Ethan and his sister Amy are travelling by ship from England with their mother Charlotte, to join their father, who has gone ahead of them to establish the family farm. A storm hits, their vessel begins to take on water, and the captain issues the order to abandon ship. Meg, a young thief, is lowered into the lifeboat along with Ethan and Amy. A freak wave washes the life-boat away from the ship. The children wake on a wild shore and begin the battle for survival. Meg is captured by a Maori raiding party and makes contact with a young Maori slave, Tama. After being caught up in armed conflict between Maori and European forces the four children decide to band together to make an epic journey.