is a temperate to sub-tropical island nation in the South Pacific Ocean.
A former British colony, the majority of the population is of European descent, with a sizeable indigenous Maori minority and smaller minorities of various Polynesian and other groups.
A modern but sparsely populated country, it boasts natural beauty and a wide range of outdoor and adventure activities.Regions
New Zealand consists of two main islands and a number of smaller ones.North Island – Warm, with scenery ranging from sandy beaches, through rolling farmland and forests to active volcanic peaks.South Island – Spectacular mountains and fjords, large beech forests, beautiful beaches.Stewart Island – heavily forested, a wilderness paradise for trampers with wonderful bird song. Only place to a see a sun-bathing (feathered) kiwi on Masons Beach!Chatham IslandsSub-Antarctic Islands – Very difficult to get to unless you're on a scientific expedition or deep sea fishing vesselCities
It's the country that's magnificent in New Zealand and we only list some
of the most prominent. Here they are from north to south:
North Island:Auckland — "The City of Sails." The largest and most populated city, with over a million in the metropolitan area, making it the largest city in Polynesia by far.Gisborne — the easternmost town, Gisborne sees each day's light first in the world.Tauranga - Known for its great weather, sun and beach Tauranga is a great holiday spot.Rotorua — Famous for Maori culture, geysers, hot pools and that funny (Sulphur Dioxide) rotten egg smell.Wellington — the national capital — Parliament and the Beehive and the wonderful, free Te Papa museum. "The Windy City".
South Island:Nelson — Safe and friendly, with New Zealand's highest sunshine hours. Nelson is the geographic centre of the country and surrounded by THREE stunning national parks, vineyards and orchards Christchurch — The Garden City and the Air Gateway to Antarctica.Queenstown — Adrenalin and adventure capital of the world… skydive, bungee-jump, jet-boat, thrill yourself to your hearts content.Dunedin — the Edinburgh of the South. Proud of its Scots heritage, chocolate factory, Southern Albatross colony and its wonderful tramping tracks within a short drive from the CDB. Invercargill — the southernmost city and one of the very few places to see a living :Wikipedia:Tuatara|Tuatara.Other destinations
Havelock North, a great base for exploring the Hawkes Bay wineries. and home to Te Mata peak.Hokianga - wild, beautiful, bi-culturalElsthorpe - in Hawkes Bay is a beautiful country settlementFeilding - voted New Zealand's most beautiful town 12 times in a rowOpiki - potato capital of New ZealandKaikoura - great for whale watching.The Southern Alps stretch the length of the South Island.Aoraki/Mount Cook — New Zealand's highest mountain.Omarama — World famous gliding destination. Scenic alpine glider flights and pilot trainingMilford Sound and Fiordland.Understand
NZ was named god's own country
and 'paradise of the pacific' as far back as the early 1800s and travellers generally agree it deserves that description.
A common mistake is to allow insufficient time for a visit. (Since it's a long and expensive way to go for most people, many folks end up spending all their time in Australia and then wishing that they had spent an equal or longer time in this very variegated archipelago).
Relax and allow at least three or four weeks for each island!Lonely Planet
named New Zealand the world's top travel destination for the second year running (2003/2004), and it was voted best long-haul travel destination in the 2004 Guardian and Observer’s People’s Choice award
. It has won the award in three out of the past four years. At the 2005 Condé Nast Traveller Awards, readers voted New Zealand as the best holiday destination in the world. New Zealand is also known by the Maori name of Aotearoa
, which is usually translated as "(Land of the) long white cloud".Geography
New Zealand consists of two main islands and many smaller ones in the South Pacific Ocean approximately 2000 km southeast of Australia. With a population of four million in a country about the size of the United Kingdom, many areas are sparsely settled.
Auckland, the largest city (about 1.25 million), is the largest city in Polynesia.Settlement and history
New Zealand was the last significant land mass to be inhabited by humans, both in terms of indigenous settlement and European domination. This, combined with geological youth and geographical isolation, has led to the development of a young, vigorous nation with a well-travelled, well-educated expatriate population of 1,000,000. (1 in 4 born New Zealanders and 1 in 3 between ages 22 and 48 have left their place of Birth for more favorable locations).
It also has some spectacular scenery, flora and fauna.
The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about 800 AD. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, in 1642, was the first European to see New Zealand, and his mapped coastline appeared on Dutch maps as "Nieuw Zeeland" from as early as 1645. British naval Captain James Cook rediscovered, circumnavigated and mapped the islands in 1769. A few people (mostly sealers, whalers, traders and missionaries) settled during the next 80 years and the islands were administered by the British colony in New South Wales.
In 1840, with the assistance of missionaries, the Maori agreed to accept British sovereignty over the islands through the Treaty of Waitangi. More intensive settlement began that same year. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872, coupled with political maneuvering and the spread of European diseases, broke Maori resistance to land settlement, but left lasting grievances. In recent years the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances, and this is a complicated process. In 2005, the Maori Party was formed, in part in response to the Government's law on the Foreshore and Seabed but also to promote an independent Maori perspective at a political level.
The British colony of New Zealand became a dominion in 1907. It was offered complete independence under the 1931 Statute of Westminster, although it did not adopt this until 1947. However the Constitution of Australia permits New Zealand to join as another Australian state. New Zealand supported the United Kingdom militarily in the Boer War of 1899–1902, as well as both World Wars. It also participated in wars in Malaya, Korea and Viet Nam under various military alliances, most notably the ANZUS treaty with Australia and the United States.
New Zealand's elite has strongly opposed the testing and use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear armed warship visits meant that the Parliament enacted anti-nuclear legislation in the mid-1980s. This led to the abandonment of New Zealand's commitment to the ANZUS defence alliance. The New Zealand military continues be limited in capacity to take roles in UN- peacekeeping operations worldwide as often as its budget can bear.Time Zones
New Zealand Standard Time is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). New Zealand utilises daylight saving in summer. From 30 September 2007, daylight saving hours will be changed to extend the period to 27 weeks. It commences at 2am on the last Sunday in September (clocks go forward an hour) and ends at 2am on the first Sunday in April (clocks go back an hour) of the following year. During daylight savings time New Zealand is 13 hours ahead of GMT. The Chatham Islands have their own time zone, 45 minutes ahead.Sports
The "national sports" in New Zealand are rugby union and netball in winter, and cricket in summer. The Super 14 season runs from February to May, and the National Provincial Championship runs later in the year. The national team, the All Blacks, generally play matches at home during June through to September, mainly in the Tri Nations.Climate
New Zealand has a temperate climate in the south island and sub-tropical climate in the North Island and the nature of the terrain, the prevailing winds and the length of the country lead to sharp regional contrasts. Temperatures sometimes exceed 30°C and fall below 0°C only in the elevated inland regions. Generally speaking, rainfall and humidity is higher in the west than the east of the country due to the north-south orientation of the mountain ranges and the prevailing westerly/north westerly winds.
Part situated in the "Roaring Forties", unsheltered areas of the country can get a bit breezy, especially in the centre, through Cook Strait and around Wellington. The winds seem to be stronger around the equinoxes.
In the winter, southerly gales can be severe but they also bring snow to the ski-fields and are usually followed by calm clear days.
|Temperatures in (°C)||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
New Zealand is one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to forecast the weather. Although the weather is changeable, there is certainly more sunshine and warm temperate temperatures to enjoy in summer. It is not uncommon, especially on the South Island, to experience four seasons in one day.
New Zealand is a small country surrounded by ocean. A complicating, but often beneficial factor on the day to day weather, is the steep mountain range running down the spine of New Zealand orientated in a southwest-northeast direction. These mountains often shelter eastern parts of the country from an onslaught of westerly winds and rain.
The weather is mostly influenced by fast moving weather systems in the strong westerly winds (often referred to as the ‘roaring forties’) that predominate over southern parts of the country and seas to the south. There tends to be a seven day cycle associated with these westerlies as a cold front sweeps over the country associated with a couple of days rain, somewhere over the country. Often though these westerlies are disrupted by large high pressure systems (good!) or by storm systems (not so good!).
During the summer and early autumn months (from about December to April), the westerlies tend to move south giving more settled weather. Always be prepared for a change though. Also, during this time, random weather systems from the tropics can make their presence felt, mainly over the North Island, with a period of warm wet windy weather.
Winter weather (May to August) tends to be more changeable. Cold fronts often bring a period of rain to western areas followed by a cold wind from the south bringing snow to the mountains and sometimes to near sea level over eastern parts of the South Island. When the weather turns cold and wet in the east, to the west of the mountains it will be fantastic. At this time of the year it is not uncommon for high pressure systems (and clear skies) to park over the whole country for long periods bringing crisp frosty nights and mornings followed by cool sunny days.
In spring, from August to November, the westerly winds (on average) are at their strongest – these are called the equinoctial westerlies. It tends to rain more in western areas at this time (especially in the South Island), while in the east, warm dry winds can give great cycling weather. Once again though, a cold front and its accompanying south winds can give you a taste of winter at any stage.
A web site for up to date weather forecasts for five days in advance is at metservice
or fencepostGet in
Arrivals are by plane or occasionally by boat (typically cruise ships through Auckland). Visas and documentation
All visitors who are not citizens of New Zealand need a passport to enter. Australian passport holders may enter New Zealand without a visa and stay as long as they wish without restrictions (including on employment). British passport holders can be granted a visa-free Visitor's Permit for up to six months on arrival. Citizens of a large number of other countries can be granted a visa-free visitor's entry for up to three months on arrival, check the list of Visa Free Countries
. All these waivers, including the one for Australians, can be refused. In particular, potential visitors with criminal records or who have been refused entry to or deported from any country should check with New Zealand immigration about whether they need to apply for a visa.
Visitors from countries not in the visa-free list or those wishing to stay longer than the maximum visa-free period for their nationality, will need to apply for an appropriate visa. Check the Immigration New Zealand
web page for details. Quarantine
Because the economy is based on agriculture, importing even small quantities of most food, as well as unprocessed animal or plant materials is tightly controlled. These restrictions are designed to limit the spread of animal and plant diseases and pests. New Zealand has some very strong biosecurity laws, which are taken seriously by enforcement officials and as a game sport at border control. In addition, importation or possession of most recreational drugs, including cannabis, is illegal.
At ports of entry, both the Agriculture and Customs Services will inspect passenger baggage and confiscate and fine heavily for any prohibited items (like the New Zealand grown apple you were finishing off from on the plane). Items that must be declared include: any kind of food; any plant material; any animals, animal material or biological specimens; dirty or soiled sports gear, footwear, and used camping gear and anything that may have been in contact with soil, been used on a farm or has been used with animals. If travelling with golf clubs and shoes, make sure you clean them before your trip. It is also a good idea to remove spikes from your golf shoes.
Commercially-packaged food is usually allowed through Customs. If you are unsure it is best to declare any questionable items as the immigration officers will be able to tell you if it needs to be cleaned or disposed of before entry. Instant fines of many hundreds of dollars can be issued at the pleasure of border control staff if prohibited items are not declared. Some items may be taken for sterilisation or fumigation before being released to you.
If not declared or the quarantine section of the arrival card is not correctly completed, an instant fine of at least $200 may be freely applied. More serious breaches may result in a fine (up to $100,000) or a prison term (up to five years). Either declare items as required or dump them in the amnesty bins before you reach customs.By plane
There are international airports at Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown.
The main gateways are Auckland and Christchurch, with Auckland servicing more than 20 destinations and a dozen airlines, and direct connections from Christchurch to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, and Tokyo. All the smaller international airports service flights to Australia or the Pacific Islands only and are limited to B737 or similar size aircraft.
Due to its large third world expatriate population and Polynesian and Melanesian communities, New Zealand has more extensive direct flight options to South Pacific nations such as Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands than most other countries except big brother Australia.
Aerolineas Argentina now provides a biweekly service direct to Buenos Aires from Auckland.Get around
Both Auckland and Wellington have commuter rail services. These services are operated by Veolia
in Auckland and Tranz Metro
in Greater Wellington.
Inter-city rail passenger services are operated by Tranz Scenic
, but have become increasingly limited due to the disfunctional services, and the focus is now on popular tourist trains and very high cost ticket tours, in particular:The Overlander — Between Auckland and Wellington, departing each city in the morning, daily in summer, Friday-Sunday the rest of the year has been retained in the mean time but could be cancelled in the near future.. The Northerner overnight service was also discontinued in November 2004.The Capital Connection — Commuter service leaves from Palmerston North to Wellington in the morning, returning in the evening. The TranzCoastal — From Christchurch to Picton (via Kaikoura) and return daily. Travels along the rugged north-east coast of the South Island. Meets the Picton-Wellington ferry.The TranzAlpine — From Christchurch to Greymouth and return daily. Classed as one of the world's great train journeys, this trip crosses the South Island, passing through spectacular mountain scenery, some of which is inaccessible by road, as well as the 12 km Otira tunnel. Many visitors disembark at Arthur's Pass National Park and spend four hours exploring the mountains before catching the return train.
Trains run at low speed, sometimes dropping to 50 km/h in the summer due to the narrow gauge and lack of track maintenance following privatisation in the 1980s. Most New Zealanders prefer to drive or fly, as train fares are comparatively expensive.By air
Domestic flights in New Zealand are quite reasonably priced, and are often cheaper than driving or taking the train, especially if crossing between the North and South Islands is required.
Most airlines operate an electronic ticket system. You can book on-line via the internet (cheapest), or by telephone or through a travel agent (more expensive). Pay using a credit card and just turn up on the day (with the card and photographic ID to prove who you are) and fly. However, you should also bring a copy of your itinerary to serve as proof of your planned departure for the purposes of securing a travel visa.
Check-in times are usually 30 minutes prior to flight departure. Cabin baggage and personal scanning are routinely conducted for jet services. Air New Zealand, . Has the most extensive domestic network, serving most cities over 20,000 people, with jet services between main centres and smaller aircraft elsewhere. Free baggage allowance is 20 kg, with 5 kg carry-on.Qantas, . Operated by Jetconnect and flies on the main trunk and principal tourist routes (Auckland–Rotorua–Wellington–Christchurch–Queenstown)Freedom Air, . No longer offer NZ domestic services, operating international flights to Australia and Fiji only.
Only Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington have timetabled public transport in the form of buses. Regional airports generally have only on-demand shuttle services and taxis.By car
Driving around both the main islands by car is generally not a problem. You can reach almost anywhere you might need to in a two-wheel-drive car or even a small camper van. You do not need four-wheel drive to reach the best places. The volume of traffic is normally low and drivers are usually fairly courteous. Within the cities, traffic density is higher and some confusion may set in, given that many drivers are used to the open roads.
Car rental firms range from the familiar multi-national big brands through to small local car rental firms. The advantage of the big name rental firms is they can be found throughout New Zealand and offer the biggest and newest range of rental vehicles. The disadvantage is that generally they are the most expensive. Occasionally rental firms offer free rental in the direction from south to north due to the majority of tourists travelling in the opposite direction, creating a deficit of cars in the north.
At the other end of the scale are the small local operators who typically have older rental cars. Whilst you may not end up driving this year's latest model the advantage is that the smaller car rental firms can be substantially cheaper, so leaving you more money to spend on the many exciting attractions New Zealand offers. Between these extremes you will find a wide range of NZ car rental firms catering to different needs and budgets.
If you want to have a low cost holiday greater than about 2 weeks in New Zealand, and you would prefer to have your own transport then the best solution is to buy your own car/van. Upon arriving in the country, you would purchase a low cost vehicle which you sell just before leaving.
The following things need to be checked in order to safely purchase a vehicle in New Zealand:there is no debt on the vehicle. In NZ, if a loan of money is used to purchase a vehicle, then the debt is associated with that vehicle even if it is sold, in which case the new owner then has the problem of the debt. Selling a vehicle with debt associated with it in NZ is illegal. Checking for debt is an easy process as a central register is kept.the vehicle has not been stolen. Contact the police with the registration plate and VIN (vehicle identification number).legally, the vehicle must have a Warrant of Fitness valid for at least 30 days (unless advertised "as is, where is"). The expiry date will be written on the inside of the car window sticker.the Registration expiration date is not in the past. This label is usually on the left side of the car window.the vehicle needs a physical check for faults, there are companies in main centres that provide this service.
Car insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand but is recommended.
See also: Driving in New Zealand and Renting a motorhome in New Zealand.By bus
Buses are a cheap way to get around the North Island. Most roads in New Zealand are quite narrow and winding, and travelling a long distance in a bus can be a safe and relaxing way to travel.InterCity Coachlines, . New Zealand’s national coach company, with services connecting over 600 destinations nationwide. Newmans Coaches, . This sister company of Intercity Coach provides tourist point-to-point travel and daily sightseeing tours to all major tourist destinations in both North and South Islands including the Bay of Islands, Waitomo Caves, Rotorua, Mt Cook, Milford Sound and the West coast Glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Flexi-Pass - InterCity also offer the New Zealand’s most versatile transport, Flexi-Pass. Flexi-Pass is sold in blocks of time, just like a prepaid phone card, and enables the holder to travel anywhere on the company’s vast networks. Passes start at 15hrs, which is enough to travel from Auckland to Wellington in the North Island. Flexi-Pass hours can also be used to travel on the Interislander ferry and on Kings Dolphin Cruises to Cape Brett and the famous “Hole in the Rock”. In the South Island there are a number of small bus companies like Atomic Shuttles who operate a no-frills shuttle service. Backpacker buses - "KiwiExperience Backpacker Bus", Stray Travel and "The Magic Bus" offer bus trips around New Zealand where you can get on and off as you please.Naked Bus is a new low-cost bus service, providing point-to-point services. It started its operations in October 2006. You may, if you’re very very lucky, be able to find $1 advance tickets on their website.In the South Island there are a number of small bus companies like Atomic Shuttles who operate a no-frills shuttle service.By coachNew Zealand Escorted Coach Tours One of the most popular ways to tour NZ, escorted tours are designed for travellers who want a no-hassle holiday with everything catered for including the value and security of pre-booked hotels, sightseeing activities and the services of an experienced tour guide or coach captain that travels with you.New Zealand Independent Coach Tours These unescorted multiday coach tours are designed for travellers who want the value and security of pre-booked hotels and sightseeing activities, but prefer more independent time with the option to add extra days or activities to suit their requirements.New Zealand Small Group Coach ToursDont fancy travelling in a big coach? Well here is another option. You still get a no-hassle holiday with everything catered for, including pre-booked accomodation & sightseeing activities. However by paying a little more, you get to travel in a smaller coach, and you get a more personal service and a more interactive environment with your fellow travellers.Low Cost New Zealand Adventure Tours Haka Tours represent the ultimate in low cost / high impact New Zealand tours. Their 16 and 26 day tours are made for the budget minded traveller who wants to maximise their pennies (but not shirk on experience!). Once your place is secured onboard a Haka Tour, you can benefit from 10%-50% off New Zealand's most popular activities which are exclusive to Haka customers!
For special interest groups an alternative to scheduled coach tours is chartering a bus for their exclusive use. This allows full itinerary flexibility and is usually cheaper than 'seat in coach' bookings. Coach charters include the a driver but accommodation and entrance fees to attractions are not included. New Zealand bus charter operators range from budget, such as BusNZ
, through to luxury operators.By boat
To get your car between the North and South Islands you will need to take a ferry across Cook Strait. There are several sailings daily between Wellington and Picton. But be prepared for a delay or a change in sailings if the weather is stormy.
Harbour ferries, for commuters, operate in Auckland and Wellington. A number of communities are served by boat, rather than road, while charter boats are available for expeditions in several places. There are regular sightseeing cruises in several tourist destinations, particularly in the Southern Lakes and Fiordland area.
For thrills, there is the New Zealand-designed jet boat. You can even travel on the very rivers that inspired this craft.By bike
You can bring your own bike, as well as hire a bike in some of the larger cities. You must wear a helmet while riding, otherwise you may be fined. When hiring a bike you should be supplied with a helmet. Also remember to ride on the left.
Riding bikes in New Zealand can be fun, but be aware of (tourist) buses and trucks on main highways as overtaking distances can be slim. You should also be prepared for the large distances between towns and cities and the generally windy weather. While some areas of New Zealand are flat, most tourists cycling in New Zealand will find that they need to be able to cope with long periods of cycling up hills, especially in the Coromandel.
Being a temperate coastal climate, the weather is changeable and it is recommended that cyclists have all options covered. It is often said that in New Zealand you can get four seasons in one day, particularly in the high country (or Middle Earth as it is known to those who are familiar with the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies). Due to ozone depletion above NZ and Australia, burn times in the summer are often shorter relative to elsewhere in the world, and a factor 15 or greater sunscreen is essential to avoid the discomfort (and danger) of sunburn.
Flying with your bike can be expensive and problematic with limiting weight restrictions and many cyclist choose to get a bike on their arrival to New Zealand. This offers the additional benefit of not being stuck with a bike when you take on other activities, such as walking, and saves the tricky job of repacking for flights.
Christchurch has the largest number of guided and self-guided tour operators
and there are a number of bike rental companies based there also.By thumb
Hitchhiking around New Zealand is generally possible on most inter-city and major rural roads. It is illegal to hitchhike on motorways and illegal for motorists to stop there to pick you up. Try to get out of the middle of town, especially where public transport operates. Wear your pack and look like you're touring the country rather than just being a local looking for a lift. You have as much chance of being picked up by another tourist as a local, particularly in tourist areas. Alternatives for travellers include organising shared rides through hostels, or using an online ridesharing resource like Hitch New Zealand
.Tour operatorsEcotours New Zealand. A directory of New Zealand wildlife and nature guides specialising in conservation activites and sustainable travel. An extensive wildlife section by Brian Parkinson, naturalist and author provides a naturalists view of the best sights to see and the unique wildlife to be found in every part of New ZealandAdventureSmith New Zealand Travel. A United States based tour operator specializing in active ecotours to New Zealand. Trips are geared toward active travelers and nature enthusiasts. Trips include upscale accommodations, guides, transportation, food and national park entrance fees. Tours from 5 to 21 days. Costs begin at $1599 per person.New Zealand Tours. Relaxing Journeys is a New Zealand based tour operator showcasing an extensive range of NZ tours, including small group guided tours, independent and escorted coach tours, self drive tours and sightseeing day trips throughout New Zealand.Potiki Adventures. is an Auckland Based, Maori owned tour company. They offer small group Auckland day trips that introduce you to contemporary Maori culture, sites of historical significance and beautiful bush and beach landscapes. They have two tours - Urban Maori Experience (sightseeing) and Marine Reserve Adventure (snorkeling and kayaking). They also do exclusive tours on request.Acrossnz.com is a New Zealand based online travel agent. Acrossnz is able to organise every aspect in planning your New Zealand vacation, complete with hotel bookings, car rentals, air/rail bookings, activities transfers plus provide you with an itinerary that suits your personal requirements.NZ Holiday Book A range of tours of New Zealand with choice of travelling by rental car or coach(Phone: +64 9 529 4796, Phone Tollfree: (within NZ) 0800 54 55 56, Fax: +64 9 524 8248, Email: email@example.com).Creative Tourism offers a variety of hands-on cultural workshops in Maori Culture, Art, Taste or Nature.Low Cost New Zealand Adventure Tours Haka Tours represent the ultimate in low cost / high impact New Zealand tours. Their 16 and 26 day tours are made for the budget minded traveller who wants to maximise their pennies (but not shirk on experience!). Once your place is secured onboard a Haka Tour, you can benefit from 10%-50% off New Zealand's most popular activities which are exclusive to Haka customers!Tourmasters South Pacific (NZ) Ltd offer quality, value-for-money New Zealand holidays to travellers from all over the world. Our New Zealand travel packages and tours can be adapted or extended according to your requirements, or we can design a unique, tailored vacation just for you.Stray - Further off the Beaten Track Stray gives you more of real New Zealand than any other travel option and you'll love it. Don't just take our word for it - ask a traveller or check out the comments on straytravel.com (which at the time of going to press is tellingly the only live customer comments bulletin board in our market).See
New Zealand scenery has long been a major tourist attraction, so spectacular it leaves many lost for words. You need to see it to understand, just describing it is not enough. Mind you, if you have seen some recent movies that were made in New Zealand, you probably have seen it and not realised. Those spectacular landscapes in the Lord of the Rings
trilogy are based on New Zealand scenery. Sure they were computer enhanced, but only in places, and the real scenery is still there to be visited. Selected highlights are:Fiordland and Milford Sound — they built the road here, including a tunnel under the mountains, just for the tourists.Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and with the other Southern Lakes in easy reach.Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers — in the Westland region.Mount Cook — New Zealand's highest mountain, in the heart of the Southern Alps.The Canterbury plains.Mount Ruapehu and Lake Taupo — volcanoes with lakes in them.White Island, one of New Zealand's more active volcanoes.Bay of Islands, where the Waitangi treaty house can be found and the place where New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed. The copies are now held by the Archives New Zealand in Wellington.Ninety Mile BeachItinerariesNine days in New Zealand's North IslandNine days in New Zealand's South IslandTwo weeks in New Zealand's South IslandEighteen Day Small Group Tour Covering Both IslandsDo
Outdoor and adventure activities include:Abseiling WaitomoAerial sightseeing (helicopter and fixed-wing)Base jumping (Cable-controlled) BirdwatchingBlack water rafting (cave rafting)Boat ToursBungy jumping Queenstown, Auckland, Lake Taupo — the modern bungy jump was invented here by New Zealander A.J. Hackett.Canoeing and kayaking on rivers and lakesCanyoningCaving Waitomo, Nelson, South Island West Coast, Te AnauClimbingCreative Tourism: Nelson. Christchurch and Waikato: Interactive workshops in Art, Maori Culture, Taste or NatureCycle touringDivingFishing — trout (some of the finest trout-fishing in the world), salmon, marlin, broadbill, sharks and many other salt-water speciesFly by wire (invented here)Four-wheel drivingGliding — Omarama is one of the best places in the world for glidingGolf - see the Golf in New Zealand article.Hang-glidingHeli-hiking at Fox GlacierHiking — New Zealand has a number of national parks and other wilderness and forested areas, much of which is managed by the Department of Conservation. The activity known in other countries as hiking, trekking or bushwalking is known as tramping in New Zealand and is a very popular activity for visitors and locals. Horse trekkingHot-air ballooningHunting — several species of deer, wild pig (wild boar), tahr, chamois, goat, wallabies (they are protected in Australia but a pest here), gamebirdsIce-climbingJetskiingKite surfingLuge (on concrete not ice) Queenstown, Rotorua.Mountaineering — this was the training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two people to climb Mt Everest.Mountain bikingMuseums http://www.nzmuseums.co.nz/Nature toursParagliding/ParapentingQuad bikingRaftingRap jumpingRiver jetboating — the Hamilton jet was invented by New Zealander William Hamilton.RockclimbingSailing — New Zealand has produced many world-champion yachties and is the only country apart from the US to have won and successfully defended yachting's ultimate prize, the America's Cup.Scuba diving and snorkeling, especially down to the sunken Rainbow Warrior at Matauri Bay, not far from Kerikeri.Sea kayaking Shark cage diving KaikouraSkiing and snowboarding including heli-skiing QueenstownSkydivingSurfingSwimming with dolphins Kaikoura, Bay of IslandsSwimming with sealsWhale watching KaikouraWhite water rafting Fox GlacierWhite water sledging / dam dropping WindsurfingZorbing (invented here) Agrodome in RotoruaZoos
There is more, but we are exhausted just thinking about it.Talk
and New Zealand Sign Language
are the official languages of New Zealand. English is universal, and used to be written with Commonwealth ("British") spelling.
The spread of computerised spell checkers using an American spelling has meant that the younger generation is increasingly confused.
New Zealand English is one of the major varieties of English and is different enough from other forms to justify the publication of the Oxford New Zealand English dictionary. A (seldom-used) expression for New Zealand English is Newzild.
Word usage may also differ occasionally, in potentially embarrassing ways for the traveller. Several words that Americans may consider offensive, or have euphemisms for, are considered acceptable usage. For example: A New Zealand bathroom
refers to a room
containing a bath
while the other facilities that an American might refer to as a bathroom
are known as a toilet
. The American habit of "bleeping" swear words from broadcasts is considered quaint and rarely done in local programming. The New Zealand broadcasting media are unusually tolerant of swear words when used in context.
The New Zealand accent is somewhat nasalised with flattened vowel sounds and vowel shifting. New Zealanders consider their accent to be markedly different from the Australian one and are often mildly offended when mistaken for or confused with Australians. New Zealand terminology and slang are also different from Australian usage. Americans find New Zealand accents easy to understand, so do Australians. English and European dialects find it slightly harder and Asians may find it rather hard to understand, New Zealanders are quite happy however to repeat what they just said if necessary.Maori
is actively spoken by a minority of both Maori and language learners. Maori is available as a language to study in, instead of English, at many educational institutes. The Maori language is spoken by some, but not all, Maori and a few non-Maori. Many place names are in Maori and for the traveller some knowledge of Maori pronunciation is very useful.
New Zealand Sign language
was given status in 2005 as an official language of the country.
See also: Maori phrasebookCommon expressions
Generally, New Zealand English expressions follows British English. However, New Zealand English has also borrowed much from Maori and there are a number of other phrases that are not commonly encountered elsewhere or may confuse the visitor.Bach (pron. "batch") — Holiday home (often by the beach and comprising of fairly basic accommodation). In the South Island often called a crib.Bring a plate — means each attendant of the event should bring a plate of food to share with the other guests.BYO — Bring Your Own. An addition to the name of a restaurant that has not (or more likely had not) a liquor licence. Means that it is perfectly okay to bring your own wine to enjoy with your food, but they often charge a small corkage fee.Bugger — Long a common expletive, it gained a certain legitimacy and/or notoriety when used in an amusing and award-winning prime-time TV ad (for Toyota). Used by politicians, on the back of cars, used by many people. Means "Oh bother". Mildly impolite and may offend a few people, however very acceptable in casual conversations.Dairy — Convenience store; corner shop, one few outsiders understand though heavily used by locals and find problems when travelling overseas and are surprised when asking where the dairy is.Entry by gold (or silver) coin (donation) — The admission charge to an event, exhibit, gallery or museum is by making a payment of a coin in the appropriate metal, often in the donation box at the door. The gold coins in NZ are the $1 and $2 coins, while silver are the 20c and 50c coins, and the 10c coin is copper. (See also "Koha" below). Kiwi — Slang for a New Zealander and also for the New Zealand dollar, named after an endangered flightless bird that lays the largest egg relative to body size.Ladies a plate — At social functions, such as meetings, attendees are expected to bring a plate carrying ready-to-eat food. Typically the food is home baking by a member of each attending family or couple, not necessarily a "lady". Clayton's — Describing something as a Clayton's means that the item lacks full functionality or is a poor imitation of the real thing. From the name of the (unsuccessful) non-alcoholic whisky that was briefly marketed during the late 1970s/early 1980s under the catch phrase The drink you're having when you are not having a drink.Glidetime — Flexible working hours (or flexitime), often worked by public servants. Under this system, workers can start and finish work at hours of their choosing between 7 am and 6 pm, although they must work the core hours of 9.30 am to noon and 2 pm to 3.30 pm and average 40 hours per week. Also the name of a comedy play about such workers.Public servants — People employed by central government organisations, or enterprises owned by the country's government.Social welfare — State operated organisations responsible for child protection services, income assistance and work placement for the unemployed.Beneficiary — A person of working age who is receiving state welfare assistance payments known as income support or a benefit.Pensioner — Retired person, a superannuitant, or a former soldier receiving a war pension.Superannuitants — Retired people in receipt of a state retirement pension known as New Zealand Superannuation - usually abbreviated to just "Super". This payment is paid to all citizens over 65 years old.Slang expressionsSweet as! — Cool, good thing, No problem.Good as gold! — "It's good, No problem."No Worries! — "No problem."Choice! — Cool, great.Tea — Dinner.Eh? — "Isn't it?" Often ends a North Islander's sentence without any specific meaning.Cool bananas! — "It's good."Bro — Short for brother but used by males to address other males.Mate — "Friend" – Used to address another personNo Worries — "All is good, no harm done"Average — Not of a good standard / lacking excitement eg. "That rugby game was really average."Maori words and expressionsHui — A meeting or gathering to discuss and debate issues in traditional Maori fashion.Iwi — A Maori tribe or people, sometimes known as a Waka (canoe), as many iwi are named after the ocean going canoes that brought their ancestors to New Zealand.Koha — A Maori term for gifts or donations. Often an exchange of gifts takes place. (Sometimes the admission signs say, "Entry Koha", meaning gold coin or what you feel like donating.) Kai — Food. Common with both Maori and European.Marae — A traditional Maori meeting or gathering place. Also a community centre.Pakeha — The Maori word for European New Zealanders, generally thought to have arisen from a Maori story about white creatures called 'pakepakeha'. Some European New Zealanders do not refer to themselves as Pakeha, while others see the name as part of their unique identity. Many liberal whites will even call themselves Pakeha to distinguish them from Europeans as whites in New Zealand are referred to as Europeans but are usually of fourth or fifth generation New Zealander.Powhiri — A Maori ceremonial welcome. Especially to a marae, but now also may take place at the start of a conference or similar large meeting in New Zealand.Whanau — A Maori (extended) family. Kinfolk.Wharenui — The meeting house (literally big house) on a marae. Used often in advertising to alliterate with friends such as 'freinds and whanau'.Wharekai — The dining room and/or kitchen (literally food house) on a marae.Buy
The New Zealand dollar is used in New Zealand. A few traders do accept foreign currency, particularly in tourist destinations. As of April 2007 the conversion from US dollars to NZ dollars was approximately 1USD=1.35NZD.Electronic banking/purchasing
New Zealanders are amongst the highest users of electronic banking services in the world. Automatic teller machines (ATMs), locally known as 'the hole in the wall', are available in just about every town, even those without a bank. Most shops have Eftpos (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) terminals for debit and credit cards, so most purchases can be made electronically. Credit cards are not accepted by some merchants with Eftpos, especially smaller food retailers such as dairies, takeaways and cafes that do not serve alcohol. Also smaller retailers may often set a minimum purchase of around $10 when obtaining cash, if they agree to provide cash. Banks offer a wide range of telephone and internet banking services. If you are going to be in New Zealand for a while it may be convenient to open a New Zealand bank account and set up a local debit card, to avoid carrying a lot of cash around.Price negotiation
Because of strong advertising laws, the displayed price is normally the purchase price for most goods sold in New Zealand. The principle The price stated is the price you pay
is strongly ingrained in New Zealand culture.
Most retailers will not negotiate on price, though some have a formal policy of matching (or beating) the competition and will match or even discount their prices for you if you can find a better price for the exact same product elsewhere. However, this seems to be changing as there are stories about people finding appliance and electronics stores very willing to negotiate on price in order to get business, especially if you're looking at high-end items or have a shopping list of multiple high-priced items. Some places you have to ask for a discount (they will gladly take full price if you are willing to hand it over), while others have salespeople that offer discounts on pricey goods as soon as they approach you.Taxes and fees
Unless it says otherwise the price includes GST (Goods and Services Tax, or sales tax) of 12.5%. Some shops, especially in tourist destinations, will ship purchases overseas, as export goods which are not subject to GST. Ask about this service before making your purchase. Goods purchased and taken with you will be subject to GST.
On public holidays, some establishments such as cafes may charge a holiday
surcharge in the region of 15%, supposedly to cover the cost of employing staff who are working on the holiday. This is a recent development because current holiday legislation requires workers who work on public holidays to be paid for the time they work and be given a paid public holiday as well. The legality of this charge is questionable and should be challenged if not advertised openly or notified at the time of placing an order.Tipping
In lodgings, restaurants and bars the prices charged include the services provided and tips
are not expected, though the practice is known of in some establishments that cater for tourists. However, do not be surprised if you receive bemused looks in some situations. Also do not be offended if your tip is initially refused or questioned, as most New Zealanders rarely encounter tipping, except from tourists. New Zealanders' unfamiliarity with tipping makes many of them very ill-at-ease with it when travelling in countries where it is practised. It is viewed very negatively by New Zealanders as an alien vulgarity, being made to 'pay twice', or as a form of bribery. Staff in some establishments may risk their job in accepting a tip. In the major cities, tipping tends to be embraced by workers, especially over the summer when students wait tables for part-time work, but a source of annoyance to older kiwis. Tipjars may be placed on counters, but these are for loose change and you are not expected to place coins in them. It is common practice and polite to donate your spare change from the meal to what ever charity has a collection jar on the counter, and this acts as the standard substitute for tipping.Eat
New Zealand has a wide range of eating places, from fast food outlets to stylish restaurants. Many petrol stations have a convenience store with sandwiches or food such as pies that can be microwaved on-site. Fast food chains include KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut and Subway. There are also many independent, owner-operated takeaways outlets selling one or more of burgers, pizzas, fried chicken, Chinese or other Asian fast food or fish and chips. At least a burger bar and/or fish and chip shop can be found in almost any small town or block of suburban shops. The humble fish and chip shop is the archetypical New Zealand fast food outlet. The menu consists of battered fish portions deep fried in oil (or fat) together with chunky cut potato chips (fries
but not the McDonald's Shoestrings
) as well as a range of other meats, seafood, pineapple rings and even chocolate bars, all wrapped in newsprint paper—today it is unprinted but traditionally it was yesterday's newspaper, until someone decided it was unhealthy. A good meal can often be had for under $5, a bad one for the same price.Cuisine
New Zealand's cultural majority (ethnic British) does not have a definitive and recognisably distinct cuisine that differs markedly from the traditional British (or North American) cuisine. However there are a number of small differencesRoast kumara — the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) roasted in the same manner as potatoes and often served instead of or alongside. May also be deep fried like potato chips (i.e. fries) and known as kumara chips — nice served with sour cream but rarely done well as kumara cooks at a different temperature than potatoes, so it needs a skilled chef for the dish to be done perfectly.Pavlova, or pav, a cake of whipped egg whites baked to have a crusty meringue-like outside but soft in the middle, topped with whipped cream and decorated with sliced fruit. Australians claim they created the dish but this is strongly disputed.ANZAC biscuits — Plain hard biscuits (cookies) made primarily from oatmeal bound with golden syrup. Originally made for and by ANZAC troops during the First World War. Also found in Australia.Pies — Unlike Americans, New Zealanders eat large numbers of non-flakey-pastry meat pies containing things like beef, lamb, pork, potato, kumara, vegetables, and cheese.Kiwifruit — A plum-sized green fleshed fruit, with fine black seeds in the flesh, originating from China, selectively bred in New Zealand, and first known to the home gardener as the Chinese Gooseberry. Now commercially farmed, with production centred on Te Puke but in many orcharding areas. Slices often served on pavlova. Known by its full name of kiwifruit and never shortened to kiwi in New Zealand, as kiwis are endangered birds or New Zealanders and neither are eaten nowadays.Whitebait — The translucent sprat or fingerlings of native freshwater fish species that migrate from spawning in the sea each year. After being caught in coastal river mouth set or hand nets during November/December, this highly sought after delicacy is rushed to all ends of the country. Served in a fried pattie made from an egg based batter. May be seasonally available from a local fish and chip shop. Is served without gutting or deheading.
The Maori also have a distinctive cuisine…The hangi or earth oven is the traditional way that Maori cook food for large gatherings. Meat, vegetables and sometimes puddings are slowly steam-cooked for several hours in a covered pit that has previously been lined with stones and had a hot wood fire burn down in it.Kaimoana (literally: sea food) — particularly shellfish gathered from inter-tidal rocks and beaches as well as crayfish (rock lobster) and inshore fish caught on a line or with nets. Species such as paua (blackfoot abalone) and toheroa have been overfished and gathering restrictions are strictly enforced, while green mussels are commercially grown and sold live, or processed, in supermarkets.Drink
New Zealanders have a reputation for enjoying their beer. Although there are now only two major breweries, there are many regional brands, each with their own distinctive taste and staunch supporters. Watch out for brewery owned pubs, the competition's beer is not sold there.
More recently, the wine industry has developed into a significant export industry. Many vineyards now offer winery tours, wine tasting and sales from the vineyard.
Take care when and where you indulge in public. New Zealand has recently introduced liquor ban areas that means alcoholic drinks cannot be consumed or even carried in some streets, such as city centres and popular beaches, at certain times of the day or night. Police can instruct you to empty bottles and arrest you if you do not comply.
Coffeehouses are a notable daytime socialisation venue in many of the larger cities and tourist destinations. The cafe culture
is notable in downtown Wellington, where many office workers have their tea breaks
now, following the demise of the office cafeteria during the restructuring of the public service in the 1980s and 1990s.Coffee stylesShort Black/espresso — a single shot (25 – 30 ml) of thick black coffee.Long Black — a long (double espresso) equal part hot water, but very strong cup of black.Flat White — very strong coffee with creamy hot milk and no foam.Latte — a large cup (double espresso) of very milky coffee with a thin layer of dense foam on top (the foam holds the coffee down).Cappuccino — one-third espresso, one-third hot milk and one-third creamy, dense foam. An optional topping of chocolate or cinnamon can be added.Americano — a Long Black with extra hot water.Moccaccino – made with hot chocolate instead of milk.Affogato — a scoop of vanilla ice cream served in a regular size glass with espresso coffee.Macchiato — two shots of espresso served in a small glass.Corretto — black espresso with a shot of alcohol.Vienna — half black with added whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate shavings.
In cafes, there is often more than one milk jug which is colour coded; dark blue is normal, light blue is lite and green is super trim.
— both flavoured and unflavoured — is available in most shops. Not that there is anything wrong with the tap water, it is just that some town supplies are drawn from river water and chlorinated. If you do not want to pour your money down the drain, fill your own water bottle from the tap, unless you find it is too heavily chlorinated for your taste. Tap water in New Zealand is regarded as some of the cleanest in the world, it is safe to drink from in all cities, most come from artesian wells or freshwater reservoirs - however, some are from rivers which can be chlorinated to be made safe but do not taste very nice. The water in Auckland comes from the end of the Waikato river, a long river that comes from freshwater sources in Taupo, but by the time it reaches Auckland the water quality is no better than that of the Thames in London or the Hudson in New York. Tap water in places such as Christchurch and Hastings is not chlorinated at all as it is drawn from the pure artesian aquifers of the Canterbury and Heretaunga plains (the same places the bottled water and other beverages comes from). L & P
or Lemon & Paeroa
is "world famous in New Zealand". It is a sweet carbonated lemonade style drink sold in a brown plastic bottle with a yellow label because they used to sell it in brown glass ones (like beer bottles) before they switched to plastic. Generally one for the kids or parties (it mixes quite well with whiskey), though the big bottle in Paeroa itself is a hit with the tourists.Sleep
New Zealand offers a wide range of accommodation.
International quality hotels
can be found in the major cities. And New Zealanders seem to have perfected the art of the top-end homestay. Hosted luxury lodges
are the top-end equivalent of the bed-and-breakfast market and New Zealand has upwards of 40 internationally recognised lodges. Per capita, that's probably the highest in the world. They tend to be situated away from cities, though some are right in the heart of the major centres, and can be difficult to get to. At the very top-end, helicopter transfers and private jets help the luxury traveller move between the lodges they've chosen for their visit.Motels
of a variety of standards from luxury to just adequate can be found on the approaches to most towns.
There is a wide range of backpackers
accommodation around the country, including a network of Youth Hostels
that are members of the Youth Hostels Association
(62 in 2004).
Bed and Breakfasts are popular with visiting Brits and Swiss as well as homestays
and similar lodgings — some of which are in the most unlikely places.
For uniquely New Zealand accommodation, there are Maori homestays and tourist-catering marae stays and
New Zealanders are also registered on hospitality exchange sites, such as CouchSurfing
There are a number of commercial camping grounds around the country, as well as camping sites within all of the national parks. One way that many tourists travel around New Zealand is in a self-contained campervan
, a motorised caravan or large minibus, that can be driven by anyone who holds an ordinary car driver's license.
If you are travelling into the backcountry, the Department of Conservation
has many backcountry huts that can be used under a permit system.
Free camping is also available in many places. Unless there is a "no camping" sign it is common to find a tent or hammock pitched for the night in many picnic areas or in a grove of trees off the road. Cycle tourists especially will rarely need to pay for camping, only for showers and laundry. Multi-day camping in these areas is often frowned upon, and in conservation areas camping outside designated areas may attract a fine.
New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world after the UK to develop a dense WWOOF network. WWOOF is a world wide network where travellers ("WWOOFers") stay as volunteers on farms and receive food and accommodation in exchange for half a days help (usually 4 - 6 hours) for each night they stay. The Nelson Tasman region in the South Island is particularly rich in WWoOFing possibilities...Learn
For many years, New Zealand schools and universities have educated foreign students from the countries of Southeast Asia and education has now become a major source of export earnings for the country. In recent years English language schools have been established for students from the region, particularly South Korea and China, but also many other countries.
Education in New Zealand is compuls
is a country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two large islands (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. In Māori, New Zealand has come to be known as Aotearoa
, which is usually translated into English as The Land of the Long White Cloud
. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue, which are self-governing but in free association; Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica).
New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation, being separated from Australia to the northwest by the Tasman Sea, approximately 2000 kilometres (1250 miles) across. Its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.
The population is mostly of European descent, with the indigenous Māori being the largest minority. Non-Māori Polynesian and Asian people are also significant minorities, especially in the cities. Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the Head of State and, in her absence, is represented by a non-partisan Governor-General. The Queen 'reigns but does not rule'; she has no real political influence. Her position is largely symbolic. Political power is held by the democratically-elected Parliament of New Zealand under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who is the Head of Government.Etymology
There is no known pre-contact Māori name for New Zealand, although Māori referred to the North Island as Te Ika-a-Māui (the fish of Māui) and the South Island as Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of jade) or Te Waka-a-Māui (the canoe of Māui). Until the early twentieth century, the North Island was also referred to as Aotearoa (often glossed as 'long white cloud'); in modern Māori usage, this is the name for the whole country.
The name New Zealand
originated with Dutch cartographers, who called the islands Nova Zeelandia
, after the Dutch province of Zeeland. British explorer James Cook subsequently anglicised the name to New Zealand.History
New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major land masses. The first settlers of New Zealand were Eastern Polynesians who came to New Zealand, probably in a series of migrations, sometime between around AD 800 and 1300. Over the next few centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into hapū (subtribes) which would co-operate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Māori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their own distinct Moriori culture.
The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642. Several of the crew were killed by Māori and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook's voyage of 1768. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Māori timber, food, artifacts and water. On occasion, Europeans traded goods for sex. Māori agriculture and warfare were transformed by the potato and the musket, although the resulting Musket Wars died out once the tribal imbalance of arms had been rectified. From the early nineteenth century, Christian missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Māori population.
Becoming aware of the lawless nature of European settlement and increasing interest in the territory by the French, the British government sent William Hobson to New Zealand to claim sovereignty and negotiate a treaty with Māori. The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in the Bay of Islands on 6 February 1840. The drafting and translation were done hastily and inexpertly, leading to ongoing confusion and disagreement. The Treaty is regarded as New Zealand's foundation as a nation and is revered by Māori as a guarantee of their rights.
From 1840, increasing numbers of European settlers landed in New Zealand. At first, Māori were eager to trade with the 'Pakeha,' as they called them, and many iwi (tribes) became wealthy. As settler numbers increased, conflicts over land led to the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s and 1870s, resulting in the loss of much Māori land. The detail and correct interpretation of European settlement and the acquisition of land from Māori remains controversial.
New Zealand was granted limited self-government in the 1850s and by the late nineteenth century was a fully self governing country in most senses. In 1893, it became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. In 1907, New Zealand became an independent Dominion and a fully independent nation in 1947 when the Statute of Westminster (1931) was ratified, although in practice Britain had ceased to play any real role in the government of New Zealand much earlier than this. As New Zealand became more politically independent it became more dependent economically; in the 1890s, refrigerated shipping allowed New Zealand to base its entire economy on the export of meat and dairy products to Britain.
New Zealand was an enthusiastic member of the British Empire, fighting in the Boer War, World War I and World War II and supporting Britain in the Suez Crisis. The country was very much a part of the world economy and suffered as others did in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The depression led to the election of the first Labour government, which established a comprehensive welfare state and a protectionist economy.
New Zealand became wealthy following World War II. However, some social problems were developing. Māori had begun to move to the cities in search of work and excitement. A Māori protest movement would eventually form, criticising Eurocentrism and seeking more recognition of Māori culture and the Treaty of Waitangi, which they felt had not been fully honoured. In common with all other developed countries, social developments accelerated in the 1970s and social and political mores changed. By the 1970s, the traditional trade with Britain was threatened because of Britain's membership of the European Economic Community. Great economic and social changes took place in the 1980s under the 4th Labour government largely led by Finance Minister Roger Douglas, and commonly referred to as "Rogernomics."
A Waitangi Tribunal has been set up to hear complaints that the Treaty of Waitangi has not been honoured, and many claims have been settled, with others (as of 2007) still be to heard.Government
New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Under the Royal Titles Act (1953), Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of New Zealand and is represented as head of state by the Governor-General, currently Anand Satyanand.
New Zealand is the only country in the world in which all the highest offices in the land have been occupied simultaneously by women: Queen Elizabeth II, Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, Prime Minister Helen Clark, Speaker of the House of Representatives Margaret Wilson and Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias were all in office between March 2005 and August 2006.
The New Zealand Parliament has only one chamber, the House of Representatives, which usually seats 120 Members of Parliament. Parliamentary general elections are held every three years under a form of proportional representation called Mixed Member Proportional. The 2005 General Election created an 'overhang' of one extra seat, occupied by the Māori Party, due to that party winning more seats in electorates than the number of seats its proportion of the party vote would have given it.
There is no written constitution; the Constitution Act 1986
is the principal formal statement of New Zealand's constitutional structure. The Governor-General has the power to appoint and dismiss Prime Ministers and to dissolve Parliament. The Governor-General also chairs the Executive Council, which is a formal committee consisting of all ministers of the Crown. Members of the Executive Council are required to be Members of Parliament, and most are also in Cabinet. Cabinet is the most senior policy-making body and is led by the Prime Minister, who is also, by convention, the Parliamentary leader of the governing party or coalition.
The current Prime Minister is Helen Clark, the leader of the Labour Party. Since October 17, 2005, Labour has been in formal coalition with Jim Anderton, the Progressive Party's only MP. In addition to the parties in formal coalition, New Zealand First and United Future provide confidence and supply in return for their leaders being ministers outside cabinet. A further arrangement has been made with the Green Party, which has given a commitment not to vote against the government on confidence and supply. Since early 2007, Labour has also had the proxy vote of Taito Phillip Field, a former Labour MP. These arrangements assure the government of a majority of seven MPs on confidence votes.
The Leader of the Opposition is National Party leader John Key. The ACT party and the Māori Party are both also in opposition. The Greens, New Zealand First and United Future all vote against the government on some legislation.
The highest court in New Zealand is the Supreme Court of New Zealand. This was established in 2004 following the passage of the Supreme Court Act 2003, which also abolished the option to appeal to the Privy Council in London. The current Chief Justice is Dame Sian Elias. New Zealand's judiciary also includes the High Court, which deals with serious criminal offences and civil matters; the Court of Appeal; and subordinate courts.Foreign relations and the military
New Zealand maintains a strong profile on environmental protection, human rights and free trade, particularly in agriculture.
New Zealand is a member of the following geopolitical organisations: APEC, East Asia Summit, Commonwealth of Nations, OECD and the United Nations. It has signed up to a number of free trade agreements, of which the most important is Closer Economic Relations with Australia.
For its first hundred years, New Zealand followed the United Kingdom's lead on foreign policy. In declaring war on Germany on 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Michael Savage proclaimed, "Where she goes, we go; where she stands, we stand". After the war, however, the United States exerted greater influence. New Zealand joined with Australia and the United States in the ANZUS security treaty in 1951, and later fought alongside the United States in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In contrast, the United Kingdom became increasingly focussed on its European interests following the Suez Crisis, and New Zealand was forced to develop new markets after the U.K. joined the EEC in 1973.
New Zealand has traditionally worked closely with Australia, whose foreign policy followed a similar historical trend. In turn, many Pacific Islands such as Western Samoa have looked to New Zealand's lead. The American influence on New Zealand was weakened by the disappointment with the Vietnam War, the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior by France, and by disagreements over environmental and agricultural trade issues and New Zealand's nuclear-free policy.
While the ANZUS treaty was once fully mutual between Australia, New Zealand and the United States, this is no longer the case. In February 1985, New Zealand refused nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships access to its ports. New Zealand became a Nuclear-free zone in June 1987, the first Western-allied state to do so. In 1986 the United States announced that it was suspending its treaty security obligations to New Zealand pending the restoration of port access. The New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987 prohibits the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of New Zealand and the entry into New Zealand waters of nuclear armed or propelled ships. This legislation remains a source of contention and the basis for the United States' continued suspension of treaty obligations to New Zealand.
In addition to the various wars between iwi, and between the British settlers and iwi, New Zealand has fought in the Second Boer War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency (and committed troops, fighters and bombers to the subsequent confrontation with Indonesia), the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the Afghanistan War; it has also sent a unit of army engineers to help rebuild Iraqi infrastructure for one year during the Iraq War. As of 2007, New Zealand forces are still active in Afghanistan.
The New Zealand Defence Force has three branches: the New Zealand Army, the Royal New Zealand Navy, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. New Zealand considers its own national defence needs to be modest; it dismantled its air combat capability in 2001. New Zealand has contributed forces to recent regional and global peacekeeping missions, including those in Cyprus, Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Sinai, Angola, Cambodia, the Iran/Iraq border, Bougainville and East Timor.Local government and external territories
The early European settlers divided New Zealand into provinces. These were abolished in 1876 so that government could be centralised, for financial reasons. As a result, New Zealand has no separately represented subnational entities such as provinces, states or territories, apart from its local government. The spirit of the provinces, however, still lives on, and there is fierce rivalry exhibited in sporting and cultural events. Since 1876, local government has administered the various regions of New Zealand. In 1989, the government completely reorganised local government, implementing the current two-tier structure of regional councils and territorial authorities.
Today, New Zealand has twelve regional councils for the administration of environmental and transport matters and seventy-four territorial authorities that administer roading, sewerage, building consents, and other local matters. The territorial authorities are sixteen city councils, fifty-seven district councils, and the Chatham Islands County Council. Four of the territorial councils (one city and three districts) and the Chatham Islands County Council also perform the functions of a regional council and thus are known as unitary authorities. Territorial authority districts are not subdivisions of regional council districts, and a few of them straddle regional council boundaries.
The regions are (asterisks denote unitary authorities): Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne*, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui, Wellington, Marlborough*, Nelson*, Tasman*, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Chatham Islands*.
As a major South Pacific nation, New Zealand has a close working relationship with many Pacific Island nations, and continues a political association with the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau. New Zealand operates Scott Base in its Antarctic territory, the Ross Dependency. Other countries also use Christchurch to support their Antarctic bases and the city is sometimes known as the "Gateway to Antarctica."Geography
New Zealand comprises two main islands (called the North and South Islands in English, Te-Ika-a-Maui
and Te Wai Pounamu
in Māori) and a number of smaller islands located near the center of the water hemisphere. The total land area, 268,680 square kilometres (103,738 sq mi), is a little less than that of Italy and Japan, and a little more than the United Kingdom. The country extends more than 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) along its main, north-north-east axis, with approximately 15,134 km of coastline. The most significant of the smaller inhabited islands include Stewart Island/Rakiura; Waiheke Island, in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf; Great Barrier Island, east of the Hauraki Gulf; and the Chatham Islands, named Rēkohu
by Moriori. The country has extensive marine resources, with the seventh-largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering over four million square kilometres (1.5 million sq mi), more than 15 times its land area.
The South Island is the largest land mass of New Zealand, and is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres (12,316 ft). There are eighteen peaks over 3000 metres (9800 ft) in the South Island. The North Island is less mountainous than the South, but is marked by volcanism. The tallest North Island mountain, Mount Ruapehu 9176 ft), is an active cone volcano. The dramatic and varied landscape of New Zealand has made it a popular location for the production of television programmes and films, including the Lord of the Rings
trilogy and The Last Samurai
The climate throughout the country is mild and temperate, mainly maritime, with temperatures rarely falling below 0°C (32°F) or rising above 30°C (86°F) in populated areas. Conditions vary sharply across regions from extremely wet on the West Coast of the South Island to semi-arid (Köppen BSh) in the Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury and subtropical in Northland. Of the main cities, Christchurch is the driest, receiving only some 640 mm (25 in) of rain per year. Auckland, the wettest, receives almost twice that amount. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch all receive on average in excess of 2000 hours of sunshine per annum.
New Zealand is part of Zealandia, a continent that is 93% submerged. Zealandia is almost half the size of Australia and is unusually long and narrow. About 25 million years ago, a shift in plate tectonic movements began to pull Zealandia apart forcefully. The submerged parts of Zealandia include the Lord Howe Rise, Challenger Plateau, Campbell Plateau, Norfolk Ridge and the Chatham Rise.
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a hill in the Hawke's Bay region of the North Island, is credited by The Guinness Book of World Records
with having the longest place name in the world.Flora and fauna
Because of its long isolation from the rest of the world and its island biogeography, New Zealand has extraordinary flora and fauna. About 80% of the flora in New Zealand occurs only in New Zealand, including more than 40 endemic genera. The two main types of forest are those dominated by podocarps including the giant kauri, and in cooler climates the southern beech. The remaining vegetation types in New Zealand are grasslands of tussock and other grasses, usually in sub-alpine areas, and the low shrublands between grasslands and forests.
Until the arrival of humans, 80% of the land was forested. Until 2006, it was thought, barring three species of bat (one now extinct), there were no non-marine native mammals. However, in 2006, scientists discovered bones that belonged to a long-extinct, unique, mouse-sized land animal in the Otago region of the South Island. New Zealand's forests were inhabited by a diverse range of birds including the flightless moa (now extinct), and the kiwi, kakapo and takahē, all endangered by human actions. Unique birds capable of flight include the Haast's eagle, which was the world's largest bird of prey (now extinct), and the large kākā and kea parrots. Reptiles present in New Zealand include skinks, geckos and tuatara. There are four endemic species of primitive frogs. There are no snakes and there is only one venomous spider, the katipo, which is rare and restricted to coastal regions. However, there are many endemic species of insects, including the weta, one species of which may grow as large as a house mouse and is the heaviest insect in the world.
New Zealand has led the world in clearing offshore islands of introduced mammalian pests and reintroducing rare native species to ensure their survival. A more recent development is the mainland ecological island.Economy
New Zealand has a modern, prosperous, developed economy with an estimated GDP of $106 billion (2006). The country has a high standard of living with GDP per capita estimated at $26,000 (comparative figures are Australia $32,900 and United States $43,500). The standard of living has also been measured in other forms, including being ranked 20th on the 2006 Human Development Index and 15th in The Economist's
2005 world-wide quality-of-life index.
The tertiary sector is the largest sector in the economy and constitutes 67.6% of GDP, followed by the secondary sector on 27.8% and the primary sector on 4.7% (2005 estimate)..
The current government's economic objectives are centred on pursuing free-trade agreements and building a "knowledge economy". In 2004, the government began discussing a free trade agreement with the People's Republic of China, one of the first countries to do so. Ongoing economic challenges for New Zealand include a current account deficit of 9% of GDP, slow development of non-commodity exports and tepid growth of labour productivity. New Zealand has experienced a series of "brain drains" since the 1970s as well educated youth left permanently for Australia, Britain or the United States. "Kiwi lifestyle" and family/whanau factors motivates some of the expatriates to return, while career, culture, and economics tend to be predominantly 'push' components, keeping these people overseas. In recent years, however, a reverse brain drain brought in educated professionals from poor countries, as well as Europe, as permanent settlers.Demographics
New Zealand has a population of about 4.1 million, of which approximately 78% identify with European ethnic groups or simply as a New Zealander. New Zealanders of European descent are collectively known as Pākehā;
this term is used variously and some Māori use it to refer to all non-Māori New Zealanders. Most European New Zealanders are of British and Irish ancestry, although there has been significant Dutch, South Slav , Italian, German immigration together with indirect European immigration through Australia, South Africa and North America.
Indigenous Māori people are the largest non-European ethnic group, accounting for 14.6% of the population in the 2006 census. While people could select more than one ethnic group, slightly more than half (53%) of all Māori residents identified solely as Māori. People identifying with Asian ethnic groups account for 9.2% of the population, increasing from 6.6% in the 2001 census, while 6.9% of people are of Pacific Island origin. New Zealand has relatively open immigration policies; its government is committed to increasing its population by about 1% annually. Twenty three percent of the population was born overseas, one of the highest rates anywhere in the world. At present, immigrants from the United Kingdom constitute the largest single group (28%) but immigrants are drawn from many nations, and increasingly from Northeast Asia (mostly China, but with substantial numbers also from Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong).
According to the 2006 census, Christianity is the predominant religion, held by 53% of the population. Around 32% identified that they were 'non-religious' and 5% were affiliated with other religions, while 13% objected to answering or did not provide usable information. The main Christian denominations are Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Presbyterianism and Methodism. There are also significant numbers who identify themselves with Pentecostal and Baptist churches and with the LDS (Mormon) church. The New Zealand-based Ratana church has adherents among Māori. According to census figures, other significant minority religions include Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Religion does not play a major role in New Zealand public life. Overtly Christian-based political parties such as Christian Heritage and Destiny have been unsuccessful, and the religion (or lack of religion) of political leaders - while generally known - is considered by most to be a private matter.Culture
Contemporary New Zealand has a diverse culture with influences from English, Scottish, Irish, American, Australian and Māori cultures, along with those of other European cultures and – more recently – Polynesian cultures other than that of the Māori (including Samoan, Tongan, Tokelaun Niuean, Cook Islands Māori, Tahitian, and Hawaiian); also southern Asian (Indian), Southeast Asian (Filipino, Malaysian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese), and east Asian (Chinese, Korean, and Japanese) cultures. Large festivals in celebration of Diwali and Chinese New Year are held in Auckland, as is the world's largest Polynesian festival, Pasifika. Cultural links between New Zealand and the United Kingdom are maintained by a common language, sustained migration from the United Kingdom and the fact that many young New Zealanders spend time in the United Kingdom on their "overseas experience" (OE). The music of New Zealand and cuisine of New Zealand are similar to that of Britain and the United States, although both have some distinct New Zealand and Pacific qualities.
Māori culture has undergone considerable change since the arrival of Europeans; in particular the introduction of Christianity in the early 19th century brought about fundamental change in everyday life. Nonetheless the perception that most Māori now live similar lifestyles to their Pākehā neighbours is a superficial one. In fact, Māori culture has significant differences, for instance the important role which the marae continues to play in communal and family life. As in traditional times, karakia are habitually performed by Māori today to ensure the favorable outcome of important undertakings, but today the prayers used are generally Christian. Māori still regard their allegiance to tribal groups as a vital part of personal identity, and Māori kinship roles resemble those of other Polynesian peoples. As part of the resurgence of Māori culture that came to the fore in the late 20th century, the tradition-based arts of kapa haka (song and dance), carving and weaving are widely practiced, and the architecture of the marae maintains strong links to traditional forms. Māori also value their connections to Polynesia, as attested by the increasing popularity of waka ama (outrigger canoe racing), which is now an international sport involving teams from all over the Pacific. A revived traditional Māori ball sport, ki-o-rahi, is increasingly popular in New Zealand, and in 2005 was introduced into 31,000 American schools as part of a physical activity initiative.
Use of the Māori language (Te Reo Māori) as a living, community language remained only in a few remote areas in the post-war years, but is currently undergoing a renaissance, thanks in part to Māori language immersion schools and a Māori Television channel. This is the only nationwide television channel to have the majority of its prime-time content delivered in Māori, despite the fact that te reo is an official language equal to English.
Although films have been made in New Zealand since the 1920s, it was only from the 1970s that New Zealand films began to be produced in significant numbers. Films such as Sleeping Dogs and Goodbye Pork Pie achieved local success and lauched the careers of actors and directors including Sam Neill, Geoff Murphy and Roger Donaldson. In the early 1990s, New Zealand film began to attract international acclaim, for example Jane Campion's Academy Award-winning film The Piano
, Lee Tamahori's Once Were Warriors
and Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures
. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Jackson filmed The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in New Zealand, using a mostly New Zealand crew and many New Zealand actors in minor parts. Many non-New Zealand productions, primarily from Hollywood but also from Bollywood, have been made in New Zealand. Film industry insiders are divided on whether this benefits or harms the New Zealand film industry; however some New Zealand actors, such as Lucy Lawless (Xena) have clearly benefited from these overseas productions.Sports
Sport has a major role in New Zealand's culture; this is particularly the case with rugby union. Other popular sports include cricket, netball, basketball, lawn bowling, soccer (the most popular football code in terms of participation in New Zealand) and rugby league. Also popular are golf, tennis, cycling, field hockey, skiing, snowboarding, softball (current Men's International Softball Federation World Champions, 1996, 2000, 2004) and a variety of water sports, particularly surfing, sailing, whitewater kayaking, surf lifesaving skills and rowing. In the latter, New Zealand enjoyed an extraordinary magic 45 minutes when winning four successive gold medals at the 2005 world championships. The country is internationally recognised for performing well on a medals-to-population ratio at Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games. Equestrian sportsmen and sportswomen make their mark in the world, with Mark Todd being chosen international "Horseman of the Century". Other internationally famous New Zealand sportspeople include cricket player Sir Richard Hadlee, rugby player Jonah Lomu, sailor Sir Peter Blake and 2005 US Open golf tournament winner Michael Campbell.
Rugby union is closely linked to New Zealand's national identity. The national rugby team, the All Blacks, has the best record of any national team. They hosted and won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, and will host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The haka, a traditional Māori challenge, is traditionally performed by the All Blacks before the start of international matches.
Cricket is regarded as New Zealand's main summer sport, and the New Zealand cricket team (known as 'The Black Caps') usually ranks in the top six teams in the world in both test cricket and the shorter one day forms of the game. Netball is New Zealand's most prominent women's sport, and the New Zealand national team, the Silver Ferns, have been world champions on several occasions. New Zealand is one of the leading nations in world yachting, especially open-water long-distance or round-the-world races. In inshore yachting, Team New Zealand won the America's Cup regatta in 1995 and successfully defended it in 2000.
New Zealand is regarded by some as a haven for extreme sports and adventure tourism. Its reputation in extreme sports extends from the establishment of the world's first commercial bungee jumping operation in Auckland in 1986, and its roots in adventure tourism can be traced all the way back to Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953.Public holidays
There are two types of public holidays in New Zealand:Statutory Holidays, which are legislated by lawProvincial Anniversary Days, which commemorate the founding of the province or an early settlement event.
Under current legislation, workers who work on a public holiday must be given equivalent time off on another day and be paid time-and-a-half.Bibliography
Carolyn Bain. Lonely Planet New Zealand (2006) 772 pagesDavid Bateman, ed. Bateman New Zealand Encyclopedia (2005)Michael King. The Penguin History of New Zealand (2003)Keith Sinclair and Raewyn Dalziel. A History of New Zealand (2000)A H McLintock, ed. Encyclopedia of New Zealand 3 vol (1966)Philippa Mein Smith. A Concise History of New Zealand (2005)New Zealand Official Yearbook (annual)External links
Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New ZealandMinistry for Culture and Heritage - includes information on flag, anthems and coat of armsNew Zealand Government portalCongressional Research Service (CRS) Reports regarding New ZealandNew Zealand weatherNZHistory.net.nz New Zealand history websiteStatistics New Zealand - Official statisticsTourism New Zealand