According to Maori legend, the God Pourangahua flew from his legendary dwelling place of Hawaiki to New Zealand, seated on a magic bird.
New Zealand is an adventurer's delight, from the native kauri forests and white sandy bays of the North Island to the majestic fiords and alps of the South Island. A volcanic, mountainous land, it is made up of two large islands, the 'North' and 'South' and Stewart Island tucked away deep in the South Pacific. An unspoilt paradise of fabulous contrasts, New Zealand is the only holiday destination where you can walk on an active volcano, surrounded by hissing fumaroles and spitting mud pools; stroll through ice caves past huge fissures on a glacier, fish at the 'trout factories' as the lakes and rivers are commonly called and go black-water rafting through underground caves riddled with glow worms. Visiting New Zealand for the holidays? Make sure to take advantage of great travel deals with Expedia!
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CAPITAL AND MAJOR CENTRES
Auckland, known as the City of Sails, is the hub of the North Island and the largest city in New Zealand with more than one million residents. It's a busy cosmopolitan metropolis built on either side of a sparkling harbour and is the largest Polynesian city in the world. The city offers plenty of shopping, dining, sightseeing and sailing. It's also the gateway to the tourist centres of the Coromandel, Rotorua and Lake Taupo to the south and Bay of Islands to the north.
Wellington, the capital, is located on the southern tip of the North Island and is a picturesque city built on hills, circling a spectacular harbour lined with fashionable wharf restaurants and bars. Old style buildings comfortably rub shoulders with modern architecture such as the beehive-shaped parliament house.
Christchurch on the South Island has beautiful old solid buildings, wide thoroughfares, lots of pavement dining and people-watching opportunities on sunny days. Located on the Avon River it has a decidedly English atmosphere. You can wander through the bountiful botanical gardens, dine in the Gothic surroundings of the former Christchurch University, or climb Port Hills for a view of the Southern Alps and the turquoise waters of Lyttelton Harbour.
Dunedin, because of its Scottish heritage, has many fine old stone buildings and a statue of the famous poet Robbie Burns in the centre of town.
New Zealand has three international airports - Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Click on the above for a more detailed map.
Of the 3.9 million population, there are approximately 280,000 Maoris of Polynesian origin, however, the majority of the population are of European descent. English and Maori are the official languages.
The Maoris have lived in New Zealand for more than one thousand years. It is believed that they came in migratory ways from the Pacific Islands. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 by Maori chiefs and representatives of the British crown, making the country a British colony. Today New Zealand is self governing.
In the Bay of Islands you can find what many fishermen believe are the largest specimens of striped marlin in the world. You can also go on tours which promise you a swim with schools of dolphins or a leisurely sail around the many tiny islands in the tall ship.
In Northland, Kauri forests are some of the few remaining stands of giant native kauri trees. The biggest is Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) which stands nearly 52 metres tall and is over 200 years old.
The Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre near Masterton, has rare and endangered birds and other species including the kiwi, New Zealand's unofficial national symbol. Giant wetas, one of the world's heaviest insects, native bats, and the takahe, a bird thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the 1950s.
In Auckland there are parks, rose gardens and wild life sanctuaries alongside all the attractions of a big city to while away many pleasant hours, or you can make a day trip to one of the beautiful relaxed inner islands of the Hauraki Golf accessible by ferries and catamarans.
Rotorua is a famous thermal city and resort. There are safe walkways through the main thermal areas, bathing grottos to sit in of varying temperatures and you can visit Mount Tarawera which erupted in 1886 and now has a massive crater.
Lake Taupo framed by snowcapped peaks, is a resort of breathtaking beauty, renowned for its rainbow trout fishing. There are lots of water sports and boats for hire and a bustling tourist-friendly town offers a range of tours and comfortable accommodation.
Queenstown, at the foot of the Remarkables Range is where you can jetboat ride, go white water rafting or try tandem parachuting. This town is also the capital of bungy jumping and a very popular ski resort in winter.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation in New Zealand is many and varied ranging from international standard hotels and exclusive private lodges to motels, hostels, homestay and farmstay, camping grounds and cabins.
Touring is easy with the option of hire cars and motor homes for self drive options, and tour buses. There are also guided tours or regular scheduled bus, train and ferry services in and between main towns with discounted passes available or combined travel.
FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT
New Zealand is a major producer of lamb, venison and beef, with fruit and vegetables in abundance. The seas yield a variety of fish, rock lobsters, oysters and scallops. There are excellent restaurants which offer a wide range of international cuisine including Polynesian influenced foods. Attending a traditional hangi (Maori feast cooked in-ground) is a special treat. Cafes, bars, discos and night life can be found in all the major cities and larger towns.
Activities include fishing, golfing, windsurfing, sailing, water skiing, snow skiing, hunting and snowboarding. Indeed, climbers and hikers come from all parts of the world to enjoy the unlimited scope for recreation in the magnificent unspoilt wilderness areas and national parks. For the more adventurous there are scenic flights, luge riding, tandem parachuting, white and black water rafting, jetboating, horse riding and 4WD volcanic safaris.
Many imports carry very little or no tariff, so goods are cheaper here than in other countries. Sheep skins, abalone shells, and New Zealand jade are popular local purchases. Traditional crafts such as pottery, glass blowing, hand knitting and carving are made within both the European and Maori culture and communes of crafts people sell their wares at local stalls and craft shops. Look for traditional Maori carving in wood, bone and greenstone and jewellery made from abalone shell, bone, ceramics, silver and greenstone.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
North - sub tropical with temperate winters. South - winter snows and temperate summer months.
|CLOTHING||Casual even in the best hotels and nightclubs.|
|ELECTRICITY||230 volts, 50 hertz. 110 volts available in most hotels and motels.|
|TIME ZONE||AEST plus 2 hours. Daylight saving from October to late March.|
|CURRENCY||New Zealand dollars. Credit cards are widely accepted.|
|VISAS AND HEALTH||
Airport tax of NZ$20 from Auckland and Wellington and NZ$25 from Christchurch. No vaccination certificate required. Visas may be needed by some countries.
Fifteen international airlines offer services to North America, Asia, Europe and the Pacific Islands. Air New Zealand and Ansett Air New Zealand operate domestic flight.
For more information contact:
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