Mountainous, partly volcanic, and situated approximately 1,600 km southeast of Australia, New Zealand is the biggest of the island groups that constitute the Pacific. It consists of two large islands, which are separated by Cook Strait, as well as several smaller islands, and various small territories in the Pacific Ocean. The country’s temperate climate has wide regional variations; the northern part of the North Island being subtropical while in the southern extremity of the south Island winter snow is common. Nearly three – quarters of New Zealanders live on the North Island and most of them in the cities. New Zealand roads are generally quiet and make for excellent driving. Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city. Vibrant Wellington, the seat of government as well as the unofficial cultural center of the country, has a cosmopolitan buzz that is readily discernible.
New Zealand has a liberal and progressive political history, pioneering votes for women in 1893, introducing a welfare state including a health service in 1938, and having a creditable record in ethnic relations. The first settlers, the Maori, arrived from Polynesia in about AD950 Today, although most Maoris have adopted western lifestyles, their culture lives on in their language, art, and extended family groups. In 1642 the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was probably the first European to sight the islands, and in 1769 Captain James Cook was the first to land on them. February 6 is celebrated annually as the “Waitangi Day”, New Zealand’s national holiday. The period that followed was characterized by settlement by whalers and sealers, and by Maori tribal welfare using modern firearms. This conflict came to an end when the Maori chiefs coded sovereignty to the British Crown in the Treaty of Waitangi, which was signed on this day in the year 1840.After this date systematic and mostly peaceful colonization took place. Aotearoa, which means “Land of the Long White Cloud “, is the Maori name for New Zealand.
Geologically, New Zealand is a relatively young country. The Southern Alps in the South Island emerged from the sea in the course of the past 10 to 15 million years, while the volcanic action that shaped much of North Island occurred between 1 and 4 million years ago. New Zealand’s North Island is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and has hundreds of active volcanoes, which are erupting all the time. The hot, volcanic rocks heat underground water, which bubbles up through cracks to form boiling hot springs. Sometimes the water gets so hot it turns to steam. These forces the water above it upwards, until it bursts into the air in a tall, spectacular spout, called a geyser.
Three volcanoes dominate the central plateau while Lake Taupo, the country’s largest natural lake, occupies an ancient crater. In the South Island the Southern Alps form a northeast-southwest oriented ice capped central massif with Mt. Cook at its center. The flanks of the massif are descended by the Glaciers. The rugged, forested coastline of the South Island’s far southwest, deeply indented with fiord’s comprises Fiordland, the country’s largest National Park. The forested slopes on the Western side fall steeply to the sea.
Apart from the various national parks, large areas of grass and a warm, damp climate make New Zealand ideal for farming, especially raising sheep and cattle. About half of New Zealand’s exports are agricultural products. The country is one of the world’s leading exporters of wool, frozen meat, and dairy products such as butter and cheese. The South Island’s Clyde Dam, a hydropower plant harnesses the power of New Zealand’s rivers. This together with its small population and the lack of heavy industry, make it one of the world’s least polluted countries. New Zealand is very proud of its “Clean Green “image.
Many tourists visit New Zealand for its outdoor lifestyle. New Zealand’s pleasant climate and beautiful countryside make it ideal for outdoor activities. New Zealander’s enjoy sports of all kinds, from hiking and mountain climbing on canoeing, yachting, and rugby. Rugby is the national sport of New Zealand. Success in the sports is a great source of pride. You would be amazed to know about Maori Art. The neck pendant represents Tiki, one of the Maori’s gods, and is worn to bring good luck. It is carved from green stone, a kind of hard jade found on the South Island. Because New Zealand lies in the southern hemisphere, it can grow crops when its customers in the north are in the middle of their winter.
The Chinese gooseberry was introduced into New Zealand in about 1990 and was later renamed the kiwi fruit after the country’s famous bird. New Zealand is now the world’s principal producer, and exports kiwi fruit worldwide. New Zealand’s isolated position has allowed many unique plants and animals to develop there. The most famous are the flightless birds, such as the kakapo and kiwi. These birds lost the ability to fly because they had no enemies and did not need to be able to fly away. The long-beaked kiwi is New Zealand’s national emblem.
You don’t have to be into bungee jumping or lord of the rings to put New Zealand on your list of dream destinations. Marlborough and Nelson, districts at the Northern end of south island, offer a stunningly beautiful coastline with mountains and countless islands sliced by tranquil, azure inlets, while these islands are some of the world’s best wine producers and vineyards.
Imagine a land where everyone lives within easy reach of unspoiled beaches, lush forest trails, gently rolling farmland and sparkling rivers where mountains are shrouded in legend and the surrounding islands are sub-tropical idylls, rich in rare flora and fauna where the inhabitants have some of the world’s best culinary ingredients and finest wines right on their doorstep. New Zealand’s varied natural scenery, combining quite harbors and sunlit beaches, with volcanoes, lakes, alpine snowfields and fiords, draws more than 1.5 million visitors per year. Tourism is second only to primary industry. Most of all, it is nature’s attractions that will capture your imaginations. In just three weeks you can discover the diversity of land and activities that the island offers.