New Zealand has been called God's own country and the "Paradise of the Pacific" since the early 1800s. New Zealand is a country of stunning and diverse natural beauty: mountain peaks, fiords, lakes, rivers, and active volcanic features. The islands are inhabited many species of unique fauna, including the elusive kiwi, which has become the national symbol. A country of contrast and variety, New Zealand offers stunning landscapes and world-class attractions. With towering mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, thermal wonderlands, superb beaches and delightful cities, New Zealand has something for everyone.
New Zealand is a country located in the south western Pacific Ocean that is rich its association with the Maori culture. The diversified culture of the country is a fine blend of the Maori culture with a tinge of the British impact. Get a better insight into the world of the kiwis - a term that best describes the culture of the New Zealanders. The art, the cuisines, the architecture are some of the aspects the aspect that are inseparably linked with the culture of the land. Its unique geographical location that is separated from Australia is something which makes it distinct. The population of the country which has a significant portion of the population belonging to the European descendants. Elizabeth II, the Queen of New Zealand is the head of the state who is assisted by a Prime Minister. New Zealand may look far away on the map but it’s really just a flight or two away from several of the world’s major cities: Sydney, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Shanghai, to name a few. And once you’re here, you’ll discover a technologically and socially advanced nation offering the facilities you’re used to at home – in a landscape that’s out of this world!
New Zealand has a fascinating and often tumultuous history which began 1,200 years ago with the discovery of the islands by Polynesian navigator Kupe. His wife named the newfound land Aotearoa, meaning ‘land of the long white cloud’, and the islands were later the focus of migration from Hawaiki, Kupe's homeland. Though there are very many queries with regards to the mysteries of New Zealand's history, it is assumed that New Zealand was explored before the birth of the Christ. With the passage of the time the Maori people became more interested in warfare that underlined the increasing demand for land and resources. Leadership was primarily based on a hereditary system. Of all the Maori society it was the 'hapu' group which later rose to immense popularity.
There was little outside influence between this time and the arrival of the British in the 18th century, allowing for a unique culture to develop over the centuries. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman came before the British, navigating the west coast in 1642. He didn’t hang around, however, due to some of his crew being killed by Maoris. The famous national park and trek near Nelson is named after him. He first anchored on the northern part of South Island in 1642 but sailed to Tonga. He named them as Staten Landt but the name was changed to Nova Zeelandia in Latin which was derived from the Dutch word Nieuw Zeeland. Later the name was subsequently anglicized and the lands got its new name. The name New Zealand was given by the British naval captain James Cook.
Captain Cook circumnavigated both islands in 1769 aboard the Endeavour and subsequently took them for the crown. He also noted that the locals were a violent people, but was impressed with their bravery nonetheless. The British began colonising New Zealand and in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, where Maori sovereignty was ceded in exchange for major land deals and protection. War broke out in 1860, however, due to constant violations of the treaty by the settlers. History of New Zealand refers to the fact that the European settlement started in the early decades of the 19th century. Their increasing attempts to buy new lands in New Zealand caused conflicts and an alarm aiming the missionaries who seeked the help of the British.
New Zealand became a colony on 3rd may, 1841. The country however was gifted with self government through the New Zealand constitution Act, 1852 that created central and provincial governments. The history of the land during this particular period saw large scale immigration from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. In 1870s and 80s several thousands Chinese people came to the land. New Zealand in 1901 decided not to join the commonwealth of Australia. Later in 1907 it became a separate dominion that was equivalent to Australia. Britain granted New Zealand autonomy in 1931 and they gained full independence along with India and several other nations of the empire not long after World War II. The economy continued to grow, with wool, meat and gold being big earners, although things got tough in the 1980s due to worldwide recession and subsequent high unemployment.
After the war ended a large number of population migrated to the cities that gradually led to its urbanization. However when the British joined the European Economic Community in 1973 New Zealand had to find new markets. When the fourth Labour government came to power they introduced many reforms. The fifth Labour government elected in 1999 that is the current government of New Zealand has managed to maintain most of the reforms of the previous governments and has also introduced various other reforms with the sole aim of bringing development in the country. Prominent moments for New Zealand in recent history have been its anti-nuclear stance, with the country vigorously opposing French nuclear testing in the Pacific; its adventure capital status; and the world-famous New Zealand All Blacks rugby team.
Located in the South Pacific Ocean, New Zealand consists of two major islands – North and South – a smaller island called Stewart Island and numerous small satellite islands. The North and South islands make up the bulk of the landmass which is largely young and volcanic. Both islands are roughly the same size and slightly larger than Great Britain combined. The North Island has the biggest cities and most people, while the South Island has the bulk of the stark scenery and largest mountains. There are lush forests, glacial mountains, gushing rivers, impossibly high waterfalls, pristine lakes, perfect beaches, and loads of geothermal activity.
The North Island is mainly given over to rolling hills and green pastures and contains such gems as the Bay of Islands, the geothermal town of Rotorua, the Pretty Coromandel peninsula and nearby Art Deco town of Napier, the breathtaking Tongariro National Park and the capital city Wellington.
A gold, green and blue world of beaches, bays and subtropical pleasures. The relaxed, sunny lifestyle of Northland springs from its subtropical climate and the myriad of beautiful islands, bays and beaches around the coastline. Northland is a favourite playground for lovers of anything aquatic. With 144 islands, the Bay of Islands is renowned for diving, boating, swimming and big game fishing. Inland, hiking trails and short walks in the native forests lead to some of the largest and oldest trees in the world.
Auckland has two huge harbours enfolding an environment that's alive with cultural excitement and sea-flavoured challenges. The Auckland region has something for everyone—great beaches, a beautiful harbour, fantastic shopping, and the nightlife and culture of a metropolitan city. With its many islands, harbours and beaches Auckland is a water paradise. There is a huge range of activities to do, not only in the water but also in and around Auckland.
Rugged and mysterious, yet also a place to flop on a beach and watch the waves roll in. The inspirational natural beauty of the Coromandel has led to the area becoming a haven for artists and crafts people. Take time to discover the many galleries and studios—you'll gain lasting pleasure when you purchase a piece of art directly from its creator. The coastal nature of the Coromandel makes it a brilliant choice if you like to fish, surf, dive, swim or wander along beaches. For contrast you can head for the hills and hike the trails in the forest. The jagged, volcanic hills of the Coromandel Peninsula still retain much of their original rainforest, including giant kauri trees.
Bay of Plenty
The sunny climate and beachy atmosphere of the Bay of Plenty make it a place to have fun. Mount Maunganui, with its prominent volcanic cone that gives it its name, is popular with surfers. It's also a very popular family holiday spot having a choice of both ocean and gentle harbour beaches. There are a number of challenging activities in the area, including tandem parachute jumping, sky diving, a hair-raising ride in a bungee rocket and rafting down the Wairoa River, one of the most spectacular stretches of white water in the country.
The landscapes you'll encounter in the Waikato will stay with you for all time. Above ground the view is dominated by the serenity of the Waikato River and the rich rolling green of productive farmland. Beneath the rolling green fields in the south are the Waitomo Caves, whose cathedral-like caverns have long attracted sightseers but now also cater for thrill seekers exploring the underground streams and shafts. Glide through the darkness on a raft and admire the beauty and grandeur of the caves and glow-worms overhead. The more adventurous could try tube rafting on an underground stream or abseiling (rappelling) 100 metres into the Lost World and the Haggas Honking Holes where no previous experience is required.
The seething power of inner earth comes to the surface in Rotorua. From the moment you arrive in Rotorua you'll know you're somewhere quite different. There is a pervasive smell of sulphur, and at nearby geothermal hotspots there are spouting geysers, acrid-smelling mud pools bubbling and belching, and warm geothermal pools and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of colour.
Eastland is a wild and enchanting place full of ancient stories. Bush fringed misty mountain lakes, beaches that have hardly changed for hundreds of years and farmland and vineyards that breathe the spirit of nature are characteristics of Eastland scenery. Gisborne is the first city in the world to welcome the new day. Its surf beaches and long hot summers have always attracted New Zealanders on holiday. The Gisborne area also has some of the country's best surviving carved Maori meeting houses and churches.
A great lake and an even greater choice of adventures. The powerful beauty of the volcanic landscape provides a dramatic backdrop to everything you do. The Lake Taupo region has some of New Zealand's finest untouched, unspoilt, uncrowded country, and just about all of it is easy to get to. Lake Taupo, the Tongariro River and other inflowing streams have for a long time had an international reputation for their rainbow trout fishery. Many people, however, just enjoy cruising, participating in the many water activities, or simply relaxing in one of the North Island's beauty spots.
At Ruapehu you can't escape the gaze of the huge volcanoes that mark the heart of this astonishing landscape. One can explore the wild scenery on foot, on skis or from the roaring rapids of a river. In summer there are a number of trails to explore, with one of the best known being the Tongariro Crossing, a full day hike. These hikes provide opportunities to experience some of the most active volcanic areas, as well as moonscape craters, lush native forest, lava formations, glaciers and pristine streams and lakes. High-energy pursuits include ice and rock climbing, abseiling and mountaineering. There is also rafting, canoeing, trout fishing, horse trekking, golfing and farm bike tours.
Taranaki is a place to find the soulful beauty of New Zealand's heartland. Come because you seek the time and space to discover new memories; on the mountain, in the water, or exploring lush, colourful gardens and invigorating art. The forest on Mount Taranaki's middle slopes is sometimes known as 'Goblin Forest' because of the gnarled shape of the trees and the thick swathes of trailing moss. In winter, Mount Taranaki becomes a place to ski. The Egmont National Park encompasses the mountain and the land around it. Hiking is the thing to do here. Lush rainforest covers the foothills of the mountain, but the landscape changes the higher you go--from tall rimu and kamahi trees at lower altitudes through dense subalpine shrubs to an alpine herb field with some plants unique to the park.
Hawke’s Bay is a charismatic region where you can enjoy stylish historical architecture and wine in equal quantities. Hawke's Bay is loved for its sunny climate, fabulous beaches, sheltered coastal plains and long-established vineyards. The Hawke's Bay vineyards are all within a short distance of Napier and Hastings cities, with over 30 open to the public for free wine tasting. Many also operate cafes and restaurants in both indoor and outdoor settings. A unique attraction is the Cape Kidnappers Gannet Sanctuary, the largest mainland colony in the world.
The Whanganui River is the Wanganui's reason for being. The Wanganui region is known for maori culture, heritage, Whanganui National Park and river adventures. There are many ways to explore the Whanganui River: jet boat, kayak, canoe, raft, paddle steamer, or on the end of a fly-fishing rod. Visitors can travel up the Whanganui River by jetboat or riverboat into the heart of the Whanganui National Park, or canoe downstream over gentle rapids.
At Manawatu one can explore the green beauty of heartland New Zealand and find the peaceful pleasures created by gardeners and conservationists. There's also plenty of potential for 'scare-raising' adventure. On a Health, Herbs and Honey tour you can meet local people who are passionate about growing, harvesting and producing their unique range of natural health, herb and honey products. Manawatu's glorious lavender and herb gardens, enjoy delicious garden fresh meals, purchase herbal and honey products and indulge in a wonderful relaxing massage or beauty treatment. At Cross Hills Gardens, Kimbolton you can enjoy a park-like garden that includes one of the world's finest collections of rhododendrons and azaleas - there are over 2,000 varieties on display.
At Wairarapa you leave the city and enter a contemporary style of country life that fully embraces the pleasures of fine wine and good food. About 20 kilometres north of the main centre of Masterton is Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. Set amidst a pocket of ancient rainforest, this centre is where the New Zealand Department of Conservation runs its captive breeding programme for threatened bird species.
Wellington is gives you a city experience that will reveal the creative, political and cultural nature of New Zealand, but still provides blockbuster scenery. High-energy enjoyment is the theme for Wellington. Exploring Wellington's waterfront on foot is a pleasant way to spend a morning or afternoon. Start at Queens Wharf and follow the harbour around past Te Papa and Chaffers Marina to Oriental Bay, where you will find cafes and an enticing stretch of golden sand. Wellington is New Zealand's trendy weekend destination and has the most vibrant entertainment district in the country, where you can find some of the best bars, cafes, restaurants and theatres. Wellington is also the home of much New Zealand heritage, including Te Papa, New Zealand's national, leading edge museum.
The South Island is connected by ferry with Wellington and is alpine in nature, with a huge chain of mountains forming its backbone and climate. The southwest of the island is one of the world’s wettest areas, containing fine walks such as the Milford Track, while on the east coast is the English looking city of Christchurch. Queenstown is also on the South Island and is the main stop for those seeking adventure.
Arty and interesting, there are plenty of reasons for the sun to shine in Nelson. Enjoy the beautiful environment while you get acquainted with the creative local culture. Nelson's artists include carvers, glassblowers, painters, potters and weavers, whose work can be seen by following any of the 13 craft trails that also take in Nelson's most attractive rural settlements. Within the sheltering confines of Tasman Bay, Nelson's beaches are safe, with silvery sand. Tahunanui Beach, within the city boundaries has the largest and best-equipped holiday park in the country.
Fine wine and fine scenery—Marlborough will quickly put you in an excellent mood. Follow your passion for the good life through the tranquil countryside. With the country's largest area of vineyards, Marlborough's major attraction is vineyard visits, wine tasting and cafes. To the north, the sheltered, drowned valleys of the Marlborough Sounds are a boating and fishing paradise. In the Marlborough Sound's you can go sea kayaking, dive shipwrecks or charter a sailing boat and cruise the Sounds. Various land activities include high country horse trekking, fly-fishing or hunting, explore private gardens open for viewing, or visit the alpacas and llamas just out of Koromiko.
The wildest side of New Zealand, the West Coast has the power to touch your soul with its landscape of brooding mountains, icy glaciers, primal forest and surreal coastal formations. The West Coast region offers a variety of short scenic walks and hiking opportunities, as well as exciting adventure activities for all ages and levels of competence. Anglers will find they are in paradise anywhere on the coast. The coast is also strewn with relics of the heady goldrush days of the 1860's, and tracks and walks explore many of the old workings. You can try your hand at gold panning at Shantytown, a replica goldfield town of last century, near Greymouth.
Christchurch City is alive with colour, atmosphere and world-class attractions. It's a place known internationally for its spectacular gardens. Here you'll find a fresh experience each day. Alive with colour, atmosphere and world-class attractions, Christchurch is a graceful city that values its culture and heritage, but offers a year round range of fresh and exciting adventures and activities. The city is full of delights, from the beautiful neo-gothic Arts Centre, to the historic tram which loops the city centre, to the Christchurch Gondola and unique attractions like the International Antarctic Centre. The shopping is superb and the restaurants are a celebration of fresh, natural New Zealand foods and fine wines.
Coastal and mountain experiences combine to make Canterbury a place where there's something for every traveller. Step back into Maori, whaling, French and British history in Akaroa—Canterbury's oldest village. You can take a cruise on Lyttelton Harbour and enjoy the dramatic volcanic landscape. In summer you might even get the chance to swim with the world's rarest dolphin, the Hector Dolphin.
Mt Cook / Aoraki
In this alpine paradise you can hike the high trails or simply meditate on the beauty of the Southern Alps. Scenic flights from Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook afford breathtaking views over the Southern Alps and countryside, with ski-plane landings on the Tasman Glacier providing an unforgettable experience. All ski options are available, including heli-skiing and ski touring, and guides are available for climbing.
Lake Wanaka is the picture and the mountains are the frame. Move easily from one to the other while you pursue outdoor adventures of every kind in Wanaka. The highlight of the attractions at Wanaka is the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum at Skyshow Centre, with the largest collection of airworthy World War Two fighters in the Southern Hemisphere. These 'old warbirds' take to the skies every other Easter, attracting admirers from far and wide. Mt Aspiring National Park is renowned for fishing, climbing and hiking, including possibly the best collection of half-day walks in the country.
Blessed with some of the world's most exquisite geography, Queenstown never fails to amaze travellers with its scope for excitement and fun. Shopping is Queenstown's specialty, and souvenir shops here are as good as any you will find elsewhere. There are year-round action-packed thrills such as jet-boating on the Kawarau or Shotover rivers, where these amazing New Zealand-invented craft execute seemingly impossible manoeuvres. Queenstown is also the world capital and home of bungy jumping.
Once the scene of a mighty gold rush, now appreciated for its powerful, moody landscape. Exploring the heritage trails, quaint mining towns and historic sites is the most rewarding activity in this region. Most activities are associated with this, such as four-wheel drive safari excursions and gold panning.
Come to feel the history of New Zealand’s oldest city, which has Victorian and Edwardian architecture on a grand scale. Unique wildlife experiences are another reason enough to visit. Dunedin's architectural heritage has provided the city with some notable buildings, including the train station, town hall, university and many churches. There are also special former private residences worth noting including Olveston, a Jacobean-style family home and Glenfalloch, surrounded by 12 hectares of woodland garden. Neo-Gothic Larnach Castle represents the finest of nineteenth century craftsmanship.
If you were to imagine the most dramatic landscape on the planet, it might look like this. The road to Milford Sound, which traverses Fiordland National Park below massive peaks and bluffs, is considered one of the finest alpine drives in the world. Arriving at Milford, visitors are confronted by the most famous of New Zealand icons - the majestic Mitre Peak. Visitors to this vast, remote area, practically untouched by humans, are often overwhelmed by the incredible solitude and serenity of Fiordland.
Southland is New Zealand's southern-most region, and includes New Zealand's third island, Stewart Island. General Southland's lush, green pastoral lands are among the richest in the country, a strong contrast to dry Central Otago further north. There are many farm stay options available in this region for those looking for a real Kiwi experience. On the coast, the Catlins Forest Park is a place of hidden waterfalls and river valleys, where native forest meets the water's edge. Rocky bays, inlets and estuaries make up some of the region's most magnificent coastal scenery. For anyone seeking peace and tranquillity, Stewart Island is the ultimate spot. There are superb bush walks and great launch cruises around some of New Zealand's most beautiful coastline.
As in most developed nations, the majority of people live in cities and towns, meaning that vast areas are sparsely populated – and numerous national parks and mountainous areas are inhabited by nobody at all! In New Zealand it’s easy to escape from the madding crowd.