Welcome to New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. It is made up of 2 large islands called the North and South Islands, a smaller one called Stewart Island and a number of small islands off the main coastline. It is approximately 1600 kilometres in length and 300 kilometres in width. The North Island mainly consists of coastal plains and small mountain ranges. In what is called the Central Plateau are 3 volcanoes - Tongariro, Ngaruahoe and Ruapehu. The slopes of Ruapehu hosts 2 of the 3 main ski slopes in New Zealand. Whakapapa being on the northern side and Tuaroa being on the southern side.

The South Island has a range of mountains running most of the length of it, called the Southern Alps. The Southern Alps act as a climatic barrier between the East and West Coasts of the South Island. The Southern Alps is where the country's tallest mountain, Mt Cook, is located. The third of New Zealand's ski slopes, Coronet Peak, is situated on the Alps not far from one of the country's main tourist spots, Queenstown.

Stewart Island is populated by the hearty souls who are able to bear hard conditions in weather and, at time because of the weather, living in an isolated place.

The climate in New Zealand is what could be called changeable and experiencing the 4 seasons in one day is not unheard of. But, in the main, the weather of New Zealand is sub-tropical in the North and the South has weather extremes that are experienced in North America during the winter. The 4 seasons are: Spring - September to November, Summer - December to February, Autumn - March to May and Winter - June to August.

The time zone in New Zealand is GMT plus 12 hours (or for Americans this means 20 hours ahead of your EST). There are no time zones in New Zealand. Daylight Savings takes effect in October through to usually the third Sunday in March.

The population of New Zealand of approximately 3.6 million. Over 80 % is recorded as being of European decent and the indigenous people (Maoris) make up approximately 10%.

The Maoris are of Polynesian origin. It is believed that the first Maori (Kupe) arrived in New Zealand in or around the year 1000 AD. Apparently after sailing thousands of miles in long canoes from Hawaiki. It is he, it is believed, who named the land that he had come across Aotearoa.

Abel Tasman is the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642. Captain James Cook first sighted New Zealand in 1769. He was the first person to comprehensively map the new land, which was done over three separate voyages in the 18th century. The only mistake he made was making Banks Peninsula in the South Island an island. New Zealand was then quickly visited by European whalers, sealers and traders who exploited the new country's rich resources. Missionaries soon followed and in 1792 the first settlement was established in Russell in the Bay of Islands.

In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by a number of Maori chiefs and the Crown, thus declaring New Zealand a British colony.


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