New Zealand, 'Land of the Long White Cloud', is asmall, sparsely populated country consisting of two major islands,North and South Island, and a scattering of smaller ones. Despiteits small size it is crammed with magnificent natural beauty andhas an incredible amount to offer its visitors. Fresh air,breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities are the mainattractions of New Zealand, with a tremendously friendly, honestand helpful population, colloquially nicknamed after theircountry's distinct symbol, the unusual but amiable flightless kiwibird.
The North Island has dramatic volcanic landscapes andhighly active thermal areas, long stretches of beautiful beachesand excellent sailing, ancient indigenous forests and a strongMaori cultural influence. The South Island has a slower pace oflife dominated by the magnificent snow-covered Southern Alps andthe spectacular scenery of the southern waterways of the fjordlands, with glaciers, deep lakes and verdant forests.
The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 was NewZealand's founding document, an attempt to settle disputes betweenthe European settlers and the Maoris, conceding the country toBritish rule while guaranteeing the Maori people possession oftheir land and cultural identity. Today, integration has beenreplaced by a policy of upholding two different cultures alongsideeach other. Their shared love of sport, most notably the reverednational sport of rugby union, and their enthusiasm for adventureand the outdoors is the unifying factor among the wholepopulation.
New Zealand offers a huge variety of activities, frombungee jumping to skiing, swimming with dolphins, scenic flightsand boat cruises on the fjords, as well as several world famouswalking trails. Alternatively visitors can immerse themselves inculture at the museums and galleries of Auckland and the capitalWellington in the North, and Christchurch in the south.
New Zealand is an easy and compact place in which totravel and its spectacularly dramatic landscape alone, famous forits setting for the 'The Lord of the Rings' film trilogy, makes thelong trip to these southern islands more than worthwhile.
There is so much to see and do in New Zealand that itis difficult to know where to start. This is, after all, theself-styled 'adventure capital of the world', where willingparticipants can bungee jump, zorb and sky dive to their heart'scontent in outdoor playgrounds such as Queensland or Wanaka.
The natural landscape in New Zealand is astonishing.Visitors can take in the pristine fjord of Milford Sound, or getlost in the turquoise waters of the Bay of Islands. Highlights ofthe Hauraki Gulf islands near Auckland include Waiheke, famous forits wine, and the volcanic Rangitoto. The three mighty volcanoes ofTongariro National Park are awesome for skiing and trekking,enjoying dual UNESCO status for volcanic landscape and culturalimportance.
The rugged and uninhabited West Coast, framed by theSouthern Alps and the Tasman Sea, is home to stunning naturalfeatures such as the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Not to be missedin this region is the TranzAlpine train, one of the world's greatrailway journeys, traversing the Southern Alps and passing throughArthur's Pass National Park as it makes its way from Greymouth toChristchurch.
The cities offer an entirely different experience.Auckland, known to the Maori people as 'Tamaki Makaurau' - city ofmany lovers, is renowned as one of the top cities in the world forquality of life. Wellington, the capital, is small but with a bigcity feel. Here, visitors can enjoy the culture, caffeine and ofcourse the craft beer. Otago's rolling hills are home to some topwine producers.
New Zealand is also developing other sides to itstourist offering with a burgeoning wine industry, fascinating Maoriculture, restorative thermal pools and natural spas, and plenty oftours themed around The Lord of the Rings, which was filmed atlocations around the country.
The Auckland Museum overlooks the city and theattractive Waitemata Harbour. It is one of the most visitedattractions in the city, housing a remarkable collection of Maoriand Pacific Island artefacts and cultural displays. Originallybuilt as a World War I Memorial in 1929, the building was dedicatedto the memory of New Zealand victims in both World War I and II.The 'New Zealand at War' exhibition has since been joined byextensive displays about the people and the country, its cultures,art and natural history. A highlight is the Maori culturalperformance of song and dance, performed three times daily.
At 1,076 feet (328m), Auckland's Sky Tower is the tallestfreestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere and hasunforgettable views over the city, the harbour and the gulfislands. It is part of the Sky City Entertainment Complex, with acasino, theatre, hotel, and conference centre. Visitors to thetower can splash out on dinner in the revolving restaurant, oradmire the view from one of the four circular observation decks,reached by a glass lift. There is an outdoor deck, glass floorpanels, an audio visual guide, and a number of touch computerscreens providing geographical information. The Sky Deck is thehighest viewing level with spectacular 360-degree views.
Wai-O-Tapu, meaning 'Sacred Waters', is a diverse and colourfulgeothermal sightseeing experience. The area has been active formore than 100,000 years and features thick pools of boiling mudthat bubble and belch, geysers, sulphuric mineral terraces, andsteaming pools that create a kaleidoscope of colour. Walkwaysaround the area allow visitors to admire the display of some of themost incredible earth forces in the world. Some of the bestfeatures include the spectacular Champagne Pool, a large steamingand bubbling pool fringed by red and yellow ochre deposits; theevil looking Devil's Bath, with a high concentration of arseniccreating the vivid green colour of the water; and the erupting LadyKnox Geyser that shoots steam up to 64 feet (20m) into the air in amajestic daily display at around 10:15am.
Te Papa is Wellington's leading attraction and one ofthe world's largest national museums. It is a tribute to all thatis New Zealand; its people and history, natural environment, arts,and culture. Interactive technology and superb displays bring thestory to life, with visitors able to experience the explosivecreation of pre-historic New Zealand, go on a virtual bungee jump,experience the effects of a volcanic eruption, and much more. Otherattractions include a range of magnificent exhibitions featuringsome of the country's most important Maori treasures, a modern'marae' or Maori meeting house, and an informative display on theTreaty of Waitangi.
The cable car is one of the most popular tourist attractions inWellington. It takes people to the lookout at Kelburn, where thereis a beautiful view over the city and across the harbour. Visitorscan either take a return journey or walk back down through thebeautifully landscaped Botanic Gardens. At the top terminus thereis the small Cable Car Museum explaining its history.
Christchurch's heritage trams, dating back to 1954,have been beautifully restored, offering visitors a uniqueexperience that takes visitors on a two-mile (3km) loop of many ofthe city's best attractions. The drivers offer insight on thehistory, architecture, activities, and points of interest. Visitorscan hop on and off at any of the stops to explore at their leisure.The most interesting sights include the Aquarium of Discovery,punting on the Avon River, the exquisite Botanic Gardens on thebanks of the river, New Regent Street with its pretty Spanishmission-style architecture, the magnificent Gothic buildings of theArts Centre, and Canterbury Museum, with an excellent Antarcticexhibition.
The spectacular ride takes visitors to the top of thecrater rim of Christchurch's extinct volcano on the outskirts ofthe city, unfolding magnificent views over the Canterbury Plainsand towards the Southern Alps, and the sweep of Pegasus Bay andLyttelton Harbour, as it rises to 1,460 feet (445m) above sealevel. At the summit the Gondola Complex features the Time TunnelHeritage Show with a walk-through exhibition and video relaying thehistory and geological evolution of the Canterbury region as wellas Maori mythology. From the summit it is possible to walk backdown through the Port Hills to Sumner Beach.
Mount Cook National Park is known for its exquisite alpinebeauty and is home to the highest mountain in New Zealand, MountCook. Its Maori name, 'Aoraki' means 'cloud piercer' and at 12,218feet (3,724m) it towers above the surrounding snow-covered peaks inthe park. A third of the park is covered in permanent ice and snowand the mighty Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier outside of thepolar regions. Glacial melt gives the lakes their beautiful milky,turquoise colour and there are many walks in the area to take inthe dramatic beauty. Mount Cook has always been the focus ofclimbing and mountaineering, most notably the expeditions of SirEdmund Hillary, who went on to be the first man to reach the summitof the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest.
The Queenstown Gondola takes visitors up to Bob's Peak above thetown, and has incredible views over Queenstown, the lake, and theRemarkables Range. At the top of the gondola is the Luge offeringthree-wheel cart rides for all different ages and abilities, orthere are numerous walks on the mountain with beautiful views ofthe area. At the bottom terminal is the Kiwi and Birdlife Parkfeaturing nocturnal kiwi houses and other endangered species of NewZealand.
Arrowtown sits at the edge of the Otago Goldfields and was oneof New Zealand's biggest gold towns in its day. It still hasreminders of the gold rush days with little miners' cottages alongthe tree lined streets, historic wooden buildings, and 19thcentury-style shops. There are the interesting remains of a Chinesesettlement, with interpretive signs, nestled along the banks ofBush Creek where gold was panned. The Chinese diggers often workedthrough the remains of previous miner's claims in search ofundetected fine gold. The Visitors Centre contains the excellentLake District Museum that has a small display on local history andgold mining.
Nowhere else in the world, outside the polar regions,can one see glaciers so close to the sea. The Fox and Franz JosefGlaciers extend more than eight miles (13km) from the highest peaksof precipitous mountains to the valley floor and are surrounded byrainforest. The glaciers are moving at an average rate of threefeet (1m) a day, but the Frans Josef can move up to an incredible16 feet (5m) in one day. A wide range of companies offer guidedtrips to explore the spectacular ice formations, taking visitors uponto the mighty rivers of ice. There are scenic flights over theglaciers with snow landings, a great way to appreciate themagnitude and splendour of the area.
Hemmed in by towering granite cliffs and dominated byMitre Peak, the calm deep waters reflect ice-covered mountain tops,waterfalls plummet from the cliff tops to the water below, andBottlenose dolphins play in the foaming wakes of the boats. The14-mile (22km) long fjord of Milford Sound is the most famousattraction in the Fjordland National Park. The road to MilfordSound is one of the finest alpine drives in the world with manyview points to admire the sheer scale of the dramatic landscape. Avariety of boat cruises or popular kayaking trips provideopportunities to see the fur seals, crested penguins and dolphins,while scenic flights give a unique perspective on the area.
Situated on a peninsula just 45 miles (75km) south ofChristchurch, Akaroa is a historic colonial settlement nestled inthe heart of an ancient volcano. It is Canterbury's oldest villageand its French character is evident in the street names, quainthistorical architecture, and French inspired cuisine. The prettytown and its lovely bays and harbour offer an enormous range ofactivities for tourists. With its beautiful colonial architecture,cafes, and restaurants, Akaroa is an easy place to spend a relaxingday, and for the more active the surrounding area offers fantasticwalking trails, sea kayaking and sailing.
Lake Wanaka was voted as one of the world's top 10 most romanticdestinations. It is a picture-perfect alpine lake located in theOtago region of the South Island. It is New Zealand'sfourth-largest lake and certainly one of its most beautiful. Thelake is popular for boating, fishing, and swimming and thetemperate climate ensures that this is a year-round destination.The nearby Harris Mountains provide ample opportunity for skiing inwinter as well.
Located between Wellington and Auckland, Taranaki has for a longtime been largely overlooked by tourists in New Zealand. It is onlyrecently that visitors have discovered the charms of thewesternmost province in New Zealand, with its lush gardens, rollinghills of dairy farms, scenic parks, and world-class surf spots. Thebiggest city in Taranaki is New Plymouth, a busy port on the TasmanSea rated by the United Nations as one of the best small cities inthe world.
Situated 62 miles (100km) off the coast of northeastNew Zealand, Great Barrier Island is a paradise of unspoiledwilderness and beautiful vistas. The bulk of the island has beengiven over to nature reserves and the local ecosystem has thrived,home to rare creatures such as Brown Teal Ducks and North IslandKaka Parrots. The real attraction of Great Barrier Island lies inthe multitude of outdoor activities, including scuba diving,sailing, kayaking, surfing, fishing, hiking, quad biking, mountainbiking, and golf. The population of Great Barrier Island is onlyaround 850, but there are still some good restaurants and lodgesfor visitors to enjoy.
Situated on the Volcanic Plateau of Central NorthIsland, the continuous volcanic activity has formed the landscapearound Rotorua and the main attractions are based around itsnatural resources. There are a number of hot springs and thermalbaths, the basis for its fast-growing fame as 'Nature's Spa of theSouth Pacific'. The crystal lakes offer holiday activities such astrout fishing and water sports, and nearby geothermal fieldsfeature bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers, and steaming rivers.Rotorua is also the Maori cultural heartland and visitors canexperience the spirit of their culture in many performancesfeaturing stories relayed through song and dance, and a 'hangi'feast, the traditional Maori method of cooking in an earthenpit.
Te Anau rests on the shores of the beautiful lake ofthe same name with spectacular views of mountain peaks all around.It is the hub of the region and an excellent base from which toexplore the Fjordland area. Te Anau has achieved the reputation ofbeing the 'Sightseeing and Walking Capital of the World' havingeasy access to some of the most splendid Great Walks and scenery.Lake Te Anau is the second largest in New Zealand, attractingvisitors with a wide variety of water sports. The town also has awonderful resource centre with information on tramping and otherexcursions, as well as offering aerial sightseeing or organisingtrips to the main attractions in the area.
The Milford Track is considered to be the finest walk in theworld. It is a four-day hike ending at Milford Sound that has beenattracting tourists and locals for over 100 years. Followingglaciated valleys and crossing an alpine pass it traverses somefabulous scenery, past towering snow-clad peaks, along rivers andwaterfalls, over grassy plateaux, and through dense rainforests.The number of hikers is limited and accommodation is provided incomfortable mountain huts along the way.
Mount Victoria, locally abbreviated to Mt Vic, is aprominent hill to the east of the centre of Wellington, linked toMount Albert by a ridge. The suburb of Mount Victoria is a mixtureof residential and commercial activity on the western flank of theridge above the southern end of the Wellington CBD. Mt Vic boastsbeautiful views of the city and the suburb is well populated byartisanal cafes and eateries that add to the local feel of thewalk. This was also the location where numerous scenes of was shot.
Tiritiri Matangi Island is a wildlife sanctuary andone of New Zealand's most important and exciting conservationprojects. A hundred and twenty years of farming had seen this220-hectare island stripped of almost all its native bush butbetween 1984 and 1994, volunteers planted between 250,000 and300,000 trees. The Island is now sixty percent forested with theremaining forty percent left as grassland for species preferringopen habitat. Visitors can access the island by a regular ferryservice, which leaves from Auckland and Gulf Harbour. When on theisland, visitors can enjoy a guided walk, explore the beaches orsimply admire the natural beauty of the place.
The weather in New Zealand is changeable throughout the year,however the climate is fairly temperate, with fairly predictableconditions over longer periods. The North Island has mild wintersand warm and humid summers, the South Island has lower temperatureswith cold winters and extensive snowfields and glaciers. Snow fallson all the mountains in winter, and the west coast receives themost rain. The summer months in New Zealand are from November toApril.
Bodrum is arguably one of the best Turkish restaurants inAuckland. It was created in late 2015 by Turkish restaurateur duo,Alex Isik and Nigar Ivgen. People visit for the fall-off-the-bonelamb, and stay for the Turkish Delight and coffee. Bookingsrecommended.
Punjab Palace is one of Auckland's many Indian restaurants. Whatsets Punjab Palace apart is their extensive menu and the pride andpersonal involvement that the owners take in the day to day runningof this great restaurant. With piping hot curries, perfectly cookednaan and meat dishes done to perfection, Punjab Palace serves foodfit for royalty. Try the Mango Chicken for something different, orthe Lamb Rogen Josh for some of India's finest spices and NewZealand's best lamb. Bring along a bottle of wine and enjoy a greatIndian feast. Bookings essential.
For French cuisine at its best visit Saison. This Frenchrestaurant serves up an exciting array of stylish dishes. Usingseasonal vegetables and only the best meat available Saison willtantalise your taste buds in all the right ways. Saison has a greatwine selection including local and international wines. The tastingmenu comes highly recommended. Reservations essential.
Auckland has a large selection of Japanese restaurants and sushibars, but Industry Zen is a cut above the rest. With authenticJapanese decor and traditional Japanese meals this restaurant willtransport you to Japan for the evening. Industry Zen is definitelyone of the best sushi restaurants in Auckland and is often fullybooked. Their sushi is made to perfection and the sushi wraps are ahit. Industry Zen also serves a decadent selection of Japanesetapas including crumbed rock oysters, fried squid legs andtraditional Japanese Gyoza. The green tea ice-cream is the perfectway to end your meal. Bookings essential.
One Tree Grill Restaurant is an upmarket dining experience whichserves up traditional Pacific Rim cuisine and boasts a veryimpressive array of wines from the region and abroad. Therestaurant prides itself on its professional service and qualityfood, making every dining experience a unique and special eveningout for its customers. The food is beautifully presented and tastesequally as delicious. Although rather a bit more expensive thanother options in the area, the quality certainly lives up to theprice point. Bookings are essential.
Local currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), divided into 100cents. Most businesses accept MasterCard and Visa, and while DinersClub and American Express are also widely accepted in the maintourist centres, they might have limited acceptance elsewhere. ATMscan be found in all towns and cities.
The official languages in New Zealand are English andMaori.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Oblique flatblade plugs are standard.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least onemonth beyond the period of intended stay in New Zealand. No visa isrequired for stays of up to three months. Travellers must have aNew Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) obtained prior toboarding.
UK citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least onemonth beyond the period of intended stay in New Zealand. They musthave a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) obtainedprior to boarding. British citizens holding a passport endorsedBritish Citizen, or a passport containing a Certificate ofEntitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom (andaccompanied by documents that further establish their right ofabode in the UK), do not require a visa to enter New Zealand for astay of up to six months. British citizens with passports endorsedBritish National (Overseas) may stay for up to three months withouta visa. In all other cases, a visa is required.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast one month beyond the period of intended stay in New Zealand.No visa is required for stays of up to three months. Canadians musthave a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) obtainedprior to boarding.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid upontheir arrival in New Zealand. No visa is required.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast three months beyond the period of intended stay in NewZealand. South Africans require a visitor visa which must beorganised prior to travel.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for at leastone month beyond the period of intended stay in New Zealand. Novisa is required for stays of up to three months. They must have aNew Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) obtained prior toboarding.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least onemonth beyond the period of intended stay in New Zealand. No visa isrequired for stays of up to three months. Travellers must have aNew Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) obtained prior toboarding.
All foreign passengers to New Zealand must hold return/onwardtickets, the necessary travel documentation for their nextdestination, and proof of sufficient funds to cover their expenseswhile in the country (usually NZD 1,000 per month, or NZD 400 ifaccommodation has been prepaid). Note that all visitors must obtaina permit to enter Tokelau from the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office inApia, at least two weeks prior to travel. It is highly recommendedthat your passport has at least six months validity remaining afteryour intended date of departure from your travel destination.Immigration officials often apply different rules to those statedby travel agents and official sources.
There are no health risks associated with travel to New Zealand.New Zealand's accident compensation scheme (ACC) covers emergencytreatment for visitors, but health insurance is recommended tocover any additional charges and for those not entitled to freeemergency treatment. Those intending to participate in adventureactivities, such as bungee jumping, white water rafting, etc shouldensure that their travel insurance covers these types ofactivities.
Gratuities are not expected in New Zealand and service chargesare not applied to bills, but it is acceptable to tip at yourdiscretion.
New Zealand has a reputation as one of the safest destinationsin the world, however sensible precautions against petty theft arestill advised.
Quarantine procedures mean that strict bio-security regulationsare in place at immigration points into New Zealand. It is illegalto import most foodstuffs, and care should be taken when importingwood products, golf clubs and shoes (which may have soil and dirtattached), and items made from animal skin. The immigrationarrivals card has full details.
New Zealand is ranked first in the World Bank's Easeof Doing Business rankings. The business culture of New Zealandconforms to a typically British model: formal, reserved andconservative. However, this is tempered with a characteristicallyAntipodean warmth and friendliness, creating a relaxed, yetprofessional atmosphere.
Business etiquette in New Zealand will be familiar tothose who've worked in western corporate environments before. Usetitles, until instructed not to do so, and maintain eye contactwhen speaking to your associates. Business meetings should bescheduled at least a week in advance, and then confirmed a few daysbefore they are due to take place. The dress code for business inNew Zealand is usually formal. For meetings, men should stick to adark suit, worn with a tie; and women should wear a smartdress/business suit/pants suit and limited accessories.
The official language of business in New Zealand isEnglish, and business hours are generally from 8.30am (or 9am) to5pm, Monday to Friday; and 9am to 12.30pm on Saturdays.
The international access code for New Zealand is +64. Theoutgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g.0061 for Australia). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)9 forAuckland and (0)4 for Wellington. Vodafone offers GSM 900 coveragein and around the main cities and popular holiday areas. A goodoption is to purchase a local prepaid SIM card at the airport onarrival in New Zealand. Wifi access is widely available in hotels,restaurants and other tourist establishments, except in some of themore remote areas.
Travellers to New Zealand over 17 years do not have to pay dutyon 50 cigarettes, or 50g of cigars or tobacco, or a mixture of allthree not exceeding 50g; three bottles of spirits or liqueur eachcontaining not more than 1,125ml; 4.5 litres of wine or beer; andother goods to the value of NZD 700. Goods exceeding the allowancesmust be declared. Personal effects not dutiable include items suchas jewellery, binoculars, portable radios, prams, campingequipment, cameras and video cameras. Prohibited items includeconcealed firearms, foodstuffs, animals, plants and plant products.It is forbidden to export Greenstone, Maori antiquities and Pauashells (unless they are products manufactured from such shells).Prescription medications need to be accompanied by a doctor'sletter and the original prescription, they should not amount tomore than three months worth of the medication.
Tourism New Zealand, Wellington:+64 4 462 8000 orwww.newzealand.com
New Zealand Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 3284800.
New Zealand High Commission, London, United Kingdom (alsoresponsible for Ireland): +44 20 7930 8422.
New Zealand High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 2385991.
New Zealand High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 4359000.
New Zealand High Commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 62704211.
United States Embassy, Wellington: +64 4 462 6000.
British High Commission, Wellington: +64 4 924 2888.
Canadian High Commission, Wellington: +64 4 473 9577.
Honorary Consulate of South Africa, Wellington: +64 4 8158484.
Australian High Commission, Wellington: +64 4 473 6411.
Honorary Consul General of Ireland, Auckland: +64 9 9197450.
The Hauraki Gulf is studded with numerous islands,some recreation retreats and others conservation islands withrestricted access for the protection of rare bird, animal, andplant life. Waiheke is the most popular, with picturesque bays andwhite sandy beaches, rolling farmlands, and hills cloaked withvineyards and fine wineries. Uninhabited Rangitoto is a largevolcanic cone with an unusual landscape of black distorted lavashapes. It is possible to hike up to the crater rim and explore thelava caves on the slopes. Each island has its own distinctcharacter, so tourists can decide if they want to explore naturalgeographic features, relax on the beach, or simply wander aroundgalleries and cafes.
The Bay of Islands is famous for its beautifulcoastal scenery. Interspersed with numerous little coves, inletsand sandy beaches, the historical townships of Paihia, Waitangi andRussell are the central hubs of the area. Sailing and boat cruisesaround the islands are the main attraction, but the naturalsurroundings and warm waters of the bay make it an ideal place forkayaking, swimming, diving, and fishing. The bay is also ofhistorical significance as the place where the Treaty of Waitangiwas first signed between the European settlers and Maori chiefs in1840.
Hamilton is a pretty town 80 miles (128km) south of Auckland.Its proximity to the bigger city means it is often overlooked bytourists in New Zealand. However, as an excursion from Auckland,Hamilton has some worthwhile sights to offer. There are several hotsprings around Hamilton, and the city is full of gardens, parks andriver walks. Not far out of Hamilton is Matamata, home to theHobbiton Movie Set, the 'Hobbit village' created for The Lord ofthe Rings film trilogy. Guided 'film and farm' tours are offeredfor fans of the movies.