From a map, New Zealand appears to lie lonely in the southwest Pacific. In reality, it is only about 3 hours flying time of Australia, a non-stop overnight flight from the United States, but for us, it's the other side of the world. Everything is different, even the water turns the other way round into the discharge.
The country consists of 2 main islands which cover 266200 sq km (103735 sq miles).
New Zealand's spectacularly landscape includes vast mountain chains, volcanoes, coasts, rainforests and endless grassy plains. Equivalent in size to Great Britain, California or Japan, it has a population of only 3.8 million - making it one of the world's least nearly untouched countries und a heaven for those who want peace and relaxation. But it is also a playground for those looking for thrills and adventure.
Having a temperate climate with relatively small seasonal variation makes it a year-round holiday destination.
The North of New Zealand is sub-tropical and the South temperate. The warmest months are December, January and February, and the coldest June, July and August. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20 -30 °C and in winter between 10 -15 °C. New Zealand is famous for its clear air and pleasant climate.
Its separation from other land masses for more than 100 million years has allowed many ancient plants and animals to survive. With its fauna and flora, it has a unique diversity of landscapes. In a couple of days it is possible to see everything from snow-covered mountains to sandy beaches.
It is also a land of unique birds. The best known is the Kiwi, New Zealand's unofficial national symbol. Also flightless are the "Weka" and the endangered "Kakapo". They are just able to scramble up into small trees.
Another unique bird, one capable of flight, is the "Kea", which is renowned for its fearlessness of humans.
About a quarter of the country still remains forested, most of these areas are protected in national parks. The characteristic New Zealand forest is an evergreen rainforest.
Nevertheless, in only 800 years of settlement, New Zealand has lost many species!!!!!!!
People and History
New Zealand is an independent nation and a member of the British Commonwealth. It has a multicultural population of around 3.8 million people. Most of them are of British descent and there are the "Maori" who form with about 14% its largest minority.
They came to NZ about 1000 years ago from a country called "Hawaiki". Looking at their language, traditions and way of life, some historians think they had come from "Raiatea" in Polynesia. Till the 18th century the Maori didn't know any sort of comfort, but the had very good instincts.
Nevertheless many of them were killed in battles with the settlers or by epidemics. During the 1970s there was a renaissance of the Maori culture and from 1987 on, Maori is an official language of NZ.
The great explorer "Kupe", who first discovered the country named it "Land of the long white cloud".
The first documented European to discover it was Dutch navigator Abel Tasman. He came there in 1642 in search for a south continent. Over 125 years later, Captain James Cook claimed it for Britain and produced a map.That's why English is the common language of it.
Its founding document, "the Treaty of Waitangi" was signed in 1840 between the leading Maori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown. It was created in order to get peaceful and equal living conditions, but also for the protection of British citizen and for the sovereignty of the British crown. Waitangi is one of the nation's most historic sites and the day, which is now the national day, is also known as " Waitangi Day".
Economy and Government
New Zealand is a modern country with a well-developed economy and a government structure based on the British parliamentary system. It has long been a sovereign nation in its own right with only tenuous ties to Britain through New Zealand's membership of the British Commonwealth. It was the first country in the world to let its native people vote, to give elderly the pension, the world's first Anti-Nuclear country and in 1893, New Zealand was the first country on earth to give women the vote!!!
is located in the upper North Island. The largest city in NZ has around a million inhabitants. It is a city of cultural diversity and is home to the world's largest concentration of Polynesians. "The city of sails" has more boats than any other city in the world and this is reflected in its water-orientated lifestyle.
Known as gateway to NZ because of its major international airport and large port, there are tall skyscrapers including the tallest in the Southern hemisphere.
Did you know, that there is more than one sort of Kiwi? There are birds, people, coins and the fruits.
New Zealand's first settlers named the kiwi bird for the sound of its chirp -kiwi-kiwi-kiwi. This flightless bird has an extremely long bead and plumage more like hair than feathers. New Zealanders have adopted this creature as their national emblem.
Referring to Inhabitants as Kiwis probably dates back to the first World War, when New Zealand soldiers got this nickname.
The international financial markets, the New Zealand dollar, the basic currency is also called Kiwi. It features a kiwi bird on one side.
Perhaps the best known kiwi is the delicious kiwifruit. Originating in China, kiwifruits were grown in New Zealand. The farmers began propagating the fruit for export , it was given the name kiwifruit and has achieved worldwide fame.