|Country Information & Lifestyle|
Land of the Long White Cloud
New Zealand - known by the Maori's as Aotearoa, the "Land of the Long White Cloud", one of the most beautiful, awesome and spectacular places on earth. Made up of North and South Islands and numerous smaller ones such as Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands.
New Zealand also includes the Cooks Island and nine, self-governing but in free association, Tokelau and the Ross Dependency,(New Zealand's territorial claim to Antarctica). With Hawaii and Rapa Nui,(Easter Island), New Zealand forms what is known by anthropologists as the Triangle of Polynesia.
The country is noted for its geographic isolation being separated from Australia to the north-west by the Tasman Sea, 2,000 km2 across and the closest neighbours are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. The population is mainly of European descent with the indigenous Maoris the largest minority.
The country is full of rugged mountains, untouched beauty, superb skiing and snowboarding, miles of sandy beaches and offers so much for everyone with such a diverse landscape and climate. In New Zealand you will be surrounded by some of the most pristine, awe-inspiring outdoor scenery on earth. The movie The Lord of the Rings has brought New Zealand to the world's attention and many people who have made the trip Down Under name New Zealand as their favourite destination.
The English-speaking population, temperate climate, a clean, safe image, low living costs, high marks for health care and highs standards of education - they all combine to make New Zealand a great place to live either part or all of the year.
In this uncrowded, unspoiled Pacific-island paradise you will have towering, snow-capped peaks, fern-filled rain forests, black-sand beaches, healing hot springs and just about everything in between.
The flightless Kiwi bird, the national namesake of New Zealand, used to run in millions and the official count in 2003 was less than 50,000. It is possible that you might catch a glimpse of this bird in Coromandel.
The Dutchman, Abel Tasman, first sighted and named the island in 1642 but it was not until Capt Cook charted the coastline in 1769 that the country experienced whalers and traders beginning to arrive. The first European settlers came in the early 19th century at the Bay of Islands and established a missionary station and mass immigration happened after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.
The indigenous people, the Maori's keep alive their culture and language which is rich and varied and the Marae, a communal plaza provides a focus for social cultural and spiritual life. Traditional carvers keep culture alive, every piece tells a story which can only be ready by those who know.
Oral culture is rich with stories and legends and the creation of New Zealand is described in legend by Maui. This God was a cheeky trickster who managed among other things to harness the sun in order to make the days longer. However his biggest claim to fame was his fishing up of the North Island which he described as Te Ika A Maui,(the fish of Maui).
The North Island has so many beautiful places it is impossible to do justice to them all but here are just a few. In sub-tropical tropical Northland a welcome awaits you among the blue, green and gold of beaches, bays and forests. Auckland with its magnificent harbour, restaurants, shops and outgoing, friendly people. Rotorua surely must be one of the most unusual places with its geothermal phenomena and Maori culture.
The Bay of Plenty has extraordinary coastal beauty where you can relax and indulge in all kinds of adventure possible. Eastland is where the sun touches before anywhere else in New Zealand and the Maori culture thrives here.
The snow-capped mountain Taranki,(Gliding Peak), has a lovely legend. Taranki once lived with the northern North Island great volcanoes, (Tongariro, Ruapehu & Ngauruhoe), but was banished for falling in love with Tongariroa's wife a smaller volcano called Pihanga.
Awe-inspiring Lake Taupo, created by one of the world most exciting volcanic eruptions and Hawkes Bay is the premium wines area with magnificent beaches. Manawatu-Wanganui is the serene, green heart of North Island with the wild Whanganui river, dune lakes, gorges.
Wellington is the capital and is a city with two faces. The culture side with art, theatres, galleries and then the blockbuster scenery, familiar to everyone who has watched the Lord of the Rings. In Waiarapa is the scent of Pinot Noir is in the air in the historic vineyard villages.
Coromandel has vast mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, sweeping coastlines, deep indented fjords and lush rain forests, along with rolling farmland. Here is a haven for people seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation as well as a playground for thrill seekers and adventurers. You will possibly glimpse the unique flightless bird, the Kiwi here and see an abundance of natural plants found nowhere else on earth.
The South Island is spectacular with the Southern Alps,(Ka Tiritir o te Moana, caressed by clouds and soaked by a deep sense of spirit. The mountains of the Southern Alps cut a spectacular sight against the sky as they ride across the southern island are are featured frequently in the film trilogy Lord of the Rings.
Mount Cook, Aoraki, is a link between the supernatural and the natural world, and you will find this mountain's grandeur awe inspiring. Marlborough is on an exquisitely pretty plain framed by mountains and a passion for food and wine lure will you here.
People on the East Coast are few and the landscapes wild, here you can follow in footsteps of Pounamu hunters, gold prospectors and explorers. Christchurch-Canterbury is a captivating world of rivers and coastal plains and every day will surprise you, and Lake Wanaka is where each season paints a picture.
Queenstown's fabled alpine scenery is for real and Central Otago's powerful, moody landscape will touch your soul. Dunedin is charming and wild and is the oldest city in New Zealand, full of history, stunning scenery and wildlife.
The Caitlins in Southland has a surprising natural beach and curious fossilized forest of Curio Bay, at Nugget Point you will encounter fur seals, penguins and sea lions. A touch of enchantment in the air like you've slipped through the gateway into a different world.
Fiorlands landscape is carved by glaciers and it is remote, stupendous almost supernatural. You'll think you have arrived at the end of the earth.
New Zealand would not be New Zealand without the mention of the Haka the electrifying ancient dance performed by the All Blacks at the start of every rugby match.