About New Zealand

New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses-the North Island, and the South Island (or Te Waipounamu)-and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometers (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometers (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Sometime between 1250 and 1300 CE, Polynesians settled in the islands that later were named New Zealand and developed a distinctive Māori culture. In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of Britain and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands. In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire and in 1907 it became a Dominion. Today, the majority of New Zealand's population of 4.7 million is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Reflecting this, New Zealand's culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration. The official languages are English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language, with English predominant.

New Zealand is a developed country and ranks highly in international comparisons of national performance, such as health, education, economic freedom and quality of life. Since the 1980s, New Zealand has transformed from an agrarian, regulated economy to a market economy. Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, who is currently Bill English. Queen Elizabeth II is the country's head of state and is represented by a governor-general, currently Dame Patsy Reddy. In addition, New Zealand is organized into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes. The Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau ; the Cook Islands and Niue; and the Ross Dependency, which is New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica. New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pacific Islands Forum, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Capital Wellington
Largest city Auckland
Official language and national language 96.1% English
3.7% Māori
0.5% NZ Sign
Area 268,021 km2 (103,483 sq mi)
Population 4,815,970
Currency New Zealand dollar ($) (NZD)
Time zone National Standard Time (UTC+8)
Country Code +64

The Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling to New Zealand

A few things you might want to bear in mind whilst on your travels in NZ. The intention is to ensure that all chance of tourist traits and mistakes are 'minimised', but never removed of course. The list has been compiled in best taste but of course some things will be different.

DO’s

Do – pick the right camper or car
First things first, you have to pick the right car for your trip. Be prepared for an onslaught of green and purple – Jucy is a young hip company has taken NZ by storm with their catchy logos, budget options and active social media pages. They’ve got it all – vans, big and small, budget and fancy cars and SUVs. You don’t really need a SUV in New Zealand. The only time you might need one is if you are coming in winter and plan to do some serious off-roading or go up to some of the more remote club ski fields; some dirt roads might turn to a mud fest.

Do – remember to drive on the left
Oh, and to make things more interesting, they drive on the left here. When people first arrive, they may be terrified to drive on the left, but it’s amazing how quickly you get used to it. You have to be pretty oblivious to forget it too. Frequently there are enormous arrow pointing you in the right direction on the roads, and in cities with intersections, there are also arrows on the medians pointing you in the right direction. All the roads here are well marked.

Do – get off the beaten path
Half of the beauty of New Zealand lies in getting lost and finding your own favorite little spots, and it’s one of the best reasons to get a car. Oh that road looks interesting, I wonder what’s down there? And 10 minutes later you’re at the most beautiful, remote beach bereft of life except for a couple of sea lions. Because New Zealand is so sparsely populated, you can get away with winging it and being spontaneous here. There is always a campsite and always somewhere to sleep.

Do – let faster traffic pass you
It takes a while to get used to the roads in New Zealand. This means a lot of the time if you’re a tourist, you’ll be going slower. It’s much better to drive slower and be safe. Because the roads are generally one lane in either direction, for someone to pass you, they have to usually cross the dividing lane and pass you in oncoming traffic’s lane, which is allowed, but also, is more dangerous. On the busier roads, there will be passing lanes, but that’s not the case everywhere. There will be picnic spots, campsites, viewpoints and even worn out spots on the side where you can slow down (not stop) and pull off or half off the road to let faster traffic pass you. USE THEM. Don’t let a long line of faster cars build up behind you. Once someone has let you pass them, it’s also customary to give a “beep beep” with the horn and a wave to say thanks.

Do – bring accessories from home
I’m sure more well-researched travelers than myself already realize this, but if you are like me and have a lot of stuff to charge, make sure you bring along one of those USB cigarette charger adapters. They are much pricier here, and more likely than not you have one floating around at home. Also bring a cable to plug in your iPod or music to the stereo so you can jam out on the long road trips.

Do – pay attention to the weather
It’s important to check road conditions AND heed all warnings. The weather in New Zealand can be intense, and especially around the South Island, landslides are a common occurrence, especially in winter and after heavy rain. Once you see the roads here, especially the mountain passes, you’ll understand. There are 3 passes through the Southern Alps on the South Island to get between the east and west coasts – Lewis Pass, Arthur’s Pass, and Haast’s Pass.

DON’T

Don’t – abuse the camping system in New Zealand
It’s really important that you understand how the campervan and freedom camping system works in New Zealand and not abuse it. There are two types of campervans you can rent here – fully self-contained and non-self-contained (indicated by a sticker). The difference is pretty much a toilet. If you have a campervan that DOESN’T have a toilet, you can’t freedom camp. Freedom camping is allowed around most of New Zealand and means you can camp on public land for free as long as you have the right facilities (read – toilet). If you are caught freedom camping without the right van or in a restricted area, it’s a $200 instant fine by the poo police, seriously, it happens a lot.

Don’t – underestimate New Zealand roads
This should probably have been number 1, but seriously, don’t underestimate the roads here. All the roads are basically one lane in either direction. In the US, highways have big medians and dividers between you and oncoming traffic and big break down lanes on the side. Not in New Zealand. Here, it’s usually a dotted white line down the middle. Pay attention to the roads, especially around the South Island. Nothing is straight, so you always have to be paying attention all the time. When the road bends, there are massive yellow reflective signs warning you in advance. Be sure to lower your speed when you see these. New Zealand landscape frequently likes to add obstacles to the adventure like landslides, hitchhikers, and sheep, so be on your guard when you’re behind the wheel. The beauty of New Zealand roads are that they are really well labeled.

Don’t – crash into anything when you’re struck by New Zealand’s beauty
A given but bears repeating considering how beautiful New Zealand is. It blinds even the best of us. It still happens to me.

Don’t – pull over just anywhere to take a picture
New Zealand is really photogenic, and even now I fight the urge to pull over to take a photo on the side of the road. Would you pull over on the side of I-95 in New York for a quick selfie? Probably not. Yes, there is a lot less traffic than in other countries but it’s still there, and you put a whole lot of people at risk just for a photo. And the truth is, traveling New Zealand by car, 9 times out of 10 the best shots are not from the side of the road. They are either a designated outlooks or viewpoints, or down a trail somewhere. Otherwise, there are lookouts, picnic and campsites, farm roads and driveways, and dirt roads all along the highways in New Zealand, and it is safe to assume that as you drive further, you can find somewhere safe and pretty to pull over.

Don’t – worry, you’re not alone; everyone falls in love with New Zealand
I think it’s scientifically impossible actually, for somebody to dislike New Zealand; someone should do a study on it. Many people absolutely fall head over heels for it, and they keep coming back for more or they never leave. I think that speaks volumes about a country. And keep in mind, any photo you see, pales in comparison to the real thing. New Zealand will blow you away every day, in the friendliness of the people and also in the scenery. So be prepared to fall in love too. Embrace it.

Best Time to visit

[March, April, May] Fall in New Zealand is gorgeous. It's one of the best times to plan your New Zealand vacation since the summer crowds have left, the attractions charge off peak rates, and the weather is amazing. If you visit Auckland, you'll be able to wear shorts or your most comfortable summer dress still.

Visa

Below is the link for applying New Zealand Visa.
https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa

Currency

The currency was called the New Zealand pound. But since its decimalization, it has been called the New Zealand dollar. The currency affectionately referred to as the Kiwi, trades under the symbol NZD or NZ$.

Voltage

Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts (50 hertz), although most hotels and motels provide 110 volt AC sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. For all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option. Converts plugs from all countries to plug adapter for wall outlets in Australia, New Zealand, China, and other countries with Type C outlets. Good for Grounded or Non-grounded plugs from other countries. Note: This does not convert the voltage from 110V to 220/240V. You will need a Voltage Converter for that.

Demographics

As of June 2016, the population of New Zealand is estimated at 4.69 million and is increasing at a rate of approximately 2.1% per year. New Zealand is a predominantly urban country, with 73.0% of the population living in the seventeen main urban areas (i.e. population 30,000 or greater) and 53.7% living in the four largest cities of Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, and Hamilton. New Zealand cities generally rank highly on international livability measures. For instance, in 2016 Auckland was ranked the world's third most livable city and Wellington the twelfth by the Mercer Quality of Living Survey.

Life expectancy for New Zealanders in 2012 was 84 years for females, and 80.2 years for males. Life expectancy at birth is forecast to increase from 80 years to 85 years in 2050 and infant mortality is expected to decline. New Zealand's fertility rate of 2.1 is relatively high for a developed country, and natural births account for a significant proportion of population growth. Consequently, the country has a young population compared to most industrialized nations, with 20% of New Zealanders being 14 years old or younger. By 2050 the population is forecast to reach 5.3 million, the median age to rise from 36 years to 43 years and the percentage of people 60 years of age and older to rise from 18% to 29%. In 2008, the leading cause of premature death was cancer, at 29.8%, followed by ischemic heart disease, 19.7%, and then cerebrovascular disease, 9.2%.

Largest cities or towns

1. Auckland 2. Wellington
3. Christchurch 4. Hamilton
5. Tauranga 6. Napier-Hastings
7. Dunedin 8. Palmerston North
9. Nelson 10. Rotorua

Languages

English is the predominant language in New Zealand, spoken by 96.1% of the population. New Zealand English is similar to Australian English and many speakers from the Northern Hemisphere are unable to tell the accents apart. The most prominent differences between the New Zealand English dialect and other English dialects are the shifts in the short front vowels: the short-"i" sound (as in "kit") has centralized towards the schwa sound (the "a" in "comma" and "about"); the short-"e" sound (as in "dress") has moved towards the short-"i" sound; and the short-"a" sound (as in "trap") has moved to the short-"e" sound.

After the Second World War, Māori were discouraged from speaking their own language (te reo Māori) in schools and workplaces and it existed as a community language only in a few remote areas. It has recently undergone a process of revitalization, being declared one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987, and is spoken by 3.7% of the population. There are now Māori language immersion schools and two television channels that broadcast predominantly in Māori. Many places have both their Māori and English names officially recognized.

As recorded in the 2013 census, Samoan is the most widely spoken non-official language (2.2%),followed by Hindi (1.7%), "Northern Chinese" (including Mandarin, 1.3%) and French (1.2%). 20,235 people (0.5%) reported the ability to use New Zealand Sign Language. It was declared one of New Zealand's official languages in 2006.

Religion

The Constitution of the Republic of China protects people's freedom of religion and the practices of belief. There are approximately 18,718,600 religious followers in Taiwan as of 2005 (81.3% of total population) and 14–18% are non-religious. According to the 2005 census, of the 26 religions recognized by the ROC government, the five largest are: Buddhism (8,086,000 or 35.1%), Taoism (7,600,000 or 33%), Yiguandao (810,000 or 3.5%), Protestantism (605,000 or 2.6%), and Roman Catholicism (298,000 or 1.3%).

The CIA World Fact book reports that over 93% of Taiwanese are adherents of a combination of the polytheistic Chinese popular religion, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism; 4.5% are adherents of Christianity, which includes Protestants, Catholics, and other, non-denominational, Christian groups; and less than 2.5% are adherents of other religions. Taiwanese aborigines comprise a notable subgroup among professing Christians: "...over 64% identify as Christian... Church buildings are the most obvious markers of Aboriginal villages, distinguishing them from Taiwanese or Hakka villages."

Confucianism is a philosophy that deals with secular moral ethics, and serves as the foundation of both Chinese and Taiwanese culture. The majority of Taiwanese people usually combine the secular moral teachings of Confucianism with whatever religions they are affiliated with.

As of 2009, there were 14,993 temples in Taiwan, approximately one place of worship per 1,500 residents. 9,202 of those temples were dedicated to Taoism. In 2008, Taiwan had 3,262 Churches, an increase of 145.

Culture

Early Māori adapted the tropically based east Polynesian culture in line with the challenges associated with a larger and more diverse environment, eventually developing their own distinctive culture. Social organization was largely communal with families (whānau), sub tribes (hapū) and tribes (iwi) ruled by a chief (rangatira), whose position was subject to the community's approval. The British and Irish immigrants brought aspects of their own culture to New Zealand and also influenced Māori culture, particularly with the introduction of Christianity. However, Māori still regard their allegiance to tribal groups as a vital part of their identity, and Māori kinship roles resemble those of other Polynesian peoples. More recently American, Australian, Asian and other European cultures have exerted influence on New Zealand. Non-Māori Polynesian cultures are also apparent, with Pasifika, the world's largest Polynesian festival, now an annual event in Auckland.

The largely rural life in early New Zealand led to the image of New Zealanders being rugged, industrious problem solvers. Modesty was expected and enforced through the "tall poppy syndrome", where high achievers received harsh criticism. At the time New Zealand was not known as an intellectual country. From the early 20th century until the late 1960s, Māori culture was suppressed by the attempted assimilation of Māori into British New Zealanders. In the 1960s, as tertiary education became more available and cities expanded urban culture began to dominate. However, rural imagery and themes have been pervasive in New Zealand's art, literature and media.

New Zealand's national symbols are influenced by natural, historical, and Māori sources. The silver fern is an emblem appearing on army insignia and sporting team uniforms. Certain items of popular culture thought to be unique to New Zealand are called "Kiwiana".

Festivals

Although New Zealand produces its own popular music artists, the country draws some big international names to their summer music festivals too. However, what this top list will show is that there is a lot more to a New Zealand festival than just ‘mega tunes’. If anything, we host some insanely creative festivals that showcase the Kiwi culture, such as a festival dedicated to hot-air balloons, unusual foods and Pacific Islands’ cultures.

1. LANEWAY FESTIVAL
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival is Auckland’s waterfront festival. Expect a dominance of international and homegrown indie bands. This festival started out as a festival down some laneway in Melbourne, Australia. Now the festival pops up in 8 different cities.

2. HOKITIKA WILDFOODS FESTIVAL
The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival not being in summer is just a technicality that can be overlooked. The South Island West Coast event is a gathering of weird foods such as, boiled possum, chocolate beetles, seagull eggs, snails, whitebait patties and “mountain oysters”. Just so you know, the latter is sheep’s balls…

3. PASIFIKA FESTIVAL
A festival of Pacific Islands’ culture. It is a 2-day party then a festival day where 11 Pacific villages pop up in Auckland’s Western Springs Park. Enjoy music, art, food and dance from the following countries and islands: Aotearoa (New Zealand in Maori), Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawaii, Kiribati, Nuie, Samoa, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu.

4. RHYTMN AND VINES
Gisborne is the 1st city in the world to see the the New Year in, as it is on New Zealand’s East Cape. The 3-day summer festival celebrates with big international headliners.

5. RHYTHM AND ALPS
The name doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as ‘Rhythm and Vines’ but it is an awesome alternative to celebrate the New Year with a festival. Based in the Cardrona Valley, South Island, we couldn’t think of a more scenic festival location. As Rhythm and Vine’s sister festival, expect an almost identical lineup.

6. BALLOONS OVER WAIKATO
It’s amazing how creative you can get with a hot-air balloon. Not only can you see an array of bright colours in the sky in the Balloons Over Waikato festival, but some crazy shapes like parrots, birthday cakes, rocket man, Angry Birds, butterflies, crabs, firemen… Ok, we wish we could list them all but we would be here all day.

Climate

New Zealand's climate is predominantly temperate maritime with mean annual temperatures ranging from 10 °C (50 °F) in the south to 16 °C (61 °F) in the north. Historical maxima and minima are 42.4 °C (108.32 °F) in Rangiora, Canterbury and −25.6 °C (−14.08 °F) in Ranfurly, Otago. Conditions vary sharply across regions from extremely wet on the West Coast of the South Island to almost semi-arid in Central Otago and the Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury and subtropical in Northland. Of the seven largest cities, Christchurch is the driest, receiving on average only 640 millimeters (25 in) of rain per year and Wellington the wettest, receiving almost twice that amount. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch all receive a yearly average of more than 2,000 hours of sunshine. The southern and south-western parts of the South Island have a cooler and cloudier climate, with around 1,400–1,600 hours; the northern and north-eastern parts of the South Island are the sunniest areas of the country and receive about 2,400–2,500 hours. The general snow season is early June until early October, though cold snaps can occur outside this season. Snowfall is common in the eastern and southern parts of the South Island and mountain areas across the country.

The table below lists climate normals for the warmest and coldest months in New Zealand's six largest cities. North Island cities are generally warmest in February. South Island cities are warmest in January.

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