A Runner’s Guide to Rakiura: A Novel

Jessica Howland Kany



A sweeping tale of romance, adventure and treasure … Moby Dick meets Treasure Island in the 21st century

“A Millennial New Yorker, a Stewart Island fisherman, and a WW II veteran walk into a bar…”

Maudie’s on the run – from New York and from her past – but she runs headlong into her future when she ends up on Rakiura Stewart Island on assignment to cover Aotearoa New Zealand’s southernmost running trails. Or, as her new fisherman friend Vil puts it:  “Giving brainless bucket-listers hard-ons for islands like mine.”
She quickly becomes absorbed into island life and once she hears tales of buried treasure, Maudie embarks on a dogged pursuit of the truth, increasingly hooked by gossipy hints. Clues and waypoints are buried in old SINs (Stewart Island News) and pieces of the puzzle are scrawled on buoys washed up on the pages.
Maudie doesn’t cut a convincing detective figure. She’s an erratic, impulsive, semi-alcoholic millennial, but nothing breaks her stride as she wades into the world of laconic locals and dune grass politics.
Welcome to a tale of romance, adventure, and a treasure hunt which will take you through decades and landscapes, from the beaches of Rakiura Stewart Island to the battlefield of Monte Cassino, to postwar Paris, to the Twin Towers rebuild.
Vast and sweeping in scope, this brilliant debut novel is braided with stories of love and war, loss, relationships, island lore, and the joys of running.  A Runner’s Guide to Rakiura is also playful, funny, and romantic, and like any good treasure hunt, there will be reckonings, redemptions, and yes… there will be treasure.

Additional information

Weight 0.9 kg
Dimensions 15.3 × 23.4 cm

About the Author

Jessica Howland Kany was born on Manhattan Island (NYC) and now resides on another extraordinary island: Rakiura Stewart Island, New Zealand. She has lived there since 2002, editing the Stewart Island News (SIN) since 2005. Between island lives, she graduated from Washington University in St Louis, Missouri; lived in San Francisco; wrote for the Jackson Hole News in Jackson, Wyoming; and worked at the Lahaina Library in Maui, Hawaii. On Rakiura she has worked at the pub, the post office/flight centre and is “desk crew” for her fisherman husband. Other hats include librarian, rat trapper, trail runner, “Foveaux foodie”, artichoke enthusiast, and running a myths & legends club for kids. Her writing has appeared in Running Times, North & South, New Zealand Geographic, New Zealand Gardener, Sky & Telescope, Wilderness Magazine, and The Island Review. Besides boogie-boarding with her boys, her favourite pastime is splitting wood. Rakiura birds hold a special place in Jessica’s heart and she hopes this book inspires readers to donate to the Rakiura Stewart Island Community & Environment Trust or the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust.
www.yellow-eyedpenguin.org.nz; www.sircet.org.nz

Look Inside

Click HERE to read a sample of A RUNNER’S GUIDE TO RAKIURA.


ISBN: 9780995143852

Author: Jessica Howland Kany

Pages: 424

Dimensions: 234 x 153mm

Format: Limp bound

Published: October 2022


A Runner’s Guide to Rakiura is a romance crammed with over-the-top true-to-life characters. The writing and structure are daring. The sly references to Moby Dick and things nautical are an underlayer for thorough enjoyment. Very satisfying story-telling.”
– Barbara Else

“The language sings and whispers, digging you in the ribs so that you burst out laughing, clogging your throat with tears… A novel which has touched my heart and which I know will stay with me for a very long time.”
– Paddy Richardson

“A festival of plot, story and wonderful writing.”
– Patrick Evans

“Stewart Island is host to a playful novel …  An ambitious debut … The natural world plays a pivotal part in the story … A breath of fresh air.”

Rebecca Styles, NZ Listener

“The richness of the content, the great stable of characters … And of course, the hope of finding buried treasure, made reading this novel entertaining and a pleasure all the way.”

Dr. Bronwyn Elsmore, Flaxroots