New Zealand Travel Guide

New Zealand Travel Guide

New Zealand is a small island country located in the South Pacific Ocean (and a close neighbor to Australia). The Maori people have the longest history in the country and are of Polynesian descent. According to Maori legend, the country was discovered over 1,000 years ago by Kupe, a great Maori navigator. Kupe sailed from a place known as Hawaiki, believed to be Tahiti, to “Aotearoa” (Land of the Long White Cloud) known today as New Zealand.

Today, New Zealanders are primarily of British descent. The government of New Zealand is a parliamentary democracy, and the country is a member of the British Commonwealth. The head of state is Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the resident Governor-General.

Though New Zealand is a small country, it is full of surprises. You will be impressed by the natural, unspoiled countryside, which has a relatively small population. Some of the most spectacular scenery in the world is found there. New Zealand has sparkling lakes, deep fjords, beautiful beaches, forests, rolling pasturelands and many mountains with icy peaks as well as thermal activity.

New Zealand is an exciting place to visit, with numerous activities you can enjoy–bicycle, bungy jump, ski, dive or fish. These activities and more are perfectly suited to this land of natural beauty and adventure.


Most New Zealanders are of British descent; the largest minority is Maori. The Maoris, originally from Polynesia, were the first immigrants to this land. In the past, the British descendants and the Maoris fought bitterly for possession of land. Today the former British and the Maori live in relative harmony although there are still some disputes over land rights.

New Zealanders refer to themselves as “kiwi,” the nickname used to decribe New Zealanders. A kiwi is a flightless bird, and it is the national symbol of the country.

Visiting New Zealand will give you an opportunity to learn about the nation’s history and view Maori culture firsthand. Displays at various historical sites and locations reflect the Maori people’s proud and interesting heritage.

Ethnic Groups: 88% European, 8.9% Maori, 2.9% Pacific Islander and 0.2% other.

Languages: English is the main language; Maori is also spoken.

Religion: 24% Anglican,18% Presbyterian, 15% Roman Catholic, 5% Methodist, 2% Baptist and 12% other.


New Zealanders are friendly people, so don’t be surprised if the locals display a great interest in you.

When meeting people, shake hands.

When invited to someone’s home for dinner, take a bottle of wine and perhaps flowers.

The traditional Maori greeting is nose to nose.


Major Industries: Wool, meat dairy products, crops, food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transportation equipment, banking/finance, tourism and mining.

Exports: Wool, meat, fruit, fish, dairy products, forestry products and chemicals.

Imports: Consumer goods, motor vehicles, industrial equipment and petroleum.

Things to see

Bay of Islands
150 miles (240km) north of Auckland there are about 150 islands. This is a very pretty area to visit.
Begin at the main visitor center in Paihia.
Marsden Road
Paihia, North Island
. (09) 4027426

Treaty House, Waitangi
Sight of the signing of “The Treaty of Waitangi,” where the Maori chiefs and British representatives signed a document declaring New Zealand to be a British colony. Take a look at the war canoe and the Maori Meeting House.
Marsden Road
Paihia, North Island
Visitors information: . (09) 4027426

This is a tourist town famous for thermal activity and Maori culture. Walk around the general area. You will discover springs, mineral baths and many other sights. Contact the tourist center for details on the best areas to visit.
Begin at the Visitors Information Network office:
67 Fenton Street
Rotorua, North Island
. (07) 3485179

Hawke’s Bay
One of New Zealand’s premier wine-growing regions. Visit the wineries. Don’t miss Napier’s Art Deco buildings.
Begin at the tourist center:
Marine Parade, Napier
Hawke’s Bay, North Island
. (06) 8357579

The village of Kaikoura, once a whaling station, is now a prime location for viewing sperm whales, dolphins and seals. The village lies between Christchurch and Picton on Highway 1.
The Esplanade
Kaikoura, South Island
Kaikoura information center: . (03) 3195641

Kelley Tarlton’s Underwater World
Step on to the moving walkway as it takes you through this glass-tunneled aquarium.
Tamaki Drive
Orakei Wharf, Mission Bay
Auckland, North Island
. (09) 5280603

Mount Cook
The tallest mountain in the Alps, Mt. Cook is called “Aorangi” (meaning the cloud piercer) by the Maoris. This spectacular mountain can be viewed by flightseeing. Some services offer a stop on the mountain.
Mt Cook National Park
South Island
Visitors Information Network office:
Bowen Drive: . (03) 4351818

Milford Sound
A deep valley carved out by glaciers, then flooded by the sea when the glaciers melted. Mountains rise from the water. The floor of the fjord drops below 1,000 feet (305meters) in some areas.
Fiorland National Park, South Island
Visitors Information Network, Fiordland Travel
Te Anau Tce
Te Anau
. (03) 2497419

Waitomo Caves
Within this network of limestone caves is the Gloworm Cave. Take a boat through this cave enveloped in darkness and see the gloworms lighting up around you like stars in the night sky.
Waitomo, North Island
Visitors Information Network office:
Main Street: . (07) 8787640


Mt Cook National Park
Attracts visitors for its sheer beauty as well as sports such as skiing, hiking and climbing. Mt Cook is within the park and there are 21 other peaks over 10,000 feet.
Mt Cook, South Island
Visitors Information Network Office:
Bowen Drive: . (03) 4351818
Visitor Center:
Mount Cook Village: . (03) 4351819

Tongariro National Park
The first of New Zealand’s National Parks, Tongariro features three volcanoes: Mt. Tongariro, Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Puapehu (the highest mountain in the North Island).
Whakapapa, North Island
Whakapapa Visitors Center-Mount Ruapehu: . (07) 8923729
Ohakune Visitor Center-Mountain Road, Ohakune: . (06) 3858578
Department of Conservation Visitors Center, Ngawaka Place, Turangi: . (07) 3868607

Westland National Park
Covering 220,000 acres (89,100 hectares), this park has two major tourist attractions: Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. It is surprising to find rain forests alongside glaciers in the park. The two main tourist areas for the park are at the towns of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, South Island:
Visitors Center, Main Road, Franz Josef: . (03) 7520796
Visitors Center, Main Road, Fox Glacier: . (03) 7510807


National Museum
Different galleries throughout feature exhibits on New Zealand’s history and culture.
Buckle Street
Wellington, North Island
Visitors Information Network office:
Civic Center
Corner Wakefield and Victoria Streets
. (04) 8014000

National Art Gallery
Housed within the same building as the museum, this gallery features paintings by New Zealand as well as European artists.
Buckle Street
Wellington, North Island
Visitors Information Network Office:
Civic Center
Corner Wakefield and Victoria Streets
. (04) 8014000

Auckland City Art Gallery
One of New Zealand’s premier art collections
Wellesley Street East
Auckland, North Island
. (09) 3792020

Auckland Museum
Displays New Zealand’s natural history. Has a noted collection of Maori exhibits.
Located in the Domain
. (09) 3090443

Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)
Collection of machinery and transportation equipment, a fascinating museum to visit.
Great North Road, Western Springs
Auckland, North Island
. (09) 8460199

Things to Know


The official currency is the New Zealand dollar NZ$, which is based on the decimal system.

Notes are available in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

Coins are 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and $1 and $2.


Population: 3,000,000
Capital: Wellington

Flag: Blue background, with a Union Jack in the upper lefthand corner. On the right of the flag are four stars (red edged in white) that represent the Southern Cross constellation.

Shop Hours: Shops are generally open from 9am to 5:30pm Monday through Friday and 10am to 1pm on Saturdays. In cities, some major stores remain open until 9pm on Fridays. In tourist areas, some stores stay open on Sundays.

Bank Hours: Banks are open from 9:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday.

January 1 – New Year’s Day
February 6 – Waitangi Day
April – Good Friday and Easter Monday
April 25 – Anzac Day
First Monday on June – Queen’s Birthday
Fourth Monday on October – Labour Day
December 25 – Christmas Day
December 26 – Boxing Day

Time: New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. The country is also very close to the International Date Line, so generally, New Zealand is one day ahead of the U.S. To be more exact, if it were 12 noon on Sunday in New Zealand, it would be 4pm on Saturday in Los Angeles, 6pm in Chicago and 7pm in New York City.

Tipping is not expected in New Zealand. It is up to you to tip for exceptional service. In higher-class restaurants, you may want to tip 10-15%.

In New Zealand there is a GST, or Goods and Service Tax, of 12.5% added to most purchases. The GST is usually included in the quoted price.


Hello – Kia ora
Goodbye – Hei kona
Please – Tena koa
I am visiting from the USA – I haere mai au i Amerika.
Welcome – Haere mai
Farewell – Haere ra
Wind – Hau
Night – Po
Water – Wai
House – Whare

Hello, Welcome – G’day
Australian – Aussie
Beautiful – Beaut
Cookies – Biscuits
Man – Bloke
Umbrella- Brolly
Parking lot – Carpark
Toilet – Cloakroom
Ill – Crook
Garbage – Rubbish
Gasoline – Petrol
Food – Tucker
Small – Wee


The seasons in New Zealand are reversed from those in the U.S. Summer lasts from December through February, and winter is from June through August.

Generally, in winter, snow falls in the higher mountain ranges and the Southern Alps (there is good skiing in that region). The wettest areas are along the western coastline (weather patterns originating in the Tasman Sea). The east tends to be the hotter and dryer side of the country. The northern part of the North Island has a subtropical climate and is warmer than the South Island.

The average daily maximum for Auckland is 74ºF (23ºC) in January and 56ºF (13ºC) in July.


Square Miles: 104,000 square miles (268,

Borders: None

Coastline: 9,398 miles (15,134km)

Terrain: New Zealand, roughly the same size as California, is generally a mountainous country with very high peaks, some coastal plains, rainforests, lakes and many small islands off the coast. There are beautiful beaches, volcanoes and thermal activity in some regions such as the famous town of Rotarua.

Within the country is exotic birdlife and unique fauna. There are twelve national parks and two World Heritage sights: Westland, Fiordland, Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring National Parks; and Tongariro National Park.

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