New Zealand

New Zealand is fascinating and totally unique in the world!

Location

New Zealand is located approximately 1,500km east of Australia and about 1,000km from the Pacific Islands. Due to its relative remoteness and being water locked, New Zealand was one of the last countries to be found and settled.

NATIVE GROUPS


Today, of the 4.4 million New Zealanders (informally known as Kiwis), approximately 69% are of European descent, 14.6% are indigenous Māori, 9.2% Asian and 6.9% non-Māori Pacific Islanders.

Population


  • 4.5 million inhabitants, of which 1/3 lives in the exciting and most vibrant metropolis: Auckland, which you can check out on Auckland Tours
  • NZ is multicultural as many Kiwis are either immigrants or their descendants
  • First settlers were the Maori, followed by large numbers of immigrants from the United Kingdom, people from neighbouring Pacific Islands including Samoa and Tonga, Chinese and Korean migrants, and new residents from a wide range of countries such as the US, South Africa, Zimbabwe and India.
  • Modern, secular, democratic society, with no ingrained class system
  • Freedom of speech, expression and religious beliefs are guaranteed by law and widely practiced
  • Favorite sports include rugby, cricket, hiking, kayaking, fishing, white-water rafting, football, basketball and skiing

Flag

The flag of New Zealand has been in its current form since 1902 and because of New Zealand's British ties, is the British Blue Ensign with four stars representing the Southern Cross. The Southern Cross are the four brightest stars in the sky over New Zealand. In recent years, a change of flag has been debated with the popular black flag with a silver fern being one of the more popular choices. This unofficial New Zealand flag is often seen when Kiwis are on the world stage in sporting events.
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Weather


  • Varies greatly throughout the country
  • It could be sunny and warm on the East Coast, while pouring with rain on the West Coast
  • Four seasons in one day is not that unusual
  • For example Auckland has 265 days of sunshine per year
  • Range of temperatures between winter and summer is less extreme than in most countries
  • Maximum temperature during summer ranges between 20-30°C (68-86OF)
  • In winter, the average maximum temperature ranges between 10-15°C (50-59OF). The northern half of the North Island is the warmest part of the country throughout the year, which is perfect for outdoor activities

Travel

  • New Zealand is a popular summer destination, both for overseas and domestic visitors. This is partly due to the fascinating Maori culture, amazing scenery and also the huge success of the films "The Lord of the Rings" and the upcoming "The Hobbit"
  • Summer and winter temperatures vary by only 10ºC to 15ºC in most of the country, making New Zealand an ideal holiday destination year-round
  • Best travel times are the warmer high-season months (November to April)
  • Summer (December to February) is the best time for food and wine festivals, concerts and sports events in the main cities like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch
  • June to August is skiing high season
  • Similar to Australia, try to avoid school holidays (particularly mid-December to late January) and public holidays if possible
  • The cooler, less touristy ‘shoulder’ periods (October/November and April/May) are a great time of year to travel
  • You need to be well prepared for all weather conditions when traveling through NZ, as weather can change quickly

New Zealand Governance

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy under England and while the Queen is the head of state, New Zealand effectively governs itself through its parliamentary system with a Prime Minister. The public votes every three years which often sees a change in government. The two main political parties are the National Party and the Labour Party. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote in 1893.

FACTS

  • Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not have any dangerous or poisonous animals (with the one tiny exception of the Katipo Spider);
  • In NZ you will hear the word “Kiwi” quite a lot – on the one hand there is the native flightless bird and the Kiwi Fruit but on the other hand it is also used as a slang term for a New Zealander
  • New Zealand was the first major nation to have universal suffrage - In 1893 it became legal for all male and female citizens of New Zealand to vote
  • New Zealand is one of only three countries that have two official (and of equal standing) national Anthems. The first is God Save the Queen (the English National Anthem) and the other is God Defend New Zealand. The other two countries with two anthems are Denmark and Canada which both have a Royal Anthem and a State anthem.
  • Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world and is also known as “the city of sails”. It has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world
  • Wellington, the Capital City of New Zealand, is the southernmost capital city in the world
  • New Zealand is a plastic nation – many personal financial transactions are made with a card – credit or otherwise. Most shops offer EFTPOS (similar to the UK Chip and Pin which appeared two years later) and cash is seen less and less. So ensure you bring a credit card to NZ if possible.
  • New Zealand was the last major landmass to be populated (with the exception of the polar regions)
  • Sir Edmund Hillary – the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest (with his climbing partner Tenzing Norgay) was a New Zealander (born in Auckland) and his face is on the New Zealand $5 bill

IMPORTANT CITIES

  • Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand.
  • Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.
  • Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island.
  • Hamilton.
  • Tauranga.
  • Napier.
  • Hastings.
  • Panorama of Dunedin.

Flora and Fauna

You will find a very unique range of flora and fauna in New Zealand. The native animal, bird and plant species are among some of the most beautiful in the world.

There are many national parks, native forests, walking tracks and maritime reserves to be enjoyed. In addition to these, there are a number of glaciers, lakes, mountains, beaches and thermal reserves, also on offer for tourists and travellers alike

LANGUAGES

English is the universal language, although Maori, a language of the Polynesian group, still is spoken among the Maori population and is taught in Maori schools. It is the first language of about 50,000 Maori New Zealanders and became an official language (with English) in 1987, with the right of use in courts of law and before a number of tribunals. There are Maori-language preschools, immersion primary schools, and many radio stations.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

New Zealand draws many thousands of tourists to its shores because of the beauty, diversity, and compactness of its natural attractions and its varied sporting facilities. There are 14 national parks; of these, Fiordland is the largest, with some portions still unexplored. Te Urewera, noted for its forests and bird life, is the park in which early Maori culture is most strongly preserved; Tongariro includes two active volcanoes and is an important ski resort; and Mount Cook National Park includes Tasman Glacier, the largest glacier outside the polar regions. New Zealand has numerous thermal spas, particularly in the Rotorua area, which also offers Maori villages where traditional arts and crafts may be observed. The Waitomo Cave, on the North Island, is lit by millions of glowworms and may be toured all year. Lake Taupo and its streams form one of the world's richest trout fishing areas; Christchurch is home to one of the world's finest botanical gardens. Skiing is available on both the North and South Islands, and good deep-sea fishing along the North Island coast. New Zealand has first-class golf courses. Spectator sports include horse racing, football (soccer), cricket, and rugby.

FOOD

With more than 14,000 kilometres of coastline, New Zealand is home to some amazing seafood.


Roat Lamb

Succulent and tender, roast lamb is a Kiwi favourite. New Zealand lamb is held in high esteem throughout the world and is one of the country’s top export meats. Best enjoyed flavoured with rosemary and plenty of seasonal veggies, roast lamb is a meal that is sure to impress.


Maori hangi

The hangi was the most widely used method of cooking by Maori for more than 2000 years. Now saved mainly for special occasions, foods cooked in a hangi include chicken, pork and mutton, as well as various vegetables.

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