In the summer of 1932, 13-year-old Kate (Greer Robson) runs away in search of her father. A bond of friendship develops when she meets Patrick, who's on the run from the police.
It is 1930. The Great Depression has spread far afield from its Wall Street beginnings to wreck havoc on rural New Zealand.
The land is rich but the money has gone. Farmers who can afford it are living off their savings but others have already been forced off the land and they, and their workers, have become itinerants - searching for work of any kind.
In the central South Island, against this bleak backdrop, Dave Marshall has been forced to leave his home and young daughter Kate to find work in one of the large North Island cities.
Kate's mother is dead and she must live with her aunt and uncle, attending a school she can't stand, until her father is ready to take care of her again.
As things become worse, Kate decides to take matters into her own hands. She runs away to join her father up north.
But despite Kate's strong will and self reliance, the road isn't the safest place for a young runaway. There are too many questions and too many people ready to rip you off.
So when Kate meets Patrick (PETER PHELPS), who saves her from a potentially nasty fate after she is caught stealing fruit from an orchard, she becomes his wise-cracking, ever-present shadow. As far as she's concerned it's a partnership.
But Patrick sees if differently. He, too, is on the run but this time it's from the law and he doesn't need some smart alec kid weighing him down.
Until, that is, someone mistakes them for brother and sister and Patrick realises that there maybe is an advantage in a team-up after all. He figures he can use Kate as temporary cover, throw the police off his trail, and make good his escape.
But gradually a bond of friendship develops between the unlikely pair and they stay on the road together. With the help of sympathetic people along the way, a dramatic series of narrow escapes keeps them one step ahead of the law until, it would appear, their luck runs out...