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General Information

New Zealand's spectacularly beautiful landscape includes vast mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, sweeping coastlines, deeply indented fiords and lush rainforests.

Comparable in size and/or shape to Great Britain, Colorado or Japan, New Zealand has a population of only 4 million - making it one of the world's least crowded countries. It is a haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation as well as a playground for thrill seekers and adventurers. A temperate climate with relatively small seasonal variation makes it an ideal year-round holiday destination.

New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world. No shots are required to come to New Zealand and none are currently recommended by the World Heath Organization.


New Zealand has a unique and dynamic culture. The culture of its indigenous Maori people affects the language, the arts, and even the accents of all New Zealanders. Their place in the South Pacific, and their love of the outdoors, sport, and the arts make New Zealanders and their culture unique in the world.

Maori Culture

The Maori people are the indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and first arrived here in waka hourua (voyaging canoes) from their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki over 1000 years ago. Today, Maori make up over 14 percent of the population. Their language and culture has a major impact on all facets of New Zealand life.

Maori culture is a rich and varied one, and includes traditional and contemporary arts. Traditional arts such as carving, weaving, kapa haka (group performance), whaikorero (oratory) and moko (tattoo) are practised throughout the country. Practitioners following in the footsteps of their tipuna (ancestors) replicate the techniques used hundreds of years ago, yet also develop exciting new techniques and forms. Today Maori culture also includes art, film, television, poetry, theatre, and hip-hop.

The People

Today, New Zealanders are largely sophisticated and highly educated urban dwellers. Members of a unique and vibrant multicultural society, New Zealanders are embracing 21st century technology and culture in record numbers. But New Zealanders also have a background of quiet but rugged individualism, self-reliance, and a genius for invention - qualities still evident in the population today.

New Zealand has a diverse population - but with some uniting features that make it unique in the world. Our relatively isolated South Pacific location and rugged landscapes still makes many New Zealanders quiet and independent, yet resourceful and self-reliant, with a famous 'Kiwi ingenuity'.


Seasons In New Zealand

(in the Southern Hemisphere)

Summer: December-February     Autumn: March-May
Winter: June-August     Spring: September-November

Weather, Climate and Temperatures in New Zealand

The climatic conditions are quite different depending on season and region. In the New Zealand Summer from December to February the warmest areas are the northern and eastern part of the North Island and the coolest areas can be found in the south of the Southern Island .

Average temperatures in the summer are between 19 and 23 oC. In the winter months (June to August) the coolest areas are inland Canterbury and Central Otago whereas it is warmer at the northern part of the North Island . Average temperatures are between 10 and 14 oC.

Generally, it is always a bit cooler in the South Island . The Southern Alps function as a weather barrier down at the South Island , leading to a wetter climate on its western side and a dry climate on the eastern side of the mountains. In winter you will find snow in the Alps region and in a few other places too. In the North Island the western part is also wetter than the eastern part.

Due to the overall temperate maritime climate the weather can change easily from one minute to the next. This means that as a traveler you should always be prepared for rain and wind. So always pack a rain coat / waterproof jacket and an additional jumper and a woolen hat when walking in the bush or elsewhere.


New Zealand is almost 20% bigger than the UK but has a smaller population than Scotland . New Zealand is 7% bigger than Oregon , three times bigger than Portugal and one half the size of France . As of the 7th of March 2006 New Zealands Population was 4,116,900 and counting

Time Zone

New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT, so it is the first country to greet the dawn of each new day. New Zealand 's Chatham Islands , several hundred kilometers east of the South Island , are the first part of the country to be bathed in sunlight each morning.


As of 1st of July 2007 Petrol is about $1.79(NZ) per litre. Petrol prices tend to go up often and down rarely!

Banks and Money

There is an abundance of AutomaticTeller Machines (A.T.M's) in New Zealand . This includes EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer - Point of Sale). You can purchase goods with your card and a PIN number and/or obtain cash. Many. All international credit cards are accepted in NZ including bank deposit, America Express, Mastercard, Cirrus cards and Bankcard. Diners cards are accepted in larger places only. Traveler's cheques can be changed in banks, hotels and some stores. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency which may be brought into or taken from New Zealand .


In an age of genetic engineering let's hope they don't make sheep too smart, they out number New Zealanders by 10 - 1.


Tipping is not expected in New Zealand , but is not unwelcome. Employed people don't depend on tips for their income and service charges are not [usually] added to hotel and restaurant bills. Tip for service if you think it is deserved, but don't be surprised by the response.


New Zealand has a very well developed network of Cyber cafes and budget communication centers with a wide range of ways to get wired. Most popular are Hotmail, Yahoo and other free email accounts. The costs for getting online range from free to $6 for 15 minutes.
If you are considering traveling around New Zealand with your laptop and want to hook in to the Net then things can get a little tricky. There are several national ISP's like or or with a variety of competing offers.

Telephone info

Telecom NZ is the major supplier of residential phone lines, Saturn being a new comer that offers local lines in the Wellington area only. The Telecom white and yellow pages are available online at: and

Clear Communications, and Saturn competes with Telecom on toll call market, business lines and the Internet. The cellular network is an analogue/digital hybrid system. Most NZ telephone systems can handle DTMF tone dialing. NZ pulse dialing is the reverse of most countries.

Vodaphone is the only supplier of GSM Digital cellphone within NZ. You can buy a sim card here and operate your phone as "prepaid". This will cost you NZ$59 ( as of 10/01/00) It gives you a connection, a phone number and $40 worth of calling time with peak charges at $1.39 a minute and off peak $0.49 a minute. Extra time can be purchased in values of $20 and upwards. These are available all over the country, in shops, supermarkets and gas stations. Wall plugs are similar to British Telecom style and uses the BT 600 plug. This is the same as the RJ-11 plug BUT they have different wiring. Connector pins are pins 2 and 5 for the BT 600 plug and this is what you need in NZ ( for the RJ-11 they are 3 & 4 )

Telephone General Codes (From within New Zealand)

Northland / Auckland

Waikato / Bay of Plenty

Gisborne / Hawkes Bay / Taranaki / Wairarapa / Manawatu

Wellington / Kapiti

South Island / Stewart Island







Most import duties have been abolished, and instead we have a flat 15% goods and services tax - GST. Beware of some advertised prices which exclude this. Most shops and restaurants quote prices including GST. This means that imported goods (electrical appliances, clothing etc.) are pretty reasonably priced.


The normal electricity supply is 230 volts 50 hertz alternating current (AC). Most hotels will have shaver plugs suitable for all international appliances of low power rating, and which will supply 110 and 230 volts. These plugs may be for shavers only. If in doubt, ask.


Banks are open 9:00am to 4:30pm - but this can vary slightly. Businesses, shops and offices are generally open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm . Most shops are open Saturday morning and in popular visitor towns ( e.g. Rotorua, Queenstown ) they are open 7 days. Late night for shopping is either Thursday or Friday.

Currency conversion

Click here for currency conversion

Accommodation pricing

Accommodation prices vary form as low as $20.00 NZD for Back Packer Accommodation to upwards of $4000 NZD($US 600) per night for two people at the some of the most exclusive lodges and country estates New Zealand has to offer. Hotels average around $150 - $300 NZD per night with bed and breakfasts around the same mark. Motel accommodation is usually a bit cheeper that this averaging around $100 NZD per night. There are a great many superb hotels, resorts, and boutique properties available within this broad range. Talk to one of our consultants today to find out which options will best suit you.


10% of New Zealand 's economy, as measured by GDP, is dependent on tourism. Tourism supports more than 10% of New Zealand jobs.

A Sporting Nation

According to SPARC, the most popular sports in New Zealand, measured by club memberships, are as follows:

>> Golf: 128,860
>> Netball: 120,440
>> Soccer: 105,023
>> Rugby Union: 98,543
>> Cricket 87,100

Our national sport is undoubtedly Rugby though. (Go All Blacks)

Driving with an international Drivers Licence

If you do have a current overseas driver licence or international driving permit , you can drive using that for a maximum of 12 months from the date you arrive in New Zealand. (You can only drive the types of vehicle covered by your overseas driver licence or international driving permit.)

Each time you visit New Zealand, you can drive for a further 12-month period on a valid overseas licence or international driving permit, as long as you stay for no more than a year at a time.

Driving Times Between Major City's

From Auckland to:

Christchurch:14hrs 20mins plus ferry crossing* from Wellington to Picton
Hamilton: 1hr 55mins
Wellington: 9hrs 20mins
Napier: 6hrs 30mins
Tauranga: 3hrs 20mins
Whangarei: 3hrs

From Christchurch to:

Auckland: 14hrs 20mins plus ferry crossing* from Picton to Wellington
Blenheim: 4hrs 35mins
Dunedin: 5hrs
Nelson: 6hrs 20mins
Picton: 5hrs
Queenstown: 7hrs 15mins
Wellington: 5hrs plus ferry crossing* from Picton to Wellington

From Wellington to:

Auckland: 9hrs 20mins
Christchurch: 5hrs plus ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton*
Hamilton: 7hr 20mins
Napier: 5hrs 10mins
Tauranga: 7hrs 35mins
Whangarei: 12hrs 15mins

Ferry Sailing Time

* Ferry crossing time is normally 3hrs


2001 Census figures indicate that New Zealanders' ethnicity is:

European: 80%
Maori: 14%
Asian: 7%
Pacific Islander: 6%

Some people belong to more than one ethnic group so the numbers add up to more than 100%.

Two thirds of New Zealand 's Asians and two thirds of New Zealand 's Pacific Islanders live in the Auckland region.

If you are interested in obtaining information about New Zealand Immigration Services. Please use the following link New Zealand Immigration

Recommended New Zealand movies/videos to watch

New Zealand has featured in several big budget movie productions. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Lord of the Rings trilogy which was filmed entirely in New Zealand . Many of our tours travel through areas that doubled as Middle Earth during the production of the three films.

Here is a list of New Zealand Films well worth watching

  • Eco-Challenge 2001
  • Vertical Limit
  • The Piano
  • An Angel at My Table
  • Heavenly Creatures
  • The Frighteners
  • Jurassic Park 2
  • The Lost World
  • Xena the Warrior Princess (TV series)
  • Hercules (TV series)
  • Midnight Run
  • Once Were Warriors
  • Walking with Dinosaurs (TV series)
  • Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Whale Rider
  • King Kong
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Two Cars One Night

Interesting New Zealand Facts

For a country of 4 million people, New Zealand has had its fair share of influence on the planet
Here are just a few examples:

  • New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote (1893).
  • A New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary, was the first person to climb Mount Everest (with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953).
  • Baron Ernest Rutherford, a New Zealander, was the first person in the world to split the atom (in 1919). Rutherford also succeeded in transmitting and detecting 'wireless waves' a year before Marconi, but left this work to pursue researching radioactivity and the structure of the atom at Trinity College in Cambridge, England. Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work
  • It was probably a New Zealander, Richard William Pearse who took the world's first flight -nearly two years before the Wright Brothers in the United States (this however cannot be proved). On 31 March 1902 Pearse managed to fly his home-made aircraft 91 metres in a field near Timaru.
  • William Hamilton, a Canterbury farmer, developed and perfected the propellerless jet boat based on the principle of water jet propulsion. Following this, Hamilton went on to invent the hay-lift, an advanced air compressor, an advanced air conditioner, a machine to smooth ice on skating ponds; the water sprinkler and also contributed to the improvements of hydro-power.
  • There are more golf courses in New Zealand per capita of population, than any other country in the world (over 400 golf courses for four million people).
  • Auckland has the largest number of boats per head of population than any other city in the world.
  • New Zealand is the first country in the world to see each new day.
  • Curio Bay in Southland is one of the world's most extensive and least disturbed examples of a petrified forest, (the forest is approximately 180 million years old).
  • New Zealand was the first country in the world to have a government department for tourism. In 1901 the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts was created.
  • Wellington has more cafes and restaurants per capita than New York.
  • New Zealand is the birthplace of the meringue dessert known as the 'Pavlova', named after the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova.
  • The old Government Building in Wellington is the largest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere (8200 square metres).
  • The vineyards of Central Otago, New Zealand, are the southern most vineyards in the world (45° South).
  • New Zealand won the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987. The New Zealand Women's Rugby Team won the Women's Rugby World Cup in 1998.
  • Tongariro National Park was the fourth national park to be established in the world and the first in New Zealand, in 1887. (Yellowstone National Park in the United States was the first in 1872.)
  • The Hector's Dolphin (the world's smallest marine dolphin), and the world's rarest sea lion, the Hooker's sea lion, are only found in New Zealand waters.
  • New Zealand is home to the world's only flightless parrot, the Kakapo as well as the only alpine parrot in the world, the Kea.
  • The oldest living genus of reptile is the native New Zealand Tuatara. Tuataras have a life expectancy of 300 years. It is estimated that Tuataras can be traced back 190 million years to the Mesozoic era.
  • A New Zealander invented the tear back velcro-strip.
  • The pop-lid on a self sealing paint tin was also invented by a New Zealander, as was the child-proof pill bottle and the crinkle in your hairpins so that they don't fall out!
  • A New Zealand archbishop's son invented the totaliser machine used for racing and sports betting.
  • Waikoropupu Springs located near Nelson, are reputedly the clearest fresh water springs in the world with an outflow of approximately 2,160 million litres of water every 24 hours.
  • Frying Pan Lake near Rotorua, is the world's largest hot water spring reaching a temperature of 200°C at it's deepest point.

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