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High Tide


Fast paced adventure for teens. This is a story that you simply can't put down.

When it comes to life and death, do any of us know how we will behave? 


Sam signs up for a hiking trip – or, rather, someone else signs her up. But she goes along for a laugh. Only, laughs is the opposite of how things turn out.


Coastal New Zealand provides the setting for a summer hiking trip. The tail-end of a tropical cyclone provides the impetus for things to spiral out of control. After the shocking discovery of just how fast and how badly things can go wrong, Samantha, Jake and Cornelius go for help – but nothing is ever that easy. And, it turns out, no one is quite who they thought they were. Maybe that's lucky. Maybe it changes us forever.


"The night before we left, my parents started in on all the good advice they could think of. I half-listened to most of it, nodding dutifully and wishing they'd give it a rest. As it turned out, they didn't come remotely close to the stuff that really would have been useful. But then they couldn't know any better than the rest of us what we'd really be up against."

Story behind the story


My first novel, High Tide, grew out of a family holiday. It was mid-summer and we were travelling north to a tiny and isolated beach where we spent a week or two every summer. It should have been hot and still; perfect weather for swimming, boarding, BBQs and beach cricket. Instead the tail-end of a tropical cyclone blew in. As we drove we were lashed by rain; when we hit the coast we were met by waves crashing up against the road; there were slips all over the place and the electricity lines were down.


‘Not quite what we were hoping for,’ I thought, ‘but at least we’ll be out of the weather. Unless… what if we can’t get to the house? Heck, what if we were camping?! What if…’

And those ‘what if’s became the basis for the novel.


On one level it’s a simple story – teens on a hiking trip get caught out by just the same kind of adverse weather event we faced but, for them, things rapidly spiral out of control. Our lives are never lived on just one level though. Looking deeper, High Tide is about how we respond in a crisis, what we do when it turns out we’re not the hero we might have imagined; how we can be surprised by who copes and who doesn’t.


I was also interested in just how far it’s possible to push ourselves when the stakes are high, and what the cost of that push is somewhere further down the track.


It’s a novel that is often taught in schools, a distinctly New Zealand story but one that has universal relevance. The third edition has been edited slightly – I just couldn’t help myself – but only so that the power of the story shines even more brightly.

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Published 2003

Cover image for Anna Mackenzie's High Tide

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What the Reviewers Say


‘This is great. Mackenzie has a terrific feeling for dramatic pace, and for the emotional and physical landscape her beleaguered teens are stumbling through.’

- Margie Thomson, NZ Herald


'High Tide is a blood rushing, jaw dropping survival book that will keep you on the edge of your seat.'

- Tilyam,


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Awards & Nominations


CLF/Storylines Notable Book 2004

Teaching Notes


There are comprehensive Teaching Notes available for all of Anna's books.



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