Full country name: New Zealand
Population: 4,414,400 (4.4 million)
People: 67.6% European, 14.6% Māori,9.2% Asian, 6.9% Pacific peoples, 11.1% New Zealander, 1% ethnicities.
Language: English, Maori, Samoan, French, Hindi, Yue and Northern Chinese. Sign Language.
Religion: Australia has no state religion,, 64% Christian, 26% Roman Catholic, 19% Anglican, 2.1% Buddhism, 1.7 % Islam, 0.8% Hinduism, 0.5% Judaism.
Government: Unitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchy
Monarch: Elizabeth II
Governor-General: Sir Jerry Mateparae
Prime Minister: John Key
GDP per head: $35,374
GDP growth: 1.1%
Major Industries: Food processing, textiles, machinery and transportation equipment, finance,tourism (to NZ), mining (in NZ)
Major trading partners: Australia, United States, Japan, China
January to February: Summer City Programme (Series of festivals around in and around Wellington).February: Marlborough Food & Wine Festival, Blenheim); International Festival of the Arts (even-numbered years; Wellington).March: Golden Shears Sheep-Shearing Contest, Masterton.November: Canterbury Show Week; Christchurch.
In New Zealand, currencies of countries like Australia, the UK, USA, Canada, Germany and Japan can all be easily changed. Major travelers’ cheques and credit cards are also easily accepted.
Whangaparaoa Bay Whangaparaoa Bay (Cape Runaway) is located 50 km west of the North Island’s East Cape. The beaches are littered with driftwood. An old Anglican church, nestled under Norfolk pines, is a favorite with tourists from, far and near.
A small town on the west coast of the South Island, Harihari was in the news in 1931, when Guy Menzies completed the first solo flight across the Tasman Sea from Australia. The town is now known a popular attraction for coastal walks, birdwatching and trout and salmon fishing.
Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third largest island, is an ornithologist’s delight, with tuis, parakeets, kakas and bellbirds abounding. The kiwi, rare in both the North and South Island, is common over much of this island. A good network of walking tracks and huts exist in the northern part of the island. You can avail of excellent-value stay-homes on the island.
New Zealand was discovered by Polynesian navigator Kupe in 800 AD. According to legend, around 1350 AD, many other people followed from Kupe’s homeland of Hawaiki. In 1642 and 1769, two well-known explorers, Abel Tasman and Captain James Cook circumnavigated the region.
Under the British, between 1839 to 1841, New Zealand was under the jurisdiction of New South Wales territory of Australia. In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, with the Maori ceding sovereignty of their country to Britain in exchange for protection and guaranteed possession of their lands.
By late 19th century, the discovery of gold and advancements in wide-scale sheep farming led to New Zealand becoming an efficient and mostly self-reliant country. This was also the time when sweeping social changes were introduced including women’s suffrage, social security, the encouragement of trade unions and the introduction of child care services.
New Zealand was given dominion status in the British Empire in 1907. It was granted autonomy by Britain in 1931 and independence in 1947. The economy continued to prosper until the worldwide recession in the 1980s. Today it has stabilized, thanks largely to an export-driven recovery. Internationally, New Zealand was hailed during the mid-1980s for its anti-nuclear stance, at the risk of fall-outs with the USA and France.
Recently, a clumsy take-it-or-leave-it attempt by the New Zealand government to offer financial reparations has resulted in an upsurge of militant Maori protests over land rights. The issue of reconciliation remains at the top of the political agenda.
In New Zealand, the dominant groups are the Pakeha and the Maori and the smaller ones are Polynesians, Croatians, Indians and Chinese. The love of sport and outdoor pursuits runs through the entire population. Christianity is the most common religion. English and Maori are the two official languages with the former being more widely spoken.
New Zealand art values innovation, integrity and craftsmanship that reflects the country’s heritage. Wood, stone, shell and bone carvings are readily available while larger works such as tukutuku (wood paneling) can be seen in most shops. Paua shell, greenstone, greywacke and greenwacke pebbles are often fashioned into jewellery that takes its inspiration from the landscape. There is a lively theatre scene in the country, especially in Wellington, and a number of galleries, including the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, which is the oldest viewing room in New Zealand and one of its best.
Located 1600 km south-east of Australia, New Zealand stretches from north to south and consists of two large islands (North Island and South Island) and many smaller islands. The country also has many rivers and lakes like the Whanganui River and the beautiful Waikaremoana, Taupo and Wanaka lakes.
New Zealand’s flora consists of giant forests, rainforests, alpine and sub alpine herb fields and scrub and tussock. One of the most noticeable plants is the pohutukawa (known as the New Zealand Christmas tree), which comes alive with brilliant red flowers around December.
Native fauna is limited, with the only indigenous mammals being bats. Bird life, however, has thrived with the most common species being the morepork, tui, weka and the kea. Introduced species include pigs, goats, possums, dogs, cats, deer and sheep.
The North Island and South Island, because of their different geological features, have two distinct patterns of rainfall. In the South Island, the Southern Alps act as a barrier for the moisture-laden winds from the Tasman Sea. The North Island’s rainfall is more evenly distributed. Temperatures are a few degrees cooler in the South Island. Both islands receive snow in winter.
The overwhelming majority of visitors arrive by air. There are three airports that handle international flights: Auckland (the major exit/entry point), Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. Departure tax on international flights is NZ$25. A few cruise ships visit New Zealand, but there are no regular passenger ship services and working your way across the Pacific as crew on a yacht now seems a thing of the past.
It makes great sense to fly in New Zealand – and enjoy the views of mountains and volcanoes on the way. A number of airlines offer great discounts and link the important part of the country. New Zealand is also well-connected by a vast bus network. The big bus operators are InterCity, Newmans and Mt Cook Landline (South Island). Train travel is faster but routes are less. Car travel is recommended as the roads are good and well signposted and the distances short. There are also many boat services that operate between the islands.
The weather in New Zealand is pleasant all through the year. But the busiest tourist months are from November to April when it is warmer. As expected, the ski resort towns are more busy during the winter months.
Rotoruais a city on the southern shores of the lake of the same name, in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand. Rotorua is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists; the tourism industry is by far the largest industry in the district. The city is known for its geothermal activity, and features geysers – notably the Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa – and hot mud pools. This thermal activity is sourced tothe Rotorua caldera, on which the city lies. Rotorua is home to the Waiariki Institute of Technology. Rotorua is also home to botanical gardens and historic architecture. Known as a spa town and major tourist resort since the 1800s, many of its buildings hint at this history. Government Gardens, close to the lakeshore at the eastern end of the town, are a particular point of pride. Another of Rotorua’s attractions is mountain biking. Whakarewarewa Forest has been described as ‘the Disneyland of mountain biking' and includes mountain bike trails, where the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships were held in August 2006.
When to go:
Queenstownis a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island. It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains such as The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and just above the town; Ben Lomond and Queenstown Hill. A resort town, Queenstown is a centre for adventure tourism. Skiing, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking, skateboarding, tramping and fly fishing are all strong promotional themes. Queenstown is a major centre for snow sports in New Zealand, with people from all over the country and many parts of the world travelling to ski at the four main mountain skifields (Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone). Cross country skiing is also available at the Waiorau Snow Farm, located near the village of Cardrona. In recent years, Queenstown’s hostels have become a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Queenstown provides adventure tourism during the day and a vibrant nightlife scene during the evenings. Queenstown is also gaining popularity as a honeymoon destination.Locally, Queenstown has a reputation as one of New Zealand’s wine and cuisine centres. Queenstown lies close to the centre of a small wine producing region, reputed to be the world’s southernmost. Pinot noir produced in this area fetches premium prices. Queenstown also has a reputation for being the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’. Queenstown and the surrounding area contains many locations used in the filming of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy as well as the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In early 2010 Queenstown featured for 17 minutes in I Hate Luv Storys a Bollywood Super-hit.
When to go:
Explore Queenstown and book New Zealand Holiday Tour from Kuoni SOTC.
South Island’s largest city of Christchurch is set in the typical New Zealand setting of rural sheep-strewn fields. Beautiful Christchurch has squares, roses, a rugby-mad population and is a thriving, modern city. It is the perfect take-off point for mountains, ocean beaches, rivers, lakes and wide-open spaces.
Population: 331, 400Area: 45,240 hectares (111,742.8 acres)Country: New ZealandTime: GMT/UTC + 12Telephone Area Code: 03
Every mid-to-late January, the World Busker Festival draws international and local performers to the Cathedral Square and Oxford Terrace. There’s also the three-month long Summer-Times celebration, which includes outdoor concerts, fireworks and children’s entertainment. The longest running multi-sport event in the world, Speight’s Coast to Coast, finishes on Christchurch’s Sumner Beach.
In mid-winter there’s the biennial Christchurch Arts Festival, a diverse program of performing arts, jazz, cabaret and classical music. There is also plenty of rugby action in the cold months; if you’re lucky you may catch an international such as the Bledisloe.
Christchurch is midway down the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island and is the capital of the Canterbury region. Exploring it on foot or bicycle is easy. Driving in the city is more complicated with the many one-way streets around the place. The main city proper marked out by four avenues – Bealey, Moorhouse, Fitzgerald and Rolleston.
Colombo St, which runs from the north to the south, is the main shopping strip. Oxford Terrace nearby is a popular bar and restaurant locality. New Regent St has pretty Spanish Mission-style architecture and upscale shops and cafes. To the west lie the Botanic Gardens and beyond, the tranquil suburbs that are home to the exquisite gardens for which Christchurch is famous.
When to go:
Christchurch has a temperate climate, although summers can be hotter than the norm for the South Island. As a result of the shelter of the nearby mountains, they are pretty dry too. Winter temperatures can be cold with snow sometimes falling even at sea level. The peak travel time in New Zealand is the summer school holidays – from late December to late January. This is also the best time for beach weather.
International Antarctic Center
Visitors to the facility can experience Antarctic-type activities such as being very cold (dubbed the ‘Snow and Ice Experience’, where you can explore a sub-zero snow cave and slide down a tunnel swept by freezing winds) and rides on a HÃ¤gglund Snowmobile. It is all very well presented and hands-on.
This pretty town is 82 km from Christchurch. Akaroa was claimed by the British just days before a ship of French colonists arrived in 1840. They stayed regardless, and left their Gallic mark via street and house names and historic wooden villas. The good restaurants came later, but help with the Francophile image.
The history of settlement in Christchurch stretches back to about a 1,000 years when the Waitaha tribe travelled from the North Island’s east coast to Pegasus Bay to hunt the large moa bird for food. By about 1450 the moa had been killed off, and large tracts of the forests had been burnt. Other tribes too started migrating to the region and by 1800, one of them, the Ngai Tahu, controlled the coast.
It was in 1815 that Europeans first set foot in the region. In May 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi boat sailed into Akaroa harbor and the Ngai Tahu chiefs signed on behalf of their tribes. The vast holdings of the tribe were a compelling attraction for the colonizers. In the 1840s and 1850s numerous land transactions were carried out.
Early attempts to establish farming communities began in the late 1830s. In 1847 John Godley and Edward Wakefield met to plan what was to become the city of Christchurch. Wakefield was a visionary who believed that, unlike other anarchic cities, towns could be planned before settlers arrived. Village churches, shops and schools would be built along English lines, with imported gentry controlling large runs of land. The town’s founding is often reported to the arrival in 1850 of four ships that brought the first settlers.
Christchurch’s golden moment under the sun was at the great International Exhibition in 1906-7. This event attracted nearly two million visitors, at a time when the total population of the country was less than half of that. The emergence of Auckland as an international player and the establishment of Wellington as the nation’s capital saw Christchurch settle into an affluent, confident small city role.
The city is New Zealand’s main international gateway with flights to the South Island, Australia and a limited number of other countries. Air New Zealand is the main domestic carrier and there are daily direct flights between important cities. Trains run to Picton via Blenheim with connections to the Inter-islander ferry to Wellington. There are alos regular coach services.
Christchurch’s bus service is good, cheap and efficient. Most city buses run from the well-organized Bus Exchange. They can be accessed from Colombo Street. Christchurch is ideal for cycling. Hired bikes can be delivered to your accommodation.
Auckland has a very unique location as it is surrounded on nearly every side by the Pacific Ocean. Lush subtropical forests dot the nearby hills and islands. The city’s various bays are ideal for swimming, water sports and yachting.
Ancient rocks in the city point out to a more than 1000-year occupation of the region. Many Islanders from New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours migrating here as well as an influx of immigrants from Asian countries have resulted in the city acquiring a very cosmopolitan feel.
Population: 1.2 million (greater Auckland)Area: city boundary: 580 sq km (224 sq mi); greater Auckland: 16,140 sq km (6232 sq mi)Country: New ZealandTime: GMT/UTC+12Telephone Area Code: 09
January: Auckland Anniversary and Regatta.March: Pasifika Festival (Celebration of Polynesian culture through music and performance at Western Springs). November: Ellerslie Flower Show (at the Botanic Gardens). December: Auckland Cup at the Ellerslie Race Course.
Auckland is made up of numerous cities – main Auckland City, North Shore City, Manukau City and Waitakere City – forming a large urban sprawl. The waterfront houses America’s Cup Village and Princess Wharf. Queen St. is the commercial centre of the city. Parnell has restaurants and boutiques. The beaches are at Okahu Bay and Mission Bay. There are 22 parks in Auckland, with Auckland Domain being one of the biggest one.
When to go:
November to April is the best period to visit Auckland when it is comparatively warmer. If spending time on beaches is your idea of a perfect holiday, then January and February are the best months. There are also more crowds during the Easter weekend, Labor Day weekend (late October) and the mid-year school holidays.
Hauraki Gulf Islands
You cannot access all the 47 islands that make up the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park – some of them have been designated as refuges for the preservation of plants and animals and birds. Rangitoto is a good picnic spot. Waiheke has plenty of picturesque bays and beaches good for swimming and sea kayaking. And Great Barrier Island can be used as a take-off point for the Coromandel Peninsula.
Aucklanders enjoy a mild climate and great natural surroundings. So it is logical that they enjoy a healthy outdoor lifestyle. With 80,000 pleasure boats, the city claims one if the highest per capita boat-ownership in the world. Apart from boating the citizens enjoy swimming, surfing, wind-surfing, sea kayaking and other water sports.
There are many walking trails and parks in the city. Jogging, cycling and inline skating are also popular activities. Golf can be played throughout the year at one of city’s 20 courses. And for those with adventure streaking through their veins, there are the extreme sports: rock climbing, paragliding and skydiving, bungee jumping and canyoning.
According to oral history of the Maoris they came to the New Zealand islands in canoes from other parts of Polynesia. Archaeological evidence of human settlement dates back some 800 years. Many of the earliest sites have been located along coastlines and harbour mouths. By the time European settlers arrived in 1839, tribal warfare, disease and destruction of the area through hunting and forest clearance had depleted the Maori populations.
In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, which promised protection of Maori land if the Maori recognized British sovereignty. This was also the year Auckland was chosen as the capital of the new colony. Twenty five years later, the capital was shifted to Wellington.
Relations with the Maori seemed quite cordial during the township’s early years. The Maori, in fact, supplied most of the fresh produce for the township and provided labour for the Auckland’s many projects. But despite the treaty, the encroachment of European settlers on Maori land was continuous, leading to a series of skirmishes and conflicts. Massive confiscations of land took palce, the ramifications of which are still being addressed today. Zealand became a world leader in social welfare in the turn of the 20th century. It embraced the vote for women, the old age pension, a national child welfare program, minimum wages and a 40-hour working week. But the country suffered heavily in WWI, with many young men killed or wounded fighting for Britain.
In the 1980s New Zealand declared itself a nuclear-free state, causing some friction with the US, whose warships it refused entry, and the French, who were testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific. In 1985 French secret service agents sank the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland Harbor. A great cause for national celebration was New Zealand boat Black Magic’s historic win in the America’s Cup race in 1995. The triumph was repeated in 2000.
Most international flights to New Zealand go through Auckland. Direct flights connect to and from west coast USA, east coast Australia and Perth, London and Frankfurt and several cities in Asia. There’s a departure tax for all international flights from Auckland payable at the airport.
Bus services connect Auckland to the bigger towns and main tourist areas. Trains arrive at and depart from Auckland train station on Beach Rd. It is easy to hire a car and drive around New Zealand. Remember, Kiwis drive on the left.
A good bus service called the Link connects the interesting areas of the city center. The Tranz Metro train service runs from Auckland station on Beach Rd (West) to Waitakere and south to Papakura. The best way to move around in Auckland is by car. There are many car-hire operators all over the place. Cyclists prefer hiring bicycles. Taxis are easily available. There are ferries operating between the city center and various spots on the North Shore and the gulf islands.
To see these attractive places in Auckland, book Amazing North Island – New Zealand holiday package.
Christchurch : is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country’s third-largest urban area. The city was named by the Canterbury Association, which settled the surrounding province of Canterbury. The name of Christchurch was agreed on at the first meeting of the association on 27 March 1848. It was suggested by John Robert Godley, who had attended Christ Church, Oxford. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand.
Queenstown : is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island. It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains such as The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and just above the town; Ben Lomond and Queenstown Hill. A resort town, Queenstown is a centre for adventure tourism. Skiing, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking, skateboarding, tramping and fly fishing are all strong promotional themes. Queenstown is a major centre for snow sports in New Zealand, with people from all over the country and many parts of the world travelling to ski at the four main mountain skifields (Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone). Cross country skiing is also available at the Waiorau Snow Farm, located near the village of Cardrona. In recent years, Queenstown’s hostels have become a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Queenstown provides adventure tourism during the day and a vibrant nightlife scene during the evenings. Queenstown is also gaining popularity as a honeymoon destination.Locally, Queenstown has a reputation as one of New Zealand’s wine and cuisine centres. Queenstown lies close to the centre of a small wine producing region, reputed to be the world’s southernmost. Pinot noir produced in this area fetches premium prices. Queenstown also has a reputation for being the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’. Queenstown and the surrounding area contains many locations used in the filming of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy as well as the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In early 2010 Queenstown featured for 17 minutes in I Hate Luv Storys a Bollywood Super-hit.
Rotorua : is a city on the southern shores of the lake of the same name, in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand. Rotorua is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists; the tourism industry is by far the largest industry in the district. The city is known for its geothermal activity, and features geysers – notably the Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa – and hot mud pools. This thermal activity is sourced to the Rotorua caldera, on which the city lies. Rotorua is home to the Waiariki Institute of Technology. Rotorua is also home to botanical gardens and historic architecture. Known as a spa town and major tourist resort since the 1800s, many of its buildings hint at this history. Government Gardens, close to the lakeshore at the eastern end of the town, are a particular point of pride. Another of Rotorua’s attractions is mountain biking. Whakarewarewa Forest has been described as ‘the Disneyland of mountain biking' and includes mountain bike trails, where the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships were held in August 2006. Auckland : in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with 31 percent of the country’s population. The 2011 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Auckland 3rd equal place in the world on its list, while The Economist’s World’s Most Livable Cities index of 2011 ranked Auckland in 9th place. Auckland is home to many cultures. The majority of inhabitants claim European – predominantly British – descent, but substantial Māori, Pacific Islander and Asian communities exist as well. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world and a higher proportion of people of Asian origin than the rest of New Zealand. Ethnic groups from all corners of the world have a presence in Auckland, making it by far the country’s most cosmopolitan city. Auckland is popularly known as the ‘City of Sails’ because the harbour is often dotted with hundreds of yachts and has more per capita than any other city in the world. Most major international corporations have an Auckland office, as the city is the economic capital of the nation.
New Zealand’s capital city is located on a beautiful harbor harbor. It is a lively city of culture and arts and great ethnic restaurants and cafes. Buildings of interest include the Beehive (the executive wing of Parliament), the old Government Building (one of the largest all-wooden buildings in the world), the National Library, and the Katherine Mansfield Memorials (the property where the famous author was born in 1888). There are also museums, a zoo and stunning views of the city from the top of Mt Victoria. Cuba Street is a great shopping area. Lambton Quay is the primary business street.
Otago & Southland
Otago and Southland, which cover the south of the South Island. It has three main areas of interest: Queenstown, Fiordland National Park and Otago Peninsula.
Set in a glacial valley, Queenstown is synomynous with adrenaline-pumping activities: parasailing; schussing down icy rapids in jet boats; white-water rafting; and bungee jumping.
Fiordland National Park is a wilderness of mountains, ice and beech forests. At Milford Sound cruise ships bob toy-like beneath the shadows of towering mountains and waterfalls. There are classic alpine walks here.
Otago Peninsula is a significant wildlife area with woodland gardens, albatross, penguin and seal colonies, plus aquariums, museums and historic sites. Dunedin, a student city on the peninsula, is a hub for arts and entertainment. It has many museums, galleries and castles.
This cradle of Maori culture has many interesting museums, virgin beaches and diving spots (Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve was adjudged by Jacques Cousteau to be among the top 10 diving sites in the world), historic townsand flora and fauna reserves (Waipoua Kauri Forest).
If there is a difficult and challenging way to get from one point to another you can do it somewhere, somehow, in New Zealand.
Above the ground: Bungee jumping, parachuting, skydiving, abseiling and flying.
On the ground: Hiking, mountain bike riding, skiing, horse riding, rock climbing, and ‘zorbing’.
Underground: Surface caving, cave rafting, and hydro sliding.
On water: Jet-boarding, white-water sledging, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, surf- rafting, and scuba diving.
In addition, New Zealand is also one of the most popular destinations in the southern hemisphere for skiing and other winter sports because of its reliable and abundant snowfall.
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New Zealand Tourist Visa Requirements