New Zealand (or Aotearoa – land of the long white cloud), truly is one of the most picturesque and photogenic places on earth. A small island nation of just over 5 million people (as at June 2021), New Zealand is made up of two major land masses (North Island and South Island) and a number of smaller islands including Stewart Island located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The two main islands are divided by a 22km stretch of water called the Cook Strait.
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.
The country is made up of some of the worlds most spectacular landscapes, from vast mountain ranges, steaming volcanoes to sweeping coastlines. It is a natural playground for thrill seekers and adventurers and those who simply want to visit for the culture and landscapes.
While the land masses of the North Island and South Island are similar, approximately two thirds of the population lives in the North Island and the remainder in the South Island. The majority of New Zealand’s population is of European decent while Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, is the most ethnically diverse in the country and has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. Auckland has about one third of the population (over 1.6 million), followed by the capital city of Wellington and the South Island city of Christchurch (each has approx 400,000).
New Zealander’s are affectionately known as “Kiwis”. The name derives from the kiwi, a flightless bird native to New Zealand. It is also the national symbol. Kiwi’s are characterised as rugged, industrious problem solvers and people who innovate. Kiwi’s are great travellers themselves with many exploring and making an impact on the world (sport, business, politics, etc). Younger New Zealander’s often travel to England for working holidays before settling back in New Zealand and any New Zealander can travel and work in Australia indefinitely.
English is the predominant language in New Zealand. After WWII, Maori were discouraged from speaking their own language in schools and workplaces so it really only existed as a community language. Nowadays it has undergone a revitalisation and is declared one of New Zealand’s official languages with immersion in schools and tertiary sectors. Many places throughout the country have dual English and Maori names.
New Zealand’s free trade economy is dependant on International trade, with the principal export industries being agriculture, horticulture, fishing, forestry and mining. The major export partners are New Zealand’s trans-tasman neighbours, Australia, as well as the USA, United Kingdom and Japan. China and Asian markets are increasingly export destinations.
Tourism (prior to COVID-19) also contributes significantly and attracts travelers from every country with Australian’s being the travellers who visit the most. View videos of popular New Zealand destinations.
Climate and Weather
The climate varies between the North and South Islands and is quite complex.
The general climate is mild and temperate however areas in the far north experience warm subtropical temperatures while the far south is much cooler. Alpine conditions ensue in mountainous areas.
In the South Island, a North West wind – known as a Nor’Wester – can see heavy rainfall on the West Coast and a hot dry wind in Canterbury on the East Coast less than four hours drive away.
Visitors are advised to come prepared for all types of weather, as the temperature can change quite rapidly during the day.
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.
Achievements and Famous Kiwi’s
For a small nation, New Zealand has dominated the playing field in many areas. The major sporting code is Rugby Union (more commonly known as Rugby). Other codes include netball, cricket, soccer and rugby league.
New Zealand has also achieved highly in track and field, rowing, yachting and cycling. Mountaineering also features with Sir Edmund Hillary conquering Mt Everest in 1953.
Not only is New Zealand up there with their sporting prowess, but Kiwi’s are also responsible for some of the most famous inventions of all time. Adventure sport pioneer AJ Hackett introduced the Bungy Jump to the world in 1986 and Sir William Hamilton pioneered the Hamilton jet in 1954. The waterjet is the most advanced and innovative marine propulsion system in use today. Other credits include the referee’s whistle, the eggbeater, electric fence, disposable syringe and the national dessert – the Pavlova, a fluffy meringue of goodness.
Other famous New Zealander’s include Lord Rutherford who managed to split the atom. Sir Peter Jackson is a New Zealander most famous for his direction of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Burt Munro broke several world land speed records in the 1960’s, one of which still stands today. These iconic New Zealanders are just a handful among many more putting this beautiful country on the map every day.
It’s the world’s best country (again) according to Telegraph Travel readers. They’re quite good at Rugby, and Charles and Camilla are big fans, but there are many more reasons to start planning a trip to New Zealand. Check out the stunning slideshow of images and reasons why New Zealand is a contender for the most beautiful and liveable country. We think it could be a much longer list!read more
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