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New Zealand General information

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New Zealand General information

New Zealand lies in the south west Pacific Ocean, nearly 2 000 kms from Australia, to the east, and 19 017 kms, or 11 790 miles from Paris, France. New Zealand is over 1.600 kilometres long, and its widest part is 450 kilometres. The total land area is around 270 550 square kilometres, with approximately 10 000 kilometres of coastline.

The capital city is Wellington, near the southern tip of the North Island, with a population of approximately 360 000 (although probably over this figure by now). Wellington's central geographical position was the major deciding factor in the transfer of the seat of government from Auckland, in 1865.

Auckland is the largest city with a population having just reached one million. Over 200 000 inhabitants of Auckland are from the Pacific islands, which makes Auckland the largest Polynesian city in the world.

The total population of New Zealand is 3.9 million, and is predicted to reach 4.6 million within the next 44 years. Māori make up about 15% of the population, and are the indigenous people of New Zealand. Most Māori live in the North Island areas of Northland, Auckland city, the Bay of Plenty and the Waikato.

Auckland is the largest city with a population having just reached one million. Over 200 000 inhabitants of Auckland are from the Pacific islands, which makes Auckland the largest Polynesian city in the world.

The total population of New Zealand is 3.9 million, and is predicted to reach 4.6 million within the next 44 years. Māori make up about 15% of the population, and are the indigenous people of New Zealand. Most Māori live in the North Island areas of Northland, Auckland city, the Bay of Plenty and the Waikato.

In the South Island the Māori population is increasing, and the Canterbury area contained nearly 6% of the Māori population in 1996.

New Zealand is part of the largely submerged continent of Zealandia, which stretches from the north of New Caledonia to the south of New Zealand's subantartic islands. 93% of Zealandia is underwater. For more information see "The New Zealand continent".

New Zealand is an island nation. The three main islands which make up New Zealand are the North Island, the South Island, and Stewart Island, but a number of smaller offshore islands are also included :

  • The Chatham Islands
  • The Kermadec Islands
  • Campbell Island
  • The Antipodes Islands
  • The Bounty Islands
  • The Auckland Islands
  • New Zealand also has part jurisdiction over the territories of Tokelau and the Ross Dependency, and is involved in Antartica.
  • Click here for a map (80k) showing New Zealand's geographical position.

    Approximately 23% of the country is forested, as compared with 80% originally. Most of the remaining forested areas are protected.

    New Zealand is a very mountainous country. Under a quarter of the land is less than 200 metres above sea level. It lies on a fault line which forms part of the Pacific "Rim of Fire", although there have been only two major volcanic eruptions in the relatively recent past. One was the huge eruption which resulted in the creation of Rangitoto Island in Waitemata Harbour (Auckland) about 600 years ago, and the second was the 10th June 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera.

    More recent minor eruptions occurred at Mount Ruapehu, when the mountain erupted in 1995 and then again in 1996. Small earthquakes are relatively common. A Richter magnitude shock of 6 or over occurs around once a year, but a shock of 7 or over occurs approximately only once in 10 years.

    Lake Taupo, situated in the Volcanic Plateau area of the North Island, fills a crater which had been formed by the world's largest known eruption. This happened in two sections, around 1 800 and 26 000 years ago. The volcanic dust which arose from the eruption, bringing with it changes in the skies, could be seen as far away as Rome and China.

    The North Island is mainly made up of coastal plains and small mountain ranges. The main volcanic mountains in the North Island are : Mount Tongariro (1 967 metres), Mount Ngaruahoe (2 287 metres), Mount Taranaki (or Egmont) (2 518 metres) and Mount Ruapehu, the largest, at (2 797 metres)

    In the South Island, it is the higher Southern Alps which run the length of the island. The Southern Alps count 360 glaciers, of which the largest are : the Tasman, Murchison, Mueller, Godley and the Hooker glaciers. These five are situated on the East coast of the South Island. On the West coast, the largest glaciers are the Fox and the Franz Josef glaciers.

    At least 223 named peaks in the Southern Alps are higher than 2.300 metres. Some of the highest mountains or peaks in the South Island are : Torres ( 3 163 metres) Teichelmann (3 160 metres) Sefton (3 157 metres) Malte Brun (3 155 metres) and Haast (3 138 metres).

    Mount Cook (or Aoraki, in Māori), in the South Island, is the highest mountain in New Zealand (3 754 metres). The largest lake is Lake Taupo, and the river with the greatest flow is the Clutha. The longest river in the North Island is the Waikato.

    N New Zealand has a maritime climate, affected by latitude and the proximity of the ocean. The country's mountain ranges, and in particular those of the South Island, create different climactic conditions between the North and the South Islands. The Southern Alps also form a climatic barrier between the east and west coasts of the South Island.

    The North Island has a generally more temperate climate, while winter conditions in certain areas of the South Island may drop to near arctic conditions. New Zealand's weather is inclined to be very changeable. A brisk rain shower will give way just as suddenly to sunny skies, or a bracing wind.

    In general the country experiences high rainfall, particularly in Winter. The East Coast of New Zealand is the driest area, while the West Coast of the South Island has one of the highest annual rainfalls in the world.

    January and February are the warmest months in New Zealand ; July and August are the coolest

     Agriculture is the principal economy of New Zealand. When Great Britain joined the EEC in 1973, New Zealand was forced to diversify into other fields such as horticulture, viticulture, forestry and fishing. A large trade market has been established with the Asian countries. In 1984 New Zealand lifted its agricultural subsidies, and has since become one of the least regulated markets.

    New Zealand has 13 times as many sheep as people (approximately 47.2 million sheep in the land - although possibly less than this figure by now)

    Since the air travel boom in the 70's, New Zealand has become easily accessible to overseas visitors, producing a change of lifestyle, mentality and culture. Communities of Polynesians, Italians, Dutch, French, Greek, North American, as well as the Asian countries of Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Cambodia, China and India, just to name a few, have introduced ethnic diversity to New Zealand.

    Most New Zealanders are of British descent, but many also are able to trace their descent from the Netherlands, France, Germany, Greece and Yugolsavia.

    Although New Zealand has no official religion, the Church of England (protestant) is the main church of New Zealand.

    Democracy

    New Zealand gained Dominion status in 1907, and total independence from Great Britain was later gained by the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act of 1947. In other words New Zealand remains a member of the British Commonwealth, but is an independent nation within this Commonwealth.

    The British Monarch, although the constitutional head of state, plays no active role in the running of New Zealand's government.

    A Governor-General, usually a New Zealander, represents the Queen by carrying out various responsibilities. These include summoning parliament for the appointing of Ministers, as well as carrying out ceremonial duties .A bill cannot be passed by parliament and become law until approved by the Governor General.

    Click here to visit the website of the Governor-General of New Zealand.

    Every New Zealander over the age of 18 years may vote. General elections take place every three years. The two main political parties in New Zealand are the Labour party and the National party, representing the centre left and the centre right respectively.

    Currency

    In 1967 decimal currency was introduced to New Zealand, and the first decimal coins commenced circulation on 10th July 1967. New Zealand's currency is the New Zealand dollar. Previous to 1967 New Zealand's currency had been the pounds, shilling and pence system used in the United Kingdom.

    A history of New Zealand coinage may be found on the Reserve Bank of New Zealand website.

    Information on New Zealand's economy may be found on The Treasury website.

     Airport transfers return to General Information page
    New Zealand has three major international airports: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch; and four secondary international airports. Shuttle buses and taxis meet all flights. City transfer details from each of these airports follow:

    • AUCKLAND (25km): A taxi costs approximately NZ$40 and takes about 30-40 mins. Shuttle costs are approximately NZ$18-nz$25 a single and can become cheaper depending on the number of people in your party and takes around 40 minutes. The bus fare is approximatey NZ$15 one way or NZ$25 return. Travel to the domestic airport is provided free and takes about 5 minutes;
    • WELLINGTON (8km): Taxi cost approximately NZ$15-NZ$20 and takes about 25 minutes. Shuttle approximately NZ$10 and takes about 25-30 minutes. Bus fare NZ$5 and takes about 45 minutes;
    • CHRISTCHURCH (11km): Taxi NZ$25-NZ$30 and takes about 25-30 minutes. Shuttle approximately NZ$15 and takes about 30 minutes. Bus fare approximately NZ$4 and takes about 35 minutes;
    • QUEENSTOWN (7km): Taxi approximately NZ$20 and takes about 15 minutes. Airport Shuttle approximately NZ$9 and takes about 15 minutes. Shoppers Shuttle approximately NZ$5 and takes about 20 minutes;
    • HAMILTON (15km): Taxi approximately NZ$30, Shuttle approximately NZ$15;;
    • PALMERSTON NORTH (6km): Taxi approximately NZ$12, Shuttle approximately NZ$6;
    • DUNEDIN (30km): Taxi approximately NZ$45, Shuttle  approximately NZ$25.

    Climate return to General Information page
    New Zealand enjoys a range of temperatures approximate to those experienced by Australia’s south eastern seaboard. Free from the influence of any close land mass, yearly temperature variations are small — approximately 10C variation between winter and summer.

    The north of the country tends to be sub-tropical and the south, temperate. Mountain ranges extend down much of the length of New Zealand, with the regions lying west of the ranges experiencing much higher rainfalls than those to the east. The drier eastern regions average over 2000 hours of sunshine a year and contain the main wine-growing areas and summer resorts.

    Snow is largely confined to the alpine areas of the central North Island and the Southern Alps, though it can fall to low levels in the deep south for a day or so at a time.

     

    Summer
    temperature

    Winter
    temperature

    Summer rain days
    per month

    Winter rain days
    per month

    Auckland

    16-24C

    9-15C

    8 days

    15 days

    Rotorua

    12-24C

    4-13C

    9 days

    13 days

    Mount Cook

    9-20C

    -1-8C

    12 days

    13 days

    Queenstown

    10-22C

    1-10C

    8 days

    7 days

    Wellington

    13-20C

    6-12C

    7 days

    13 days

    Nelson

    12-22C

    3-13C

    7 days

    10 days

    Christchurch

    12-22C

    3-12C

    7 days

    7 days

    Banking/currency return to General Information page
    No restrictions apply on the amount of foreign currency that can be taken in or out of New Zealand. All major credit cards may be used for the purchase of goods and services, and travellers’ cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores.

    Banks are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, except public holidays.

    Provided they are encoded with a PIN number, international credit cards may be used to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines (ATMs), widely available in the main shopping centres and suburban malls. Check with your bank before leaving home whether this facility is available to you. 

    Customs and immigration return to General Information page
    ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: For information on passports, visas etc. please contact the New Zealand Immigration Serviceᅠ in New Zealand, or in Sydney phone (02)9247 1511 or fax (02)9247 1752

      DUTY FREE GOODS: Visitors to New Zealand may purchase duty-free goods, which are not subject to local taxes, from airport duty-free shops on arrival and departure. Duty-free stores in downtown Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will deliver purchases to aircraft departure lounges.

    Apart from your own personal effects, and as long as you are over 17 years of age, you are allowed the following duty-free concessions.

      • 200 cigarettes, or 250 grams of tobacco or 50 cigars, or a mixture of all three not weighing more than 250 grams.
      • 4.5 litres of wine or beer (six 750m1 bottles) and one 1125 ml bottle of spirits or liqueur or other beverages.
      • Goods up to a total of NZ$700 are free of duty and tax, but goods in excess of this may attract both duty and taxi.

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