Despite the great distance most travellers have to travel to get there, New Zealand is a popular travel destination. The country is very sparsely populated, making it home to countless unspoiled areas of natural beauty. New Zealand is therefore perfect for a holiday in nature.
In addition to the many unspoiled scenic areas, New Zealand has countless other interesting places of interest. These include the cities of Queensland, Rotorua and Auckland. Here you can read more about New Zealand’s history, culture and tourist highlights.
Facts and Figures
|Surface area||268,021 km²|
|Population||5.1 million (2021)|
|Religion||Christianity (37%), Hinduism (2.7%), Buddhism (1.1%), Islam (1.3%), no religion (48.6%)|
|Currency||New Zealand dollar (NZD)|
|Time difference||11 hours (summer) or 13 hours (winter)|
|Flight time||About 23 hours|
|Plugs||Type I (travel plug required)|
|Tap water||Safe to drink|
|Visa||Visa (NZeTA) is required|
New Zealand is located in the Pacific Ocean and has a surface area of about 270,000 square kilometres. However, only five million people live in New Zealand, making it a very sparsely populated country. In addition, the country is the most isolated in the world. The nearest country, Australia, is still quite far away, with a distance of about 2,000 kilometres. The distance from New Zealand to Australia is about as long as from Amsterdam to Athens. New Zealand’s two main islands are the North Island and the South Island. Almost 80% of New Zealand’s population lives on the North Island.
The first inhabitants of New Zealand
New Zealand was probably not inhabited by people until the late 13th century. The first people to reach the shores of the North Island of New Zealand were the Polynesians, a population group from modern Indonesia and Taiwan. Thanks to their special canoes, the Polynesians were able to spread out across the entire Pacific Ocean. Within several centuries, the descendants of the Polynesians spread out across the North and South Islands.
These descendants are now called Maori, which in Maori (the language of the Maori) means “normal”. The Maori initially lived as hunters and gatherers. Their main prey was the moa, a flightless bird. Some species of moa were as tall as three metres. Before the arrival of humans, thousands, if not millions, of these animals lived in New Zealand. However, overhunting soon reduced the number of moas, and within a few hundred years, they were extinct. As a result, the Maori were forced to adapt their way of life. Many of them began establishing settlements and farming.
First contact with Europeans
The first European who discovered New Zealand was the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who came ashore on the South Island in 1642. In Europe, it was speculated that the west coast of modern-day New Zealand was the edge of a large southern continent (Terra Australis). The expedition led by Abel Tasman, was meant to discover whether this was the case.
The extensive coast of the North Island
It was not until 1770 that a British expedition sailed around both islands, after which colonisation of the country slowly began. At first, mainly Englishmen came to New Zealand from Australia, first to trade with the local population but also to establish settlements for the purpose of whaling. Trade with the English gave some Maori tribes firearms, which they used against their opponents from less well-armed tribes. Missionaries also came to New Zealand and began converting the indigenous population at a rapid pace. By the mid-19th century, most Maori had converted to Christianity.
The British assumption of power
In 1839, New Zealand was officially annexed by the English. Many Maori tribes revolted against this. Between the years 1840 and 1870 of the 19th century, many violent conflicts took place, but the Maori eventually had to taste defeat. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s European residents sought greater autonomy. In 1853, the country was divided into six provinces, each with its own representation. A national House of Representatives was also established, although local governments still held a relatively large amount of power.
The English bought large tracts of land from the Maori, resulting in the colonists having all possibilities to expand their land. Because of the wars in which the Maori were defeated, the political power of the local population continued to decline. In the 1860s, Maori deputies were given seats in the New Zealand parliament and Maori men were allowed to vote for the first time, but nevertheless, they still only had limited authority over their original territory.
The emergence of national identity
At the end of the 19th century, New Zealand had 500,000 inhabitants. More roads, bridges and railroads were also built in this period, allowing the country to develop economically. After the First World War, a national pride emerged. The New Zealanders had fought bravely, and they first identified themselves as a united, distinct people, independent of British colonial powers. New Zealand gradually gained more control over its own domestic politics.
Nevertheless, close ties with the British Empire remained, as evidenced by New Zealandʼs willingness to help the allies in the Second World War. Because New Zealand mainly had US military support during the war, a closer relationship with the United States evolved. Even so, many New Zealanders felt connected to the United Kingdom until the 1970s.
At this time, New Zealand was characterised by high urbanisation. Even the Maori moved en masse to urban areas. For a long time, the Maori were discriminated against. They got paid less in comparison to European workers and lived in poorer neighbourhoods. Protest movements in the 1960s tried to end this discrimination. However, it was not until the end of the 20th century that the Maori were seen as equals. Nowadays, the Maori culture is acknowledged as an important part of New Zealandʼs identity.
The New Zealand culture has strong similarities with British culture. Until the 1950s, many European New Zealanders saw themselves as British. The connection with the old colonial rulers can still be seen, for example, in sports. Rugby and cricket are very popular in New Zealand. Prior to each rugby match, the New Zealand national team performs a haka, a traditional Maori dance. This shows the great influence of the indigenous Maori culture still present in the country.
About 15% of the current population of New Zealand is Maori. Early in the 20th century, a fear arose that the Maori would become extinct, including their language and culture. To stimulate education in the Maori language (Te Reo Maori), among others, this was prevented. About 4% of the New Zealand population is now fluent in this language.
The Auckland skyline, the biggest city in New Zealand
Generally speaking, New Zealand has a temperate climate. The mountain ranges in the middle of the South Island ensure that the country has a varied weather pattern. For example, the west coast of the South Island is the wettest region of the country, while there is hardly any rainfall on the east coast. New Zealand typically has mild winters (with temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees) and relatively cool summers (with temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees). The weather in the New Zealand summer (in the months of December, January and February) is very popular among European tourists who want to escape from the mostly cold European winters.
|Month||Average max. temperature in °Cø max. temp. in °C||Average min. temperature in °Cø min. temp. in °C||Average number of rainy daysø Number of rainy days|
With a height of 3,724 metres, Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand
Tourism in the national parks of New Zealand
New Zealand is mostly popular because of its diverse and beautiful natural landscapes. The country has 13 major national parks, and in many of these parks, it is possible to camp in nature. Many tourists decide to make a road trip during their trip through New Zealand to be able to admire as much natural beauty as possible. Below are several of the most beautiful national parks in the country.
Tongariro National Park
Located on the North Island, this park is the oldest national park in New Zealand and is best known for its volcanic activity. The park has no less than three active volcanoes, which provide impressive scenery and views. The hikes through this park are among the most spectacular in the world. During a walk through this park, you will walk at the foot of two mountains and overlook craters and azure-blue volcanic lakes. There is a maximum number of visitors allowed to enter the park per day, so should you wish to visit this place, make sure to plan your trip on time.
Abel Tasman National Park
With a surface area of 225 km2, this is the smallest national park in New Zealand. It borders the northeastern shore of the South Island and has the most beautiful beaches in the country. It is sometimes said that the park, with summer temperatures of around twenty degrees and winter temperatures above ten degrees, has the best weather in New Zealand. Here, it is seldom too hot or too cold. In addition to many hiking trails, this park also has lots of opportunities to practice water sports. Here you can kayak, dive, and swim, for example.
Nelson Lakes National Park
This park on the South Island is named after two big lakes, namely Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa. These glacier lakes are surrounded by mountains and dense beech forests. In addition, many indigenous bird species can be found here, including the famous Kiwi, the national symbol of New Zealand.
Arthur’s Pass National Park
In the middle of the New Zealand Alps, a mountain range about 650 kilometres long that crosses the entire South Island from north to south, is the Arthur’s Pass National Park. Large parts of the mountains are covered by lush forests and there are dozens of valleys with several rivers and smaller streams meandering through them. Tourists can do countless hikes here, but more adventurous activities such as mountain climbing or skiing are also possible.
Fiordland National Park
With 12,607 km2, Fiordland National Park is the largest nature reserve in the country. In 1986, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many ravines and fjords that were formed by the melting of glaciers thousands of years ago. The famous Milford Sound fjord is also in this national park. A boat trip across one or more fjords offers an excellent opportunity to admire the many beautiful places this park has to offer.
The New Zealand coast
Economy and currency
New Zealand is mainly a service economy, but in addition, the country also has a large agricultural and industrial sector. The main export products of the country are dairy products, meat, wood and wine. New Zealand’s main trading partners are Australia, the United States and China.
In New Zealand, the New Zealand dollar (NZD) is used as currency. You can withdraw money with your European debit card at ATMs. Keep in mind that this requires your debit card to be set up for use internationally and not just in Europe. In major cities, you will find ATMs without any problem, but in remote areas, it can be more difficult to get cash. It is therefore recommended that you always make sure you carry some cash with you as well.
New Zealand is a very safe country to travel to. However, there are certain safety risks, especially in natural areas. There are regular earthquakes and displacements in the country. In addition, tropical storms in the summer months can cause a lot of rainfall and floods. Finally, there are a number of active volcanoes in New Zealand that can suddenly erupt. You should therefore always check the local news and safety regulations of the New Zealand government.
You need a visa or NZeTA for a trip to New Zealand. If you are a national of an EU country, the United Kingdom or Switzerland and meet certain requirements, you are eligible for an NZeTA. This is a digital travel permit that can easily be applied for online through this website. The cost is € 59,95 per person. Applying for the NZeTA only takes about ten minutes. You can stay in New Zealand for up to three consecutive months with an NZeTA.
e-Visa.ie is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the New Zealand visa. e-Visa.ie acts as an intermediary and is in no way part of any government. You can also apply for a visa directly with the immigration service (58 NZD per visa, via nzeta.immigration.govt.nz). However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via e-Visa.ie, our support centre is available to you 24/7. In addition, we manually check your application and all the documents you provide before submitting it to the immigration authorities on your behalf. If we suspect any errors or omissions while doing so, we will personally contact you to ensure that your application can still be processed quickly and correctly. To use our services, you pay us 58 NZD in consular fees, which we pay to the immigration service on your behalf, as well as € 27,37 in service fees as compensation for our services, including VAT. Our services have saved many travellers from major problems during their trip. Should an application be rejected despite our support and verification, we will refund the full purchase price (unless an application for a previous New Zealand visa was rejected for the same traveller). Read more about our services here.