About New Zealand
New Zealand is fascinating and unique in the world. See below some of what makes Aotearoa (New Zealand) so special.
(Information based on the website 100% Pure New Zealand.)
Introduction to New Zealand
- The original Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa.
- We have amazing scenery, fabulous festivals, superb food and wine, and magical outdoor experiences.
- We have a unique culture, a huge range of outdoor activities, and very friendly people.
- Over one-third of New Zealand comprises protected parkland and marine reserves.
- We have a wide variety of scenery, vegetation and geography, opportunities to camp, mountain bike, fish, hike, kayak and so much more.
- New Zealand is a haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation as well as a playground for thrill-seekers and adventurers.
- We have 4.7 million inhabitants, of which one-third live in the exciting and vibrant metropolis of Auckland.
- New Zealand is multicultural because many Kiwis are either immigrants or their descendants.
- The first settlers were the Maori, followed by large numbers of immigrants from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, people from neighbouring Pacific Islands including Samoa and Tonga, Chinese and Korean migrants, and new residents from a wide range of countries such as the US, South Africa, Zimbabwe and India.
- We are a modern, secular, democratic society, with no ingrained class system.
- Freedom of speech, expression and religious beliefs are guaranteed by law and widely practised.
- Favourite sports include rugby (the All Blacks are the national team), cricket, hiking, kayaking, fishing, white-water rafting, football, basketball and skiing.
- Varies greatly throughout the country
- It could be sunny and warm on the East Coast while pouring with rain on the West Coast – and four seasons in one day is not that unusual!
- The range of temperatures between winter and summer is less extreme than in most countries.
- The maximum temperature during summer ranges between 20-30°C (68-86°F).
- In winter, the average maximum temperature ranges between 10-15°C (50-59°F). The northern half of the North Island is the warmest part of the country throughout the year, which is perfect for outdoor activities.
Best travel times
- New Zealand is a popular summer destination, both for overseas and domestic visitors. This is partly due to the fascinating Maori culture, amazing scenery and the huge success of the films "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit".
- Summer and winter daily maximum temperatures vary by only 10-15ºC in most of the country, making New Zealand an ideal holiday destination year-round.
- Best travel times are the warmer high-season months (November to April).
- Similar to Australia, try to avoid school holidays (particularly mid-December to late January) and public holidays if possible.
- Summer (December to February) is the best time for food and wine festivals, concerts and sports events in the main cities like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
- June to August is skiing high season.
- The cooler, less touristy ‘shoulder’ periods (October/November and April/May) are great times of year to travel.
- You need to be well prepared for all weather conditions when travelling through NZ, because the weather can change quickly.
Things people might not know about New Zealand
- Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not have many dangerous or poisonous animals (exceptions are the native Katipo spider, its introduced cousin the Australian redback, and the introduced German and common wasps (yellow jackets) and the honey bee).
- In NZ you will hear the word “Kiwi” quite a lot – on the one hand there is the native flightless bird and the Kiwifruit, and it is also used as a slang term for a New Zealander.
- New Zealand was the first nation to have universal suffrage - in 1893 it became legal for all male and female citizens of New Zealand to vote.
- New Zealand is one of only three countries that have two official (and of equal standing) national anthems. The first is God Save the Queen (the United Kingdom National Anthem) and the other is God Defend New Zealand (sung in Maori and English).
- Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world and is known as “the city of sails”. It has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.
- Wellington, “The Coolest Little Capital in the World”, is the southernmost capital city on the planet.
- New Zealand is a plastic nation – many personal financial transactions are made with a card – credit or otherwise. Most shops offer EFTPOS (similar to the UK chip and pin that appeared two years later) and cash is seen less and less. So ensure you bring a credit card to NZ if possible.
- New Zealand was the last major landmass to be populated (with the exception of the Polar Regions).
- Sir Edmund Hillary – the first person to reach the peak of Mount Everest (with his climbing partner Tenzing Norgay) was a New Zealander (born in Auckland) and his face is on the New Zealand $5 bill.