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Geography and Landscape


New Zealand (officially: Dominion of New Zealand), is a constitutional monarchy in the Pacific, a member of the Commonwealth and a part of the continent of Oceania.New Zealand Satellite Photo photo: NASA, public domain

The total land area is 267,515 km2. The total coastline is 15,134 kilometers. New Zealand includes the North Island (115,000 km2 and in Maori: Maui), the South Island (151,000 km2 and in the Maori: Pounamu), Stewart Island (1,735 km2), the Chatham Islands (963 km2) and a number of smaller uninhabited islands (total 320 km2) such as, Campbell, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Snares and Kermadec.

In addition, there are overseas territories under the jurisdiction of New Zealand, the Tokelau Islands and the Ross Dependency in the Antarctic, and the self-governing overseas territories of the Cook Islands and Niue Island.

New Zealand is about the same size as Great Britain. Australia is 2,200 kilometers away and the two countries are separated by the Tasman Sea. Cook Strait is located between North and South Island. Foveaux Strait is located between South Island and Stewart Island.

The northernmost point of New Zealand is the Surville Cliffs on the North Island. The southernmost point is the southwestern cape of Stewart Island. The distance between these two points is about 1600 kilometers. The maximum width is approximately 450 kilometers on the North Island. New Zealand is located exactly halfway between the Equator and the South Pole. Wellington is the southernmost capital in the world.

Surville Cliffs, most northern poit of New Zealand
photo: LawrieM, Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (no changes made)

About 100 million years ago, New Zealand became detached from the Australian portion of the supercontinent Gondwana, which included South America, Antarctica, Africa and Australia. New Zealand is now on the border of the two largest tectonic plaice in the world. Australian plaice is home to North Island and the western part of South Island. On the Pacific plaice are the eastern and southern parts of South Island. Approx. For 10 million years, the two schools moved over each other and the mountains were formed on South Island. Most of the hills and mountains on North Island are of volcanic origin. Several islands off the coast of South Island are also of volcanic origin. Mountain formation continues to occur due to volcanism and the movement of the two plaice past each other, and light and heavy earthquakes regularly occur.


Three-quarters of New Zealand's surface is above 200 meters. Furthermore, the North and South Island are mountainous. The highest peak is Mount Cook (3764 meters) in the New Zealand Alps on the South Island. Other high mountains are Mount Dampier (3440 meters) and Mount Tasman (3499 meters). In total there are 223 peaks with altitudes of more than 2300 meters. Spread across North Island are impressive crater cones: Mount Egmont (2518 meters) on the west coast, extinct and heavily forested; to the east the still working Ruapehu (2797 meters), the Ngauruhoe (2291 meters), sometimes with steam and gas operation, and the Tongariro (1986 meters). The last major eruption of the Ruapehu dates from 1997. There are a number of spectacular glaciers in the Southern Alps. The Southern Hemisphere's largest glacier outside of Antarctica is the Tasman Glacier which is over 28 kilometers long. The Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier cover an area of over 4,000 hectares.

The coastlines are fairly regular in shape with only a few deep fjords on the west coast of South Island. The Dusky Sound is the longest fjord in the country. These fjords were created after rising sea levels, when the ice age valleys were flooded. In this area is also the Sutherland Waterfall which plunges 580 meters down. The west coast of the North and South Island has high sand dunes, spectacular rock formations and cliff-like coasts.

Dusky Sound, longest fjord of New Zealand
photo: Gérard Janot, Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (no changes made)

The South Island also contains the so-called Punakaiki Pancakerocks, a name that speaks for itself. The east coast of both islands is characterized by sometimes beautiful sandy beaches and beautiful bays and the sea here is much calmer than on the west coast. In the subtropical north of the Bay of Islands are the most beautiful sandy beaches of New Zealand and also about 150 small, mostly uninhabited islands.

Many glacial valleys have been filled with rain and melt water since the ice ages. As a result, there are some large lakes in the Southern Alps and Fiordland, including the lakes Pukaki, Wanaka, Wakatipu and Manapouri. There is still a very active central zone around the large Taupo Lake. In addition to short-term lava effluent, there are many boiling springs in this "pumice" -covered plain up to 600 meters high. Lake Hauroko is the deepest lake in New Zealand (462 meters).

Plenty Bay is home to the highly active White Island volcano, where high ash clouds are constantly thrown into the air. Whakarewarewa Park features many spouting geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs and steaming rock formations. The largest hot water lake in the world is located in the Waimangu Thermal Valley. The geyser Lady Knox sprays at a quarter past ten to heights of more than twenty meters. The largest geyser in New Zealand is the "Pohutu", which spouts a 30-meter fountain. The many rivers are all short and often not navigable due to the large decline, but are therefore very suitable for hydroelectric power generation, especially in connection with the numerous high-altitude lakes, which serve as a water reservoir.

Pohutu geyser, New Zealandphoto: Carl Lindberg, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made.

The longest river in the country is the Waikato River (425 km) on the North Island. The longest navigable river is the Whanganui River, also on the North Island. New Zealand also has fantastic cave systems to offer. On the North Island, for example, the Waitomo Caves and on the South Island, the glowworm caves of Te Anau and the Ngarua Caves.

Climate and Weather

The seasons are exactly opposite in New Zealand as in the United Kingdom. It is summer from December to February and winter from June to August. It is getting colder from north to south.

Rainy day Te Anau, New Zealand
photo: mjb84, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (no changes made)

North of Auckland it is subtropical and the rest of the country has a moderate maritime climate with long warm summers and mild winters with occasional frost. Most rain falls in spring and autumn. The Bay of Islands has an average rainfall of 1648 mm, 1300 mm in Auckland, 1271 mm in Wellington and 658 mm in Christchurch. Most precipitation falls in Milford Sound on the southwest coast of the South Island with approx. 7000 mm per year. The least precipitation falls in Los Angeles at approx. 400 mm per year. Eternal snow lies on the highest peaks of Mount Egmont National Park, Tongariro National Park and in the Southern Alps. Summers are fresh in these mountain areas and cold in winter with snow.

Average day and night temperatures in summer and winter are 25/15 °C in the Bay of Islands, 23/14 °C in Auckland, 20/11 °C in Wellington and 22/12 °C in Christchurch. The South Island has the largest temperature differences with warm and dry weather in the north and east and colder and wetter weather in the west and south.

Snowy landscape New Zealand
photo: Rachael, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (no changes made)

New Zealand lies in a belt of westerly winds, which are dominant here. The airflow is forced to rise along the entire west coast, which is accompanied by a lot of precipitation and the decreasing airflow brings much less precipitation east of the mountain ranges. There the landscape is quite dry and arid.

Cookstraat between the North and the South Island is known as very stormy due to a kind of chimney effect.

Plants and Animals

National parks

More than 7% of New Zealand's surface is occupied by seven national parks and 1,300 nature reserves. In addition, the forest reserves cover 15% of the surface of the country. The largest national park is the Fiordland of Sounds National Park, on the South Island. The main forest reserve is the Waipoua Kauri Forest Sanctuary (900 ha), on the North Island, where the nearly eradicated kauri tree is maintained.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages and owns all National Parks, Maritime Parks and Forest Parks. The Westland, Fiordland, Mount Cook, Mount Aspiring and Tongariro National Parks are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The plant world of New Zealand is very species-rich and varied and has its own character due to the many endemic species. As many as 2,500 species are endemic, as are 1,450 of the 1,650 flower-bearing plants. All trees that lose their leaves in winter have been introduced while the native tree species are green all year round. The similarity with Australia's plant world is remarkably small. New Zealand is a transition between the plant kingdoms of Paleotropis and Antarctis; mainly because of the mountainous character of the country, Antarctic elements predominate on the South Island. The north of the North Island originally bore a dense, very rich, subtropical rainforest, the kauri forest, with more than 100 different tree species from 47 families; the kauri and Beilschmiedia tarairi are the most characteristic here. This forest is also very rich in tree ferns, epiphytes and lianas.
The kaurie tree is a fir tree and the second largest tree in the world after North American redwood. The tree does not mature until about 800 years. The largest kaurie in the world is located in the Waipoua Kauri Forest, called "Tane Manhuta" and is about 1200 years old, 52 meters high and 13 meters in size. The number of cowrie trees shrank rapidly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and most forests had disappeared by then. Today it is a protected species and should not be cut down just like that.

Kauri tree "Tane Mahuta" in the Waipoua Forest.
photo: W. Bulach, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (no changes made)

The "rimu" is a red pine tree that grows in mixed forests and can reach a height of about 25 meters. The totara was used by the Maoris for making canoes and for building houses. The kahikatea is a narrow white pine that can be found in swampy areas. Native trees are also the kaikawaka, the matai, the tawa, the rata, the rewarewa and the kamahi. The yellow flowers of Kowhai have been declared a national flower. Logging is often compensated by planting the California radiata trees. The pohutukawa or Christmastree is found in the northern coastal regions and the nikau palm, the southernmost palm species in the world, on the South Island. Botanically, the cabbagetree is not a tree, but a kind of lily. Much of the forests on North Island were wiped out as early as in the year 200 by an eruption of the Taupo volcano. When the first Europeans arrived, sixty percent of the country was still forest. Most native forests have now given way to grass and arable land. In the southern part of the North Island and the north of the South Island, the western rainforest is still largely intact. In the plains it is mainly characterized by Podocarpus and Dacrydium species. At a higher elevation, it will be replaced by deciduous Nothofagus forests, which will predominate in the south of the South Island. To the south, the forest is getting lower and lower, so that epiphytes and lianas eventually become "ground plants".

More than ninety types of ferns are found in New Zealand. Most common is the royal fern with a leaf that is dark green at the top and silver-colored at the bottom. This leaf is a national symbol.

The leaf of the royal fern is a symbol of New Zealand
image: public domain

The tree ferns are the most impressive. The black mamaku can grow up to 20 meters in height and the ponga resembling the royal fern can grow up to 10 meters in length. Most plants have been imported by European settlers, such as foxglove, thistle, gorse, lupine and dog rose. Some of these species have become a real pest for sheep farmers, for example. The endemic New Zealand flax can be very common along rivers and in swamps. On the South Island, a very dense and highly branched scrub starts above 1200 meters, characterized by species of Dracophyllum (Epacridaceae), Olearia (Composite family) and Hoheria glabrata (Mallow family).
The alpine zone starts at 1350 meters, a semi-desert exposed to constant, strong winds. This is also home to the mountain daisy and gentian. Characteristic on the sparsely covered debris slopes are the New Zealand edelweiss (Leucogenes grandiceps), a white-flowering buttercup (Ranunculus buchanani), and Ourisia varieties of the figwort family. The Ranunculus buchanani is the largest buttercup in the world and is also called Mount Cook lily.

Ranunculus buchanani or Mount Cook lily
photo: Bernard Spragg. NZ, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication no changes made

The dry eastern slopes of the South Island were originally covered with the "tussock" steppe, consisting mainly of Danthonia species, Festuca novaezelandiae and Poa colensoi. At higher altitudes, the increasingly thrifty grass alternates with very peculiar, xeromorphic, grassy umbellifers and composites, as well as heather-like shrub-like Hebe species of the figwort family.


Before humans arrived in New Zealand, the isolated position of New Zealand meant that only two land mammals existed; two bat species. Foxes, deer, chamois, rabbits, opossums, ferrets and ermines were imported by Europeans. This pre-eminent example of fauna adulteration put heavy pressure on native wildlife. The approx. 70 million opossums have become a real pest, eating an estimated 21,000 tons of green and flowering vegetation every night.

Possums are a real threat and are fought with poison in New Zealand
photo: Andy king50, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

All these animals can be hunted indefinitely to limit the damage they cause. The number of bird species was and is only limited, about 300 species. All these birds suddenly had many natural enemies, but despite that many native birds still live in New Zealand. Cutting down many forests also meant that a number of species are still threatened with extinction.


New Zealand has about 300 bird species, of which only about half can actually be labeled as breeding birds. The kiwi is the most famous bird in New Zealand. This wingless, almost blind bird is a nocturnal animal that feeds on berries, insects and worms. The female lays one egg which is incubated by the male. The national pride of New Zealand is in severe danger. The country once had twelve million of these birds, now it is only seventy thousand. It is feared that the kiwi will become extinct within a century without measures.

Little spotted kiwi
photo: Judi Lapsley Miller, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International no changes made

The makomako is common on the South Island; on the North Island it leves only in the forests of Taranaki. The kakapo or owl parrot is almost extinct. It is a ground bird that can hardly fly. Especially imported cats, foxes and opossums have easy prey on this bird. The kakapo feeds on buds, roots and berries. The morepork is an indigenous owl species that nest in dead trees and feeds on birds, insects and small rodents.
The black saddleback with its reddish brown back is only found on special bird islands. On the mainland he would quickly fall prey to the predators and will not be released there. A member of the saddleback, the rare kokako lives only in the forests of North Taranaki and in the Puketi Kauri Forest. The kea is the only mountain parrot in the world and this green bird lives in the New Zealand Alps. It mainly feeds on plants. The New Zealand falcon lives in Fiordland and the Southern Alps and eats small birds and rodents.

Kea, rare bird in New Zealand
photo: gambier20, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The black-green colored pukeko lives in wetlands and is a good swimmer. The rare takahe is a rally species that lives in the Fiordland National Park. There are only about 150 specimens that feed on fern roots. What is the nightingale with us is the "bellbird" in New Zealand with its very high loud voice. In the Chatham Islands the very rare black robin still occurs. Through a special program, the number increased from seven in 1979 to about 150 copies. The kereru or New Zealand pigeon is common everywhere, in contrast to the blue duck that only occurs in high altitude areas.
Examples of species imported by the British are the hawk, falcon, lark, swallow, blackbird, starling, Australian black swan, white heron and California quail. The khaki or black stilt, the rarest wader in the world, probably only exist marginally. The king's albatross with a wingspan of three meters is still found on the Otago peninsula, near Taiaroa Head, while the black petrel only occurs worldwide at the Punakaiki Pancakerocks on the west coast of the South Island. Two other very rare birds are the Fiordland crested penguin and the yellow-eyed penguin, which are very similar in appearance. The blue penguin is still very common, but can only be seen at night when it comes ashore.

Fiordland crested penguin, rare in New Zealand
photo: travelwayoflife, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

The "scaup duck" is a small water bird that can dive up to 10 meters deep and only occurs in New Zealand. After the arrival of the first humans, it didn't take long for the moa or giant ostrich to become extinct. It happened as early as the early 14th century. Another spectacular extinct bird is the New Zealand eagle, believed to be the largest eagle to have ever lived.

Reptiles and insects and invertebrates

Reptiles are very sparingly represented with some lizards such as skinks, geckos and the famous bridge lizard or tuatara. The tuatara has a pedigree that goes back 220 million years to the Triassic, and is therefore considered the oldest animal in the world. Amphibians are limited to some archaic frogs of the genus Leiopelma. Snakes are not found in New Zealand.

Tuatara live only in New Zealand
photo: Michael Hamilton Digitaltrails, Creative Commons-licentie Naamsvermelding-Gelijk delen 3.0 Unported no changes made

The large weta is a winged grasshopper that only occurs on Barrier Island and the Poor Knight Islands. The black sand mosquito is the most famous insect in New Zealand and also the most difficult; in search of blood they hunt for everything that is in motion, including humans, especially! A well-known butterfly species is the thistle butterfly. Armed with a deadly poison is the katipo spider. Invertebrate fauna is also relatively poor, except for land snails; New Zealand has the largest diversity of lung snails in the world per unit area. Furthermore, the curious worm centipedes also occur.

Marine mammals and freshwater fish

Sperm whales, killer whales, dolphins, sea lions and fur seals are abundant in the seas around New Zealand. A total of 80 species of whales and nine species of dolphins including bottlenose dolphins, white-sided dolphins and the rarest dolphin in the world, the Hector dolphin.

photo: Avenue, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Native freshwater fish are completely absent from New Zealand. Trout and salmon in the lakes and rivers are descendants of specimens introduced in the nineteenth century. Millions of brown trout live in the lakes due to abundant food and the lack of natural enemies. Moreover, they are now on average five times larger than their British ancestors. The same story applies to the rainbow trout. Catfish, perch and carp are other introduced species.

In November 2009, Scottish scientists succeeded in capturing a rare species of fish near New Zealand at a depth of over seven kilometers. The fish were photographed in the Kermadectrog, a rift in the seabed off the coast of New Zealand at a depth of 7560 meters. No other fish in the Southern Hemisphere lives so deeply underwater. The animals are pink in color and have a striking spherical body with a long tail. The species is known under the name Notoliparis kermadecensis.


Discovery of New Zealand: myth or reality?

New Zealand's earliest history is shrouded in a mixture of fact and fiction, from true to myth. Around the year 925, the Polynesian navigator Kupe is said to have discovered New Zealand. Because of the low hanging clouds, the country was called Aotearoa by him: "the land of long white clouds". He looked at and explored the islands and then returned to the Hawaiki Islands with enthusiastic stories. Some assume that Hawaiki was one of the Society Islands in Eastern Polynesia.

Statue of Kupe, discovered New Zealandphoto: David Han, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

It was not until around 1200 that the Maoris returned to New Zealand due to overcrowding, disease, and tribal wars in Hawaiki. Still, New Zealand had been inhabited for several hundred years by primitive tribes who came from the islands of Eastern Polynesia. They were called Morioris and probably crossed to New Zealand and the Chatham Islands around c. 700.

Moriori people, end of 19th century
photo:, publiek domein

They were hunters and fishermen and to a limited extent farmers. They have been largely responsible for the extinction of the Moa, a large wingless bird. The Morioris who settled in the Chatham Islands were not endangered until the 19th century. Due to a lack of weapons, the Morioris in New Zealand had no chance against the warlike Maoris. In 1933 the last thoroughbred Moriori died.

Abel Tasman and James Cook

In 1642 the Dutchman Abel Janszoon Tasman (1603-1659) was commissioned to trace and investigate the "Zuidland" or the "terra incognita Australis". He was commissioned by Governor General Anthony van Diemen and the Council of the Indies. In August 1642 the two ships, the "Heemskerck" and the "Zeehaen" first left for Mauritius to deliver goods and to stock up on water and firewood. From October 8, Tasman headed to present-day Australia and first arrived at an unknown country called "Diemensland", later turned out to be the present-day island of Tasmania. They did not see Australia themselves, but a few weeks later on December 13, 1642 Tasman was the first European to see the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Dutchman Abel Tasman discovered New Zeland on December 13th, 1642photo: National Library of Australia, public domain

He continued his journey north and on December 19 met a group of hostile Maoris who killed some of his men. The newly discovered land was called "Statenland" and later changed to New Zealand, in honor of the province of Zeeland where so many naval heroes came from. Tasman sailed further north along the west coast of the North Island. The North Cape of New Zealand was called the Cape Maria van Diemen. Some more islands were discovered and then headed for Batavia, where Tasman arrived on June 15, 1643. The VOC was disappointed in the results that Tasman had achieved and he himself reported that the population was so hostile that trading was not yet possible.

More than a century later, the British explorer James Cook (1728-1779) made two trips around the world between 1768 and 1774. On October 7, 1769, he discovered the east coast of the North Island with his ship the "Endeavor". He also discovered the passage between the North and South Island and he did establish good relations with the Maoris. However, the Dutch and the British also showed little interest in New Zealand and still focused on the Dutch East Indies and India, respectively.

James Cook, discovered the east coast of New Zeland in 1769
photo: National Maritime Museum, United Kingdom, public domain


Coromandèl is the name of a small trading post (factory) of the VOC on the North Island of what is now New Zealand. The factory was founded by the crew of a lost ship. Spices were traded with the population here and shipped to the Netherlands.

Coromandel Peninsula
photo: Alexander Klink, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

This small trading post was named Coromandèl, and was named after a family member of Abel Tasman. The small area was a Dutch factory between 1687 and 1696. The Dutch left the trading post on the North Island in 1696 when it no longer yielded much profit.

New Zealand becomes a British colony

The first whalers reached New Zealand in the early 1800s. They came from Tasmania and Australia and settled in the Bay of Islands, the northern part of North Island. There was even some trade between the Maoris and Britain sent a number of missionaries to this area. Furthermore, Britain's meddling did not continue until the French came on the scene. They were interested in New Zealand, with the result that on 30 January 1840 the British proclaimed sovereignty over New Zealand. After that, a treaty was quickly concluded between the Maoris and the British, the Treaty of Waitangi on February 6, 1840.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi - The Treaty of Waitangi: group of nine documents: seven on paper and two on parchment.
photo: Archives New Zealand, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

New Zealand became a British colony and the French were defeted. Through this treaty, the Maoris recognized the sovereignty of Great Britain and, in turn, the Maoris gained the same rights as British subjects and also recognized the ownership of their land. This last point later caused major problems due to differences in interpretation. The Maoris thought they still owned all New Zealand land. The British only meant the land that the Maori worked and cultivated at the time. This gave rise to bloody conflicts such as the Taranaki War, also known as the First Maori War. The British settlement in Taranaki was set on fire and destroyed by the Maoris. An army of ten thousand British soldiers retaliated in a battle that would last another five years.
After the treaty was signed, the British decided to take a structured approach to the colonization of New Zealand. To this end, the New Zealand Company was founded in 1840 by Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796-1862).

Edward Gibbon Wakefield Nies Zealand
photo: Benjamin Holl (1808-1884), public domain

It was decided to sell the land at set prices and the money was used to pay for the emigrants' crossing. This was so attractive that all the land was sold within a few months. When the first settlers arrived, however, more land appeared to have been sold than was actually available. The British government stepped into the breach and started to buy land on a large scale, which meant that the colonization was completed and the New Zealand Company could be dissolved. The city of Wellington was also founded around this time.
To restore order, George Grey was sent to New Zealand as Governor of Special Powers in 1845. Gray, on the one hand, acted very hard, but on the other hand regained the confidence of the Maoris through honest action. On December 23, 1846, New Zealand received a new constitution. It was given the names New Munster and New Ulster and was divided into provinces, each under its own governor. In 1848, the constitution was provisionally inactivated. The New Zealand Company was dissolved in 1851 and a new constitution was issued in 1852.

George Grey, prime minister New Zealand
photo: William Henry Whitmore Davis, public domain

Provincial councils, a general council next to the governor and a general representative were appointed. The right to vote for all these bodies was tied to the census. This system functioned in a way that actually made the six provinces into so many independent states. The settlement of the relationship to the indigenous people was left to the British government. In 1856 New Zealand was granted a degree of autonomy. Meanwhile, the Maoris felt cornered by the government's increasing land purchases, while the white population, feeling the growing tension among the Maoris, feared its extermination. That is how the Second Maori War (1860-1870) came about, in fact a series of bloody disturbances that were mainly confined to the North Island. The Maoris attempted to unite under a king, but failed. Their Hau-Haub movement (since 1865), which was based on an ideology that mixed elements of its own and biblical faith, targeted Christianity and foreign domination. However, the Maoris were unable to survive.

They lost their land through forced sale or confiscation. A huge influx of settlers had since followed the discovery of gold at Otago (1861). In 1862, the system of land pre-emption was abandoned by the government, removing the last protection of the indigenous people from the loss of land ownership. In 1865 Wellington became capital of New Zealand. From 1870 to 1890, one ministry, under Sir Harry Atkinson, was in government. This period was marked by a deep depression, and government and government were centralized again in 1875. The introduction of cooling chambers on ships meant a revolution for New Zealand (1882) because sheep were now also bred for slaughter. In 1881, the first measures against mass immigration of Chinese workers were taken.

Sir Harry Atkinson New Zealandphoto: unknown, public domain

In 1887, the Kermadece Islands were annexed and in 1900 the Cook Islands, Savage Island and Suvorov Island. General male suffrage was introduced in 1889, and in 1890 the combined liberal and workers' parties came into government.

Through unique social legislation, state socialism and economic planning, enormous progress was made in the next twenty years. Agriculture was intensified; small land ownership was greatly favored. In 1893 the women also got the right to vote and in 1909 the Labor Party, which had formed a whole with the Liberal Party, seceded as a separate party. Major strikes occurred during this time. In 1912, the conservative National Party came back into government. Meanwhile, New Zealand had become an autonomous dominion on September 26, 1907. In both World War I and World War II, New Zealand soldiers along with Australian soldiers formed the ANZAC, Australia, New Zealand Army Corps, which fought in Europe, Africa, and Asia against the Germans and Japanese. In 1919, Western Samoa became New Zealand's mandate territory. In 1930 New Zealand was severely affected by the world crisis and the government proceeded to drastically cut costs and cut wages, among other things. Extensive social legislation was also largely ineffective. The Labor Party then entered the opposition but again won the elections in November 1935. Michael Joseph Savage (1872-1940) then came with a Labor cabinet and the government nationalized banking, regulated exports, restored the arbitration system in labor disputes, set minimum wages and nationalized railways.

Michael Joseph Savage, 23rd prime minister of New Zealand
photo: Archives New Zealand, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

New Zealand independant

In 1947, New Zealand became an independent, autonomous member of the British Commonwealth. In November 1949, the conservatives under S. Holland returned to government, but the political and social structure no longer changed significantly. The Upper House was dissolved on January 1, 1951. New Zealand's agriculture-oriented economy flourished in the 1950s as never before, and New Zealanders' incomes were very high. However, they "forgot" to industrialize and they remained very dependent on the largest buyer, Great Britain, for exports. In 1957 Labor was able to form a government again under the leadership of W. Nash.

Walter Nash, 27nd prime minister of New Zealand
photo: onbekend, public domain

On January 1, 1962, the Western Samoa mandate obtained independence. The government, which has been re-formed by the Conservatives since 1960, backed Malaysia in 1964 with the conflict with Indonesia, and relations with the United States became closer as a result of New Zealand's support for U.S. Vietnam politics. In November 1972, the Conservative National Party had to surrender its majority to the Labor Party. Immediately after taking office, new Prime Minister David Lange of the Labor Party announced a docking ban on nuclear-powered war ships in New Zealand ports. This led to great tensions with the United States and Australia. In 1973, Britain joined the EEC, which, together with the oil crisis, caused an economic disaster. Agricultural products were now mainly imported from the EC countries.
New Zealand had to borrow a lot of money, causing the foreign debt to rise sharply, resulting in enormous inflation. Even now, this situation is still slowly changing for the better. November 1975 elections brought the National Party, now led by Robert Muldoon (1921-1992), another victory.

Robert Muldoon, prime minister of New Zealand
photo: unknown, public domain

They remained in government until 1984. However, Muldoon lost the 1984 elections after a conflict over whether or not workers were free to join a union of their choice. In 1985, New Zealand hit the headlines when the French were sunk the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbor. The Greenpeace ship took action against French nuclear tests in the South Pacific.

Rainbow Warrior in the harbour of Auckland
photo: Ot, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 Internationa no changes made

National Party and Labor alternate

David Lange's Labor Party (1942-2005) came to power in 1984; they focused more on privatization, deregulation and the elimination of subsidies. This reduced the budget deficit, but unemployment continued to rise.Lange (labourparty) was reelected in 1987 and began privatizing many state-owned companies. However, his popularity quickly declined, also within the Labor Party.

David Lange, prime minister of New Zealand
photo: Courtesy of Horowhenua Historical Society inc, Levin, New Zealand, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

He resigned in 1988 and was succeeded by G. Palmer. He pursued an economically laissez-faire policy and, for lack of results, also had to leave the field prematurely and was replaced in the late 1990s by M. Moore. Elections in 1990 yielded another major victory for the National Party after six years of Labor rule, whose new leader, James Brendon Bolger, became prime minister. Major cutbacks in social security were initiated in 1991. The 1990 elections were won by the National Party led by James Brendon Bolger. He continued on the chosen path and the reforms were now working out well. In 1992, an agreement was reached between the government and the Maoris on the regulation of fishing rights, as enshrined in the Waitangi Convention (1840). The Maoris (12% of the population) received 50% of domestic fishing under the agreement.
In 1993, the system of proportional representation was adopted by referendum. This meant that small parties can also get a vote in parliament. After the first new-style elections, Maori-dominated New Zealand First took on a key role in New Zealand politics, with the November 1993 elections gaining 50 of the 99 seats. Bolger stayed on, but was forced to make concessions to his hardline of economic reform.
In the simultaneous referendum on the future electoral system, a majority voted in favor of proportional representation, leaving the existing district system. In 1995 the economy grew strongly in a highly liberalized climate. Prime Minister Bolger of the National Party formed a coalition with the United Party in late February 1996, which allowed the government to count on a majority of one seat in parliament.

Jim Bolger, 35th prime minister of New Zealand
photo: New Zealand Government, Office of the Governor-General, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International no changes made

The parliamentary elections of October 1996 meant a significant loss to the National Party, but in December Bolger nevertheless formed his third cabinet, a coalition with the New Zealand First Party (NZFP). After some unclear political maneuvering, New Zealand gets the first female prime minister with Jenny Shipley and Bolger is forced to step down.

Jenny Shipley, first female prime minister of New Zealand
photo: New Zealand Ministry for Women, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Bolger was abroad at the time, when Labor won elections in November 1999 and Helen Clark became the first elected female prime minister. Labor formed a coalition with the left-wing Alliance Party, but rely heavily on support from the Greens.
In the September 17, 2005 parliamentary election, Prime Minister Helen Clark's Labor Party, with 50 seats (41% of the vote), was one seat ahead of Don Brash's opposition National Party (49 seats, 40%). Labor thus lost two seats compared to the elections in 2002, National won 22 seats at the expense of the small parties. Although the "Foreshore and Seabed" issue of Maori claims to the New Zealand coastal area dominated political debate during the recent reign, this was eclipsed by the theme of tax cuts in the election battle. However, the Labor-based Maori Party has achieved four seats.
On October 17, 2005, Helen Clark ushered in her third reign with the announcement of the new cabinet. This makes her the longest serving Labor Prime Minister in New Zealand history. Clark has partnered with Jim Anderton's Progressive Party to form a minority cabinet, supported by New Zealand First and United Future through a Confidence and Supply Agreement. With this, the necessary 61 seats have been achieved. Since they are not part of the coalition, the leaders of the latter two parties have been appointed as 'Ministers outside Cabinet'. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has become Secretary of State and United Future leader Peter Dunne has become Minister of Revenue ('Revenue'). In October 2007, Maori activists are arrested on charges of planning violent actions.

Helen Clark, 37th prime minister of New Zealand
photo: Global Commission on Drug Policy, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In November 2008 John Key leads the center-right National Party to an election victory. In June 2009, the economy shrank in a row for the fifth quarter, marking the longest recession in New Zealand. In November 2009, 6.5% of the population was unemployed, the highest percentage in 9 years. In January 2010, relations with Fiji are restored following months of diplomatic feud over visas for the military government of Fiji. In early September 2010, Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale. It was the worst earthquake in New Zealand in the last eighty years; almost two thirds of the 160,000 homes in and around the city were more or less damaged.

Earthquake Christchurch
photo: Gabriel, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

John Key, 38e minister-president van Nieuw-Zeeland
photo: UNDP, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic, no changes made

John Key wins the election in 2011. In April 2013, New Zealand became the first country in Oceania to legalize same-sex marriage. At the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, New Zealand will again have to deal with a number of earthquakes, but the damage is not too bad. Prime Minister Key won the parliamentary elections in September 2014. His national party remains in power with the help of three smaller parties. In 2015 and 2016, New Zealand occupied a seat on the UN Security Council. John Key unexpectedly resigns in December 2016 and is succeeded by Bill English.
The October 2017 elections do not give a clear result Jacinda Ardern of the Labor Party forms a coalition government. Her centre-left party trailed the previously ruling conservative National Party on election night, and required the combined support of the populist New Zealand First party and the Greens to confirm a majority government. She won praise at home and abroad for her handling of two major crises - the 2019 Christchurch mosque shooting, and the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

Jacinda Ardern, 39th prime minister of New Zealand
photo: Labour Party, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand no changes made



New Zealand has 4,510,327 inhabitants (2017). The average population density is approximately 16.4 inhabitants per km2. Approx. 75% of the population lives on the North Island and more than 1.5 million people live in the Auckland conurbation alone. The capital Wellington has approximately 411,000 inhabitants. The largest cities on the South Island are Christchurch, the island capital and Dunedin. About 86% of the population lives in urbanized areas. The annual population increase was 0.79% (2017). The population structure is as follows: 0-14 years 20%, 15-64 years 65%, 65+ 15%. The birth and death rates are 13.2 and 7.5 per 1000 inhabitants, respectively. Life expectancy is 79 years for men and 83.5 years for women.

New Zealand people after terrorist attaque
photo: Kristina Hoeppner, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The two main ethnic groups are the whites of European, mainly British, origin (71.2%) and the Maori, the original inhabitants (14.1%). British were allowed to emigrate to New Zealand until 1974 if they wanted to. Approx. 7.6% of the population is of Polynesian descent. Most Maoris live on the North Island (approx. 90%). Due to a high birth rate and improved living conditions, the number of Maoris is increasing rapidly. On the other hand, the number of purebred Maoris is decreasing due to the increasing number of mixed marriages. After the Second World War there has been a significant immigration of Dutch (about 35,000 emigrants), Danes and Italians and since the 1970s mainly Australians and Asians. In addition, there are smaller groups of Chinese, Indians and other Polynesians.
The last wave of emigrants from Asia mostly concerned wealthy people from Hong Kong who sought refuge after the return of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China. A special group are the more than one hundred thousand immigrants from Pacific islands, all looking for work that they often do not find. Emigration to Australia is increasing in the hope of better working and living conditions.


Ancestor worship is still important in traditional Maori society. The many gods represent things like war, heaven, sea and mountains. Other important parts of the religion are the life force (mairu), the spirit (wairua) and the spiritual force (mana). For the past two centuries, Christianity has had a profound influence on the ancient Maori traditions, and by the 1840s almost all Maoris were converted to the Christian faith.
Major male Maoris still have tattoos on parts of the body. Women only have tattoos on the face.

Maori facial tattoo
photo: Parkinson, Sydney, 1745-1771, publiek domein

The traditional Maori society is made up of about 50 tribes named after the canoes that brought their ancestors to New Zealand. The Maori were traditionally warriors, but they also worked on the land and hunted. All members of a tribe jointly owned the territory in which they lived. In the middle of all the villages was the "marae", an open courtyard central to social life. In that area there was always a kind of community house or "whare runanga". The Maoris believe that the ancestors also reside in this house. There used to be a clear division into classes, namely nobility, priests and slaves.

Maoris ceremonial dance
photo: Jorge Royan, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Today, the Maoris are integrated into New Zealand society. Telling stories about historical events from generation to generation is of great importance to Maori society. Song, dance, music, certain gestures and poetry are also important here. Making artistic wood carvings has always been a specialty of the Maoris. Textile processing and jewelry making are also popular. The Maoris greet each other by pressing their noses together. This way of greeting is called "hongi".

Hongi, Maori ritual
photo: New Zealand Defence Force, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The increasing guilt awareness of the whites has developed a self-awareness called "Maoritanga" which means that people are proud of their own cultural heritage. When the first whites arrived, the maoris called themselves "tangata maori" which means "the common people". The whites, on the other hand, they called "pakeha", non-Maoris. The social position of most Maoris is currently not so good. Nearly half of the Maoris receive government support and a quarter earn only NZ $ 400 a week. Only a small number have a leading position in government or business. The number of academically trained Maoris is also small. It is clear that this often leads to problems between the Maoris and the white population of New Zealand. The issue of land rights has dominated the relationship between the government and the Maoris since the nineteenth century. In fact, by the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, the Maoris were expropriated from their land. They themselves thought that they only gave the British the right to govern their country. The Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1994 and efforts were made to resolve the problem definitively. Despite a number of statements and commitments, a final settlement is not yet in sight.


English, with a clearly audible accent, and Maori (since 1987) are the official languages of New Zealand. There is a kind of "Kiwi snake":

Some examples of this are:

Maori is spoken by more than 3% of the population and the Maoris themselves speak both languages. The number of Maori who still speak Maori among themselves is getting less and less.

Maori has some similarities with Indonesian dialects and Polynesian languages as spoken in Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia.

Maori pronouns
image: Wiremu Stadtwald Demchick, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International no changes made

The Maori alphabet has only fifteen letters: the a, e, h, i, k, m, n, o, p, r, t, u, w, ng, and wh. The last letter is pronounced as a hard f. Maori has no S-sounds.

Most geographic names are of Maori origin and translate well, such as:

Some Maori words and expressions:

The word Maori was first used by the Europeans and means normal or ordinary.


The New Zealand population is largely Protestant. Of the Reformed churches, the Anglican Church is the largest with a quarter of the population, followed by the Presbyterians (19%), Methodists and Baptists. There are also approximately 426,000 Roman Catholics and among others Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Muslims, Hindus, and followers of the Baha'i faith.
The Anglican Church is divided into seven dioceses and a separate diocese for the Maoris. The Presbyterian Church is divided into 23 Presbyteria and a Maori Synod. Every year a so-called "moderator", the president of the Presbyterian Church, is elected. The Methodist Church is divided into ten districts and the "President" is also elected annually. The Roman Catholic Church is divided into four dioceses, headed by the Archbishop of Wellington.

Oldest church is loocated in Russell, New Zealand (1836)
photo: Chris Gilson, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Most Maoris have joined the various Protestant denominations after intensive missionary missionary activity, but many of them belong to the Ratana and Ringatu faiths, a form of Maori Christianity.
Ringatu was founded by Te Kooti after a number of apparitions, and revived in the early 20th century by the Tuhoe prophet Rua Kerana. This church has many followers in the Bay of Plenty on the North Island.
The Ratana Church was founded by Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana (1873-1939). At one point, the Ratana faith even had political influence when four adherents of the faith were in parliament. There are about 40,000 followers. Approx. 20% of the population is atheist.

Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, founder of the Ratana Church, New Zealand
photo: Sam Dale, public domain


State structure

New Zealand does not have a constitution, but the state structure and powers, duties and responsibilities of the various state bodies are enshrined in court rulings, some statutes and in the UK Act to Grant a Representative Constitution to the Colony of New Zealand.
The official head of state of New Zealand is the British king (queen), who is represented by a governor-general. The British Queen has the official title "Queen of New Zealand". The parliament consists of the House of Representatives, which has 120 members, of which 5 must be statutory. Sixty members are elected by universal suffrage and 55 members by party lists.

photo: Michal Klajban, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 Internationa no changes made

Members of parliament are elected for three years and there is universal suffrage for anyone over the age of 18. Everyone who is entitled to vote has two votes, one vote to vote for a party and one vote to vote for a person. Each Member of Parliament represents a specific constituency. The House of Lords was dissolved in 1951.
The governor general and parliament form the legislature. The Governor General appoints the Prime Minister and ministers on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Governor General and the Cabinet of Ministers together form the Executive Council. Members of the cabinet must also be members of parliament. New Zealand's first female Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, took over the premiership from Jim Bolger on December 8, 1997.
New Zealand was also the first country in the world to give women the right to vote in 1893. Under the Local Government Act of 1974, 16 regional governments were appointed, which were reduced to 12 after a reorganization in 1989. These regional governments are responsible for regional planning, police and forestry, among other things. Apart from this, the "Auckland Regional Authority" has existed for some time.

Coat of Arms of the Auckland Regional Council
photo: Jayswipe, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

At the local level there are city administrations for the "boroughs" and, with more than 20,000 inhabitants, the "cities", district councils and municipalities. So-called statistical areas are also used for data, but they do not have administrative status. For the current political situation see chapter history.


New Zealand gives high priority to education and illiteracy is therefore almost non-existent. Free education is compulsory for all children between the ages of five and sixteen. Most of them therefore start education at the age of five and often have already completed pre-primary education, all subsidized by the state. For children who live very remote, there is the option of written education. Kohanga Reo kindergarten and Te Kura Kaupapa are language schools for Maori. Private schools often have a religious background.

KiNZ Myers Park' kindergarten in Myers Park, Auckland City, New Zealand
photo: Ingolfson, public domain

There are approximately 2,300 primary schools and 350 secondary schools. New Zealand has seven universities and a number of teacher training and technical courses. There are two higher Maori courses, "Te Wananga O Raukawa" in Otaki and "Te Wananga O Aotearoa" in Awamutu.

photo: Mr Bungle, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic no changes made



More than half of New Zealand's total land area is used as an agricultural or pasture land. The economy of a modern country like New Zealand is therefore highly dependent on a small number of agricultural products, in particular wool, meat and butter. Yet just under 7% of the workforce works in this agricultural sector, which accounts for more than 50% of export earnings (2017). The transition to a more industrial society is almost impossible due to the relatively small domestic market and the great distance from overseas markets. However, since 1984, the government has been trying to turn the agricultural economy, which is largely dependent on the British market, into a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally.

Port of Auckland container loading area
photo:, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand, no change made

In any case, this approach has resulted in an increase in per capita income and an improvement in the technological capacities of the industrial sector. The inflation rate was also contained and among the lowest in the industrialized world (2013: 1.9%). However, the economic future remains uncertain due to the high dependence on the economic situation in Asia, Europe and the United States. In 2017, the Gross National Product was $ 189 billion, that is, $ 39,000 per capita. Economic growth was 3% in 2017. Although access to the European Union has become more difficult, New Zealand has managed to increase exports to Asian countries, the Middle East and the United States, leaving a trade surplus. In 2017, 4.7% of the labor force were unemployed. The share among the Maori population is three times as large.

Agriculture, livestock farming, fishing and forestry

Livestock farming is the most important sector in agriculture, with approximately 9 million cattle. The dairy farms and the companies with intensive sheep and beef cattle farming are mainly located on the North Island. New Zealand is one of the world's largest exporters of lamb and mutton. Extensive sheep farming in the highlands of the South Island mainly serves for wool production. New Zealand is the third wool producing and second wool exporting country in the world. There are about 50 million sheep and there are companies that have more than 12,000 sheep.

New Zealand has a lot of sheep, a great lot
photo: Rob Young from United Kingdom, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The crop yield, which mainly focuses on the cultivation of grain, oats, barley, potatoes, vegetables, fruit and tobacco, fully covers domestic demand. Special products include the "kumara", a sweet potato that only grows on the North Island and "tamarillos", a type of fleshy tomatoes. Nashis is a cross between an apple and a pear. Important export products are kiwis, which were once imported themselves, passion fruit, apples and pears. For the domestic market, oranges, limes, cherries, plums and apricots are grown.

Kumaras for sale in Thames North Island, New Zealand
photo: James Shook, aka JShook, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic no changes made

Kiwis, improtant expport product of New Zealand

Photo:A.J.Morris Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The rich fishing grounds around New Zealand, which also include oysters, lobster and mussels, have been exploited considerably more professionally since the 200-mile zone was established. An annual quota system ensures that the different fish species are managed responsibly. Fish farms are also on the rise.
A quarter of New Zealand's surface is covered with forests (which used to be 80%), which increasingly supply raw materials for the timber industry. The wood industry exports, among other things, wood, wood pulp, paper and veneer.

Mining, industry and energy

New Zealand's major resources are coal, natural gas, gold, silver and limestone. The six natural gas fields cover a large part of the energy demand, but these fields are expected to produce less in the future. A number of oil fields have also been put into production in the Tasman Sea.
Industry employs 20% of the workforce and this sector contributes 21.5% to GNP (2017). People mainly work in small and medium-sized companies and heavy industry is rare. Industry accounts for approximately 25% of total exports. Important branches of industry are: metal and machine industry, the wood, cellulose, furniture and paper industry, the leather and upholstery industry and the food industry. Bluff on the South Island is home to the largest aluminum smelter in the Southern Hemisphere.
Power generation and supply are government-owned and provided by hydropower and geothermal power plants. The country has great hydropower potential due to the numerous rivers and lakes. Three quarters of the electricity is generated by hydropower. Solar and wind energy are also becoming increasingly important.

Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter
photo: unknown, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic no changes made


Agricultural exports are still the main source of income. Main export products are therefore livestock, meat and meat products, wool, butter, pulp, paper, cheese and skins. In 2017, exports amounted to $ 37.4 billion and the main customers are: Japan, Australia, China and the United States. Imports are mainly machines and transport equipment, fuels and chemicals. In 2017, $ 39.7 billion was imported. Main suppliers are: China, Australia, Japan, the United States and Germany.


New Zealand has an extensive road network (in total 100,000 km) in both North and South Island. It is noteworthy that New Zealand has 15,800 bridges. The rail network (4,273 km) connects the main population centers and is privatized in 1990 by New Zealand Rail Ltd. operated, which also maintains an extensive bus network.

Matangi electric multiple unit train FP/FT 4103 at Wellington railway station
photo: Matthew25187 at en.wikipedia, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Maritime shipping is very important to the economy of New Zealand. The main ports are: Whangarei, Wellington, Auckland, Picton, Lyttelton and Taurange. Aviation is indispensable for domestic traffic due to the large distances that sometimes have to be covered. Many small private airlines, Air New Zealand and air taxi services maintain the connections. International air traffic is maintained by Air New Zealand and numerous foreign airlines. International airports exist in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

Boeing 737 of Air New Zealand
photo: Benchill, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Holidays and Sightseeing

Tourism is an increasingly important part of the New Zealand economy. Tourism provides approximately 80,000 jobs and more than 1.5 million visitors spend more than $ 2.5 billion every year. Tourism is growing almost three times faster here than in the rest of the world. The top five foreigners are Australians, Americans, Japanese, British and Koreans.
New Zealand is strongly committed to so-called "ecotourism", in which measures are taken to ensure that tourism develops responsibly. In 1991, the Natural Resources Management Act, the Resource Management Act, was passed. Responsible handling of the environment including the country's cultural and historical heritage is central to this Act. With this law, New Zealand is a global leader in terms of tourism and nature management policies.

House in Shannon on New Zeeland Heritage list no. 4054
photo: Michal Klajban, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Auckland is the largest city and the largest port in New Zealand. Auckland Town Hall has a concert hall with great acoustics, making it one of the most famous concert halls in the world. Mount Eden is a volcanic cone with a grassy crater. Mount Eden is the highest point in Auckland City and offers fantastic views of Auckland and is very popular with tourists. Read more on the Auckland page of Landenweb.

Christchurch is a thriving, vibrant city on the South Island of New Zealand and the capital of the Canterbury region. It is New Zealand's third largest city, and the only South Island city with an international airport. Christchurch has a diverse mix of tourist attractions, with historic buildings, beaches with exceptional surfing, numerous shopping areas and restaurants. You will see whales and dolphins swimming.

Christchurch International Airport
photo: Schwede66, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

You can even ski in the nearby Southern Alps, just a short drive from the city center. Christ Church Cathedral was a spectacular Anglican building from 1865, it was severely damaged in the recent earthquakes and has since been demolished. Cathedral Square in the center of the city is surrounded by the four Avenues of Bealey, Fitzgerald, Moorhouse and Rolleston. Christchurch Pier on the eastern side of the city extends over 300 meters into the sea. The Christchurch Town Hall is a fairly recent monument built in the early 1970's. The River Avon meanders through the heart of the city center.

Generally considered to be New Zealand's most attractive large city, Wellington serves as a major intersection between the North Island and South Island. Wellington has many tourist attractions. The most visited are: The City to Sea Bridge, which is a beautiful pedestrian bridge that connects the city center to the Lambton Quay district. The striking Parliament buildings with the breathtaking modern Beehive building and the eye-catching Parliamentary Library. The Government House is home to the Queen's representative. The National Library and Archives hold a wealth of important artifacts and historical documents. The Old Government Buildings are one of the largest wooden buildings in the world and date back to 1876. There are also a number of exciting museums to visit in Wellington.

City to Sea Bridge, Michael Fowler Centre and Wellington Town Hall in background
photo: Stuartyeates, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Museum of Wellington City & Sea
foto: Musuems Wellington, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

New Zealand is seen by many people as one of the most beautiful countries in the world in terms of nature. The country has a large number of national parks. A third of the territory is protected in (national) parks and reserves. Famous national parks are the Abel Tasman National Park and the Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park. A huge glacier is the Fox Glacier. The beautiful volcanic area of Rotorua is unique in the world. The movie The Lord of the Rings after Tolkien's book of the same name was shot in New Zealand and has given a boost to (eco) tourism.

Matamata, scenes of Lord of the Rings were recorded here
photo: miss_rogue, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

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Driessen, J. / Reishandboek Nieuw-Zeeland

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Last updated October 2021
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