Information on New Zealand
New Zealand is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean consisting of 2 main islands, both marked by volcanoes and glaciation. Capital Wellington, on the North Island, is home to Te Papa Tongarewa, the expansive national museum. Wellington’s dramatic Mt. Victoria, along with the South Island’s Fiordland and Southern Lakes, stood in for mythical Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” films.
New Zealand (or Aotearoa – land of the long white cloud), truly is one of the most picturesque and photogenic places on earth. A small island nation of just over 4.5 million people, New Zealand is made up of two major land masses (North Island and South Island) and a number of smaller islands including Stewart Island located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The two main islands are divided by a 22km stretch of water called the Cook Strait.
New Zealand is located approximately 1,500km east of Australia and about 1,000km from the Pacific Islands. Due to its relative remoteness and being water locked, New Zealand was one of the last countries to be found and settled.
The country is made up of some of the worlds most spectacular landscapes, from vast mountain ranges, steaming volcanoes to sweeping coastlines. It is a natural playground for thrill seekers and adventurers and those who simply want to visit for the culture and landscapes.
Introduction to New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (commonly called the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous Māori named New Zealand Aotearoa, commonly translated as The Land of the Long White Cloud.
New Zealand is a developed country that ranks highly in international comparisons on human development, quality of life, life expectancy, literacy, public education, peace, prosperity, economic freedom, ease of doing business, lack of corruption, press freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Its cities also consistently rank among the world’s most liveable.
Similar in size to Japan or the British Isles, New Zealand occupies a land area of some 270,500 square kilometres. Cook Strait separates the North and South Islands. Three quarters of the population lives in the North Island. New Zealand has three official languages: Māori, English and New Zealand Sign Language. English is the most commonly spoken language.
New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation: it is situated about 2000 km (1250 miles) southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. During its long isolation New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, a number of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and the mammals they introduced.
The population of New Zealand is mostly of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority. Asians and non-Māori Polynesians are also significant minority groups, especially in urban areas. The most commonly spoken language is English.
Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the country’s head of state and is represented by a ceremonial Governor-General who holds reserve powers. The Queen has no real political influence, and her position is essentially symbolic. Political power is held by the democratically elected Parliament of New Zealand under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who is the head of government.
Mountain ranges and country dominate New Zealand’s landscape; one of the most striking physical features is the Southern Alps. To add to the variety of the South Island scenery, there are fiords, glaciers and lakes, and the coastal plains of Canterbury and Southland. In the North Island is New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo. The country’s most active volcanoes, Ruapehu, Ngaurahoe, Tongariro and Taranaki, are also found in the central North Island. These are usually quiet, although Mount Ruapehu erupted in 1995 and 1996. Hot springs, geysers and mud pools are found in Taupo and Rotorua.
There are spectacular mountainous regions for some of the best skiing in the world, miles of coastlines with incredible beaches for surfing and swimming, and tramping trails throughout the country.
You can explore the following websites for more information on New Zealand:
Photos of New Zealand:
New Zealand’s climate is almost subtropical in the north but temperate and cool further south.
The warmest months are January and February, the coldest July and August.
Auckland has a subtropical climate (12 to 20 degrees) compared to Wellington’s mild climate, not too cold in winter and not too hot in summer. The average monthly temperatures are in the range of 9 to 17 degrees centigrade. It is often sunny with more than 2000 hours per year, an average of nearly 6 hours of sunshine a day. Rainfall is usually higher in the winter months. Although there is often much winter snow on the mountains, snow is very rare in residential areas.
Most New Zealand homes do not have central heating so you will need to bring some warmer clothes to wear at home. When you pack clothes for New Zealand remember two important things. First, the weather is changeable (that is, pack a raincoat and warm outdoor clothing). Second, the lifestyle is casual.
According to Māori legend, Kupe, the great Polynesian navigator came to the South Pacific around 1200 years ago. His first sight was not of the land itself but of a long white cloud that hovered above it, and so he named it Aotearoa, which in Māori means the Land of the Long White Cloud. The country was later called New Zealand.
Today New Zealand is proud of its identity as a Pacific nation, based on a partnership between Pakeha, as New Zealanders of European origin are called, and Māori. At the heart of that partnership is the Treaty of Waitangi, an agreement that lives on as a national symbol for unity and understanding between cultures.
In fact, the main campus and the name Whitireia has been donated by the local tribe, Ngāti Toa. Whitireia means first light and is named after the local mountain that can be clearly seen from the campus.
By world standards, New Zealand is lightly populated at 4.25 million people. Eighty percent of the people are of European ancestry – mostly from Britain, but also from Holland, Germany, the former Yugoslavia, Greece and other nations. Many Chinese and Indians have also lived in New Zealand for generations. One in seven New Zealanders is Māori. New Zealand is an English-speaking nation and part of the British Commonwealth, therefore all New Zealanders speak English, but Māori is recognised as an official language and is becoming more widely spoken.
With fresh air, a clean environment, friendly people and everything from large metropolitan areas to small rural towns, international students find New Zealand a great place to live.
New Zealand is a Constitutional Monarchy under the Queen of England. Queen Elizabeth II is represented by the Governor-General who can summon or dissolve Parliament, and must give agreement (assent) to all laws (legislation). In practice, New Zealand is an independent state within the Commonwealth and is governed by Parliament. New Zealand has a mixed member proportional (MMP) Parliament of 120 seats, comprising 67 electorate representatives and 53 party list members.