One of the most beautiful destinations in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand boasts incredible scenery, welcoming locals, intriguing attractions and lots more. Known as Aotearoa in Maori, this island nation is comprised of the North and South Islands, along with a number other small islands.
Polynesian settlers were the first people to arrive in New Zealand, which was actually one of the last major landmasses in the world to be settled by people. They developed the indigenous Maori culture which has seen a major resurgence in recent years. The first Europeans arrived in 1642 lead by a Dutch explorer called Abel Tasman; however, European’s didn’t really start arriving until after 1769 when James Cook travelled around the islands. A former colony of the British Empire, New Zealand is now part of the Commonwealth.
Wellington is the capital, while Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city. In total, the country has a population of approximately 4.4 million people. However, as New Zealand is a large country this population of ‘Kiwis’, as the people of New Zealand are known, is quite dispersed.
New Zealand’s breathtaking landscape includes numerous awesome features including glaciers, huge mountain ranges, volcanic plateaus, fjords and more. Boasting around 15,000 km of coastline, it’s no surprise that New Zealand is also home to a great selection of beautiful sandy beaches. Locals and visitors like to get out and about in these gorgeous surroundings, and outdoor activities are very popular throughout the country. These range from things like walking and fishing to more extreme adventure sports like bungee jumping and skydiving.
Home to a wide variety of unique plants and animals, New Zealand is a haven for nature lovers who come to spot the flightless kiwi bird, go whale watching and see more penguin species than in any other country.
Sport is another important part of life in New Zealand. Rugby, cricket and netball are just some of the country’s most popular sports. This year, the focus will definitely be on rugby as New Zealand is hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
On a visit to this beautiful country you’ll be spoiled for choice. If you’re looking to escape into the outdoors or if you’d prefer to spend your time experiencing city culture, you’ll find a huge variety of attractions in New Zealand.