It might be quite difficult to find New Zealand on the world map instantly. This least populated country in the world is situated in Polynesia on the two large and seven hundred small islands in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean.
People have not still fully settled in this blessed corner of unspoiled nature. And this is definitely its biggest happiness. There is no place like this in the world where lakes are so clean, beaches are magnificently pristine, mountain air is so pure, and greenery is that lush.
The history of New Zealand is not as ancient as that of other countries. And it is not calculated in millennia. The indigenous people were the first Polynesian Māori tribes that settled there in the 13th century.
The islands drew the attention of Europeans later. At first, it was Abel Tasman and his crew who landed there in the 17th century. But the welcome was not really warm - several people were killed at once during the rencounter with Aboriginal inhabitants.
The second wave of exploration began a hundred years later when James Cook arrived to peer around the archipelago. He was more successful because the Māori turned out to be quite peaceful. Thus, in a couple of years of his life there, Captain Cook managed to generate a map of the entire coast of future New Zealand.
It was only in the 19th century when those territories began to be occupied more.
British missionaries arrived often and brought not only the Bible but a lot of European diseases. As a result, indigenous people of the islands died out by half.
Those who remained were converted to Christianity and gradually got used to living in New South Wales - that was the very first name of the territory under the official protectorship of the British Crown.
Only in May 1841, New Zealand seceded from New South Wales and obtained its government and Parliament. A bit later, in 1865, the country got its main city - Wellington. Now the world’s southernmost capital city has a population of more than 400,000 residents.
Modern New Zealand includes two big islands split by Cook Strait - the North Island and the South Island - and more than 700 small islands that have retained the pristine nature to this day. A ferry from Wellington to Picton and back cruises on a regular basis.
New Zealand is one of the few countries without a terrestrial border - there are only maritime boundaries. The Tasman Sea to the west separates New Zealand from Australia. Several small island states are scattered to the north - New Caledonia, Tonga, and Fidji. New Caledonia is the closest - 1,450 km from New Zealand. The other neighbouring countries are more remote - the distance ranges from 1,700 km to 1,900 km. Thus, such a remoteness makes New Zealand one of the most isolated corners of the planet.
The climate in the country varies from warm and humid subtropical on the North Island to temperate on the South. The alpine climate is predominant in the mountains. Summer lasts from December to February - winter months typical for Europeans. Nonetheless, there are no rapid temperature changes between the seasons.
New Zealand has been a constitutional monarchy up to the present day, and all the laws have to be approved by Charles III. The country even has two anthems: the British “God Save The King” and its own “God Defend New Zealand”.
There are three official languages in New Zealand - English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language used predominantly by the deaf community.
The currency is the New Zealand Dollar with an exchange rate of 0.667 against USD. The economy of this island country is highly developed. The main industries are agriculture, food manufacturing, and tourism. The latter provides more than 10% of national income.
The cost of living here is very high, even higher than in the USA, though local residents earn less than the Americans.
New Zealand is a nuclear-free country with a perfect ecology. Nowhere else in the world so much effort is put into preserving the purity of nature as in this small Pacific country with a population of just 4.5 million people.
Getting to New Zealand is possible almost from all parts of the world. The most preferable way is to travel by plane. There are many available non-stop flights from the Americas, Australia, and Asia.
The most reliable airline company is Air New Zealand. There are also some other options like American Airlines or United Airlines for those who live in the North American continent.
Travellers from Europe may embark on their trip to Australia from London, Manchester, Frankfurt, Paris, and other cities. However, the flight will include a transfer.
To enter the country, foreign citizens should have a valid visa unless they are eligible for visa-free travelling. Moreover, while choosing the flight, it is necessary to check whether there will be refuelling in the Australian airports. In the event that the plane will need to top up, visitors may be required to have a valid Australian transit visa. Due to the ongoing pandemic, visiting New Zealand is largely restricted.
Pay attention that generally it is forbidden to bring food to the country while travelling. Livestock products, fruit, and vegetables are subject to special prohibition. That is why, if you want to treat your New Zealand friends with some delicacies, it will not work out: customs officers will confiscate the products. New Zealand is the second least corrupt country in the world after Denmark.
Year by year, New Zealand is becoming more and more popular as the place for having a holiday and for searching for a job. So tourists usually look for hotels, hostels, camping sites at beaches or mountain resorts while candidates for job vacancies try to go halfsies while renting out an apartment. This will enable them to save money while looking for a job.
Though accommodation in New Zealand is very expensive, the cost of rooms in hotels is cheap, particularly if to book a room during the European summer, which is not high season in the country.
Below are the options for budget hotels in different locations of New Zealand:
- Paradiso - BBH is a three-star hotel in Nelson, the sunniest city on the South Island. It is located close to National Parks and will be suitable for those who love spending holidays in mountains. There is a bathroom in each room as well as ironing facilities and air conditioning.
- Jucy Snooze Queenstown is a five-star hotel in Queenstown, a five-minute walk from the Kiwi Birdlife Park. All the rooms have bathrooms and air conditioning inside. The cost of breakfast is included in the cost of accommodation.
- Haka Lodge Taupo is a four-star hotel in Taupō, a ten-minute walk from Huka Falls. All the rooms have heating and bathrooms with showers. Most of them have a balcony too. There is also free parking and Wi-Fi.
- Absoloot Hostel QT is a three-star hotel on the seashore in Queenstown. The rooms are plain but clean with bathrooms, fresh bed linen, free tea and coffee, and air conditioning.
- Hanmer Springs Forest Camp is a plain hotel in Hanmer Springs, Canterbury, located not far from the thermal swimming pool and SPA. There is also a swimming pool on the premises. The rooms have everything needed for a good rest like comfortable beds, ironing and bathroom facilities, and air conditioning.
To rent out accommodation for a long-term stay in New Zealand, the best option is to book it via specialised websites like:
Important: while applying for a visa, open a bank account in one of the New Zealand banks - BNZ, KiwiBank, etc.
It will be a must to provide a bank statement in order to enter into the lease agreement with a landlord.
Places to See
Wild nature sceneries in New Zealand are so stunning that now and then the feelings of dreamlike irreality arouse. If you do not want to deal with tour guides or tour groups, hiring a campervan is a perfect idea.
The first must-see places are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- Te-Wahipounamu is a southwestern region of the South Island that includes four national parks - Mount Cook, Fiordland, Mount Aspiring, and Westland.
- Tongariro is a national park located on the North Island.
The tours to those national parks are conducted free of charge.
Those who visit New Zealand should definitely enjoy a walking tour across the Hobbiton Movie Set where The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies were set. Bright and bizarre houses, emerald green meadows, and fairy-tale atmosphere will be captured in one’s memory forever.
Indeed, in New Zealand, they have developed a real cult of Tolkien’s works and even have established the Ministry of the Rings.
It is a seaside town with the world’s biggest steampunk museum. The other attraction here is Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony inhabited by the smallest penguins.
The city is located on the shore of Lake Rotorua on the Northern Island. A little further, there is Tamaki Māori Village that welcomes tourists with the immersive Māori culture. Those places are considered to be the cultural cradle of Indigenous people of New Zealand. Local residents like posing for photos with tourists, and hold spectacular dancing shows to depict the most interesting things in the tribe’s lifestyle.
This absolutely surrealistic place, a 30-kilometre distance from Rotorua, is a geothermal park with lakes of fantastic colours that range from acid yellow to indigo.
The most visited place here is Champagne Pool with a maximum depth of 65 metres.
Though the name is very romantic and promising, swimming in the pool is not really possible because there is the risk of being browned in the boiling hot water. The surface heats up to 75°C. The association stems from the efflux of carbon dioxide into the water: the spring is bubbling like champagne in a glass.
The other spectacular localities will add to the overwhelming impressions conveyed by the beautiful places of Waiotapu. For example, Devil’s Ink Pots is an oil-surfaced spring. Oyster Pool is a sulfurous thermal area. Artist’s Palette is a colourful geothermal area where waters are sparkling with iridescent colours.
This is a unique place where the black sand of the beaches makes them look gloomy and even sinister. A stunning and unusual view!
It is the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand that emerged in the volcano caldera.
At present, it is the main source of fresh water in the country.
The tourists from all over the world have given recognition of those utterly beautiful places. Annually, more than a million people come to visit New Zealand.
The above-mentioned localities are only a few places worth seeing. The country is so magnificent that the list of all its attractions will make a voluminous tome.
Despite the Māori motifs, in general, the cuisine of New Zealand is Europe-oriented. People here eat everything easily available in any European restaurant or a cafe. For example, beef steaks, vegetable salads, fried and roasted fish, and seafood like shrimps and mussels. Even the national fruit - kiwi - has long been sold in any supermarket in the world.
Nonetheless, there are several distinctive dishes of New Zealand cuisine:
- Hāngi is a kind of stew cooked by Māori people in pit ovens. Vegetables and meat or fish get wrapped in foil and are put on the oven’s bottom where the dish will stew for not less than three hours.
- Kūmara is a locally grown sweet potato, which is usually cooked in the same way as an ordinary potato. It may be boiled, fried, baked, and mashed.
- Lemon & Paeroa is a cold drink that consists of two ingredients - lemon juice and mineral water. It is perfectly suitable for hot summer days.
Admiration is the most vivid impression left after the tour to New Zealand. Not only do people admire wild nature but also they are enthused with the love that local residents constantly devote to preserving that beauty.