of the finest first novels by a New Zealand writer . . . This is compelling reading. The very texture of the prose reveals the sailor's knowledge and feel for yachts and the sea. The writer's skill has convincingly conveyed the terror and the tension involved in such an accident.

Tom Fitzgibbon, Beneath Southern Skies

I went on to read many more of your books and short stories, and was amazed at how you could tackle so many different topics, seemingly with ease. I especially loved your sailing themed stories. “Night Race to Kawau” is still a favourite, not forgotten!

Paula Green, Poetry Box

Tessa's style of writing is eminently readable, and it could just have easily been left to a slim creative non-fiction volume, sans illustrations. I have always loved Tessa's work, from my first read of Alex and Night Race to Kawau in Year 6 through to many, many re-reads of the Tiggie Tompson trilogy as a teen (and, admittedly, as a twenty-something too). She weaves what could be dry and fact focused into a narrative that makes for a compelling read, and her own experience as a sailor is clear in her easy weaving in of shipshape terminology.

Briar Lawry, The Sapling

Awards & recognition

Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a much-loved book

Awarded  •  2005  •  Winner, Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award

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