Dr. Florence Owen is a well respected and highly regarded ornithologist. Her father Dr. Walter Owen used to be; he had a measure of fame for re-discovering a couple of previously thought extinct birds. Now he is a man obsessed. He is convinced – despite the entreaties of his daughter – of the continued existence of moa in the South Island. He puts together an expedition into the deepest wilds of the South Island and Florence is forced to go with him.
Also dragged along on the trek: Thomas, a grad student who has never left the city in his life and only volunteered because he is inches away from dropping out. The Millers, a father/daughter hunting team; a pair whose closeness reflects Florence’s estrangement from her own father. And Simon Samuels, an overly friendly DoC worker tagging along as he goes about his own errands.
What they find hidden deep in the bush surprises them all: a clutch of live moa eggs and fresh moa prints. It’s the find of a lifetime; possibly of the century. Florence can hardly believe it; dares not to almost. If they can get just one egg back to civilisation, Walter's obsession will be vindicated and his place in popular history secure.
But finding the moa eggs proves to be the easiest part of the expedition. It’s the return journey that could be killer. The small team will have to contend with the elements, one another and the murderous return of the largest flightless bird to ever stalk the earth. There'll blood on beaks and screams in the wind before they get home. And they'll all learn an important lesson:
Don’t mess with mama moa.