General Information About New Zealand
New Zealand is the perfect travel destination: on the one hand it is far away, beautiful and exotic, on the other hand it´s a safe travel destination, being similar to European countries in many ways. A variety of landscapes are offering many highlights. Friendly and relaxed people who maintain a cheerful and uncomplicated lifestyle, good infrastructure and its little crime rate makes traveling an ease with providing an active and welcome reset to recharge your batteries. Therefore, New Zealand is always worth a trip. Having overcome the long flight to this beautiful travel destination will reward you with ever lasting memories!
Basic Information About New Zealand
New Zealand is located in the Southwest Pacific. The country consists of two main islands, the Northern and the Southern Island. In addition, there is Steward Island, which is a small natural retreat, located in the very south of the country. Further evenly small islands are found just off-shore New Zealand´s mainland.
New Zealand lies on two tectonic plates and therefore is constantly in motion. This location and the rather elongated shape of the islands, which thereby cover various latitudes, ensure that New Zealand offers a variety of scenic landscapes, which are most definitely unsurpassed. On the Northern Island, there are districts of almost Mediterranean climate, with lovely coves and beaches and the famous green hills. At the same time, you will find volcanoes, some of which are still active and whose activity has left lunar landscapes with fascinating rock formations. Hot springs and geysers can be experienced during a trip around New Zealand as well as glaciers, jungles, fjords and picturesque lakes on the Southern Island.
Just as fascinating are the seemingly endless beaches, which can be found in all shapes and sizes. There are vibrant city beaches on which the colorful, uncomplicated New Zealand life is seething with energy. You can try the latest water sport trends and immerse yourself in the incomparable way of the “Kiwi lifestyle”. If you are more into nature and seclusion, you do not have to look far either. Countless stretches of sand beaches are untouched, without overcrowded beach chair rentals and snack bars. Instead, you can go for long walks without meeting anyone but birds and marine life.
The New Zealand bush with its huge ferns and giant trees, enchanted moss forests and clear waterfalls is impressive in all parts of the country. If you interrupt a long drive to stretch your legs, you can stop almost anywhere and discover a beautiful hiking trail. At times you might sadly realize that you will never succeed in ever exploring all of them. But you don´t have to. Behind every turn you take there is something new, beautiful and exciting, which by itself makes the journey to New Zealand worth its while.
Animals and Plants
Most of the plants in New Zealand are perpetually green. Travelers can therefore admire the dense vegetation in the New Zealand rainforests during every season. The jungle is characterized by some exotic tree species such as the giant Kauri tree or the Rimu tree with its wonderful wood. Due to the high amount of rainfall and many hours of sunshine, plants in New Zealand thrive impressively. This impacts on a dense undergrowth and lots of moss vegetation, making the forests appear enchanting and fairy-tale-like.
The country is populated by countless species of birds which create an enthralling background noise with their screams and songs. New Zealand did not have any land mammals before European settlement; so many species of birds did not encounter natural enemies. This caused some species to become flightless. The extinct Moa who could grow up to 3 meters, however, became a victim of evolution as he fell into holes and ditches not being able to get back out. The kiwi, who is also unable to fly, has not been harmed by this circumstance. It even managed to emerge as the emblem of New Zealand.
In and around the water there is just as much to see. Whales and dolphins gather here. Even sharks are spotted every now and then. Penguins and seals are also considered absolute crowd pullers. If you are not afraid of water, you can pick your own Paua Shell. These shells often grow on large stones, which are only slightly covered by water at low tide. Paua Shell provides tasty mussel meat and beautiful clamshells. The number that can be collected per person is tendered on beaches to secure the stock. Thanks to its beautiful appearance when treated, Paua is used in the production of traditional Maori jewelry.
Climate and Weather in New Zealand
New Zealand has a moderate climate with plenty of sun, but also a lot of rainfall depending on location and season. Similar to European countries there are four seasons, which are shifted by half a year. July is the coldest month and January the warmest. The seasonal differences are less significant in New Zealand in comparison to what you would experience in Europe, as it can get quite warm in winter on sunny days, and on the other hand, a strong south wind (Cold Southerly) in summer makes you want to bring a jacket. Nevertheless, it is generally much warmer in summer than in winter. Travelers should always be equipped to adapt to spontaneous weather changes. Since you are very likely to either find yourself surrounded by mountain dominated landscape or by the sea, rapid weather changes are a common occurrence in New Zealand.
Despite temperature highs and lows in New Zealand are not as extreme as in Europe, the intensity of the sun's rays is much stronger. This being said, it is absolutely necessary to always have sun protection on hand in the form of headgear, sunglasses and sunscreen. Even in winter it is not unlikely for travelers to get sunburned.
Culture, History and Language of New Zealand
New Zealand has been a country of immigration from the very beginning. For a long time though, the country was only inhabited by animals. About 1000 years ago, the first people came to the country. They were inhabitants of the South Pacific Islands, who reached New Zealand by sea canoes. They settled and founded the Maori culture, which is still alive in New Zealand till this day. With the European explorer, Abel Tasman, arriving after 1641, the country became a destination of emigration even for Europeans. They run farms and initially had to be very daring and inventive to build a life considering most of the used land was encountered in an untreated naturally wild state. The British turned New Zealand into a colony, which was associated with many disputes between the Maori and the "Pakeha". It was not until 1840 that the Maori culture was protected by the Waitangi Treaty and assigned the Maoris with various special rights.
Today, Pakeha, Maori and many other immigrants, especially from Asia and European countries, as well as Polynesians, peacefully live together side by side. The people of New Zealand are proud of the cultural diversity of their country, which is expressed in the form of traditional handcrafts, but also in modern art, fashion, films and many well-known inventions. With only 4.5 million inhabitants, New Zealand is sparsely populated. Most people live in the major cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Agriculture and tourism are major factors of life in New Zealand. Sheep farming, dairy products and the cultivation of fruits and vegetables ensure abundant exports. The incomparable landscape with its numerous recreational opportunities attracts over 2 million visitors annually.
New Zealand is well prepared for its tourists. You will find tourist information offices in almost every village supplying you with maps, guidance for activities, accommodations and much more. Popular hiking trails must be pre-booked and are seasonally opened with daily a limited cap of visitors. This contributes to you being able to enjoy New Zealand’s wild nature rather than feeling on the run to escape the crowds. Thanks to the variety of sights and the sparse settlement you will hardly ever feel the hassle of New Zealand being one of the most beautiful and well known travel destinations.
New Zealand has three official languages: English, Te Reo Maori and the native sign language. In fact, English is spoken almost exclusively, with New Zealand English having a number of unique features, especially in its pronunciation. Additionally, terms borrowed from the Te Reo Maori form that unique “Kiwi slang”.
Te Reo Maori is the original language of the Maori, but sadly most of them can`t master it anymore. The language can nowadays be learned in schools and so it is spoken and understood by an increased number, especially of the younger population. Nevertheless, Te Reo is only studied in addition to English and is hardly exclusively used in an everyday context. Sign language is only used by a very small part of the population. Only about 0.6% of the people can communicate this way, which is still significantly below the number of people whose sense of hearing is affected. Nethertheless, naming sign language one of New Zealands official languages comes with a strong symbolic character.