Mon-Fri 8-17, Sat-Sun 10-16
(UK time)

New Zealand: all about the country, cities, food, travel, people


Show all
New Zealand: all about the country, cities, food, travel, people


Year after year, travelers rank New Zealand in the top ten places they would like to visit, and no one leaves disappointed. Rocky shores, wide beaches, primeval forests, snow-capped mountains, impressive geysers - New Zealand's landscapes are truly majestic. The forests are home to many outlandish birds that have evolved to fill niches usually occupied by mammals, and the coast has been occupied by penguins, whales, and seals. The local Maori people have lived here for 800 years, preserving unique customs. The most popular activities are beach walks, multi-day mountain trekking, bungee jumping, skiing, sea kayaking, rafting. This amazing country allows you to get a wide variety of experiences in one trip.

Nature of New Zealand

Geologically, New Zealand separated early from the supercontinent Gondwana, creating a unique ecosystem. Local birds have adapted, playing the role of animals, many of them became flightless due to the lack of predators. Everything changed about 800 years ago with the arrival of the Polynesian seafarers, when the land they called Aotearoa - "the land of the long white cloud", became the last major land area inhabited by humans.

About 75% of the local flora is unique; some of the oldest plant forms on the planet grow here. However, flowering plants, conifers, ferns, lycopods, which make up most of the terrestrial vegetation, show similarities with the plants of the Malay region, which confirms the theory of an ancient land bridge between these areas. More than 250 plant species repeat the flora of Australia, more than 70 species belong to the forms of flora of South America and the Southern Ocean islands, which is of great interest to botanists. The cowrie pine is found only in some parts of the North Island and is famous for its timber, rimu, totara, pohutukawa are also known.

Apart from seals and two species of bats, there are no native land mammals in New Zealand. Some animals brought to New Zealand have become pests (for example, a rabbit), deer, pigs (now wild), Australian possums are common, whales and dolphins live in the sea.

New Zealand climate and seasons

New Zealand is characterized by a temperate climate: in the far north, subtropical weather is observed in summer, and in the interior of the South Island it can be cold in winter - down to -10 ° C. Much of the country is located close to the coast, which means moderate temperatures and rainfall, and abundant sunshine.

Since New Zealand is located in the Southern Hemisphere, the average temperature decreases as you travel south. New Zealand's north is subtropical and the south is temperate. The warmest months are December, January, February, and the coldest months are June, July, August. In summer the average temperature is 20-30ºC, and in winter it is 10-15ºC. The most favorable season is October, November, April: it is easier to get to the sights and find accommodation.

Winter (May-September) is the wettest, coldest and therefore the least popular time, unless you love winter sports. Prevailing southerly winds bring periods of clear, dry, cloudless weather to the west coast, heavy snowfalls in the "Southern Alps" and in the center of the North Island, making skiing and snowboarding possible.

Landmarks of New Zealand

Moeraki boulders

Moeraki Boulders are one of the most interesting places in New Zealand. These perfectly spherical rock formations are technically not boulders, but nodules exposed by erosion. The attraction is located on the Otago coast on the South Island. The Maori myth says that these boulders are actually the wreckage of a huge waka (canoe).

Moon craters

North of Taupo on the North Island, you will find the Craters of the Moon. The surface of the earth is dotted with huge craters, and the absence of plant life and the seething streams of steam make this place look like another planet. Geothermal activity is responsible for the steam and strong sulfur smell. Visitors pay a nominal entrance fee and follow a carefully marked route through the scenic area. In total, the walk takes from an hour to one and a half.

Sky tower

The Sky Tower is the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere. Its construction began in 1994 and was completed in 1997 - six months ahead of schedule. Architect Gordon Moller was in charge of the design, collaborating with the Fletcher Building to create Auckland's most outstanding man-made landmark. The tower is popular among thrill-seekers and gourmet dinners; it serves as a signal transmission center for local TV channels, radio stations, meteorological centers, and telecommunications companies.

Huka Falls

One of the country's most visited natural attractions, Huka Falls spews roughly 220,000 liters of water per second. The waterfall is fed by the Waikato River, one of the country's longest rivers, which flows into Lake Taupo. Boat trips to the base of the falls, mountain biking, swimming, bird watching, canoeing are available.

Tanya Mahutu

The age of Tane Mahutu, a giant cowrie tree, is about 2,300 years old, with a height of 51 meters and a girth of 13 meters. The "King of the Forest" grows at the northernmost tip of the North Island, 160 km from Auckland.

"Beehive", Parliament building

Of the main parliament buildings, The Beehive is probably the most famous. This modern building, known for its multi-tiered structure, hosts cabinet meetings, the offices of the prime minister and cabinet members. The neighboring House of Parliament was reopened in 1918 after a fire destroyed its predecessor. The Beehive was designed by Sir Basil Spence (1964).

Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill is a volcanic peak, a historical and cultural landmark of the country: it serves as an important memorial site for the Maori, descendants of immigrants from Europe. The Scenic Area, together with neighboring Cornwall Park, forms Oakland City's largest parkland. If you are traveling with the family, be sure to visit the park after descending from the top of One Tree Hill to see the grazing sheep and cattle that make the area so unique.

Tongariro crossing

Famed in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Tongariro crossing is one of the most beautiful day trips you can take in New Zealand. It is the oldest national park in the country and offers impressive views. You will see unique terrain, hot springs, old lava flows, water-filled craters and breathtaking views. It really looks like a walk along a fantastic country or the surface of Mars 19.4 km long.

Mount cook

Mount Cook, also known as Aoraki, is the tallest mountain in New Zealand: its height exceeds 3657 m. Sir Edmund Hillary, famous on Everest, trained on Aoraki, preparing for the most famous trek. You can take a self-guided hike or ski tour, try your hand at kayaking, fishing in the nearby glacial lakes.

New Zealand cities

  • Wellington is the picturesque capital of the country, located in the harbor, which justifies its nickname "Windy City". Beautiful wooden buildings descend along the mountain slopes to the embankment, where visitors can enjoy museums, galleries, theaters.
  • Rotorua is located on the shores of the lake of the same name and is famous for fabulous hot springs and geysers. The city in the heart of the volcanic zone is the most popular tourist destination on the North Island - its streets are often fogged with steam and spray, and a heavy smell of sulfur hovers in the air. Impressive! The volcanic landscape with its fantastic natural wonders and many outdoor activities makes Rotorua a mesmerizing city.
  • Dubbed "New Zealand's Adventure Capital", Queenstown is located on the shores of the crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu on the South Island. Tourists enjoy speedboating, relaxing river cruises, fishing, and the breathtaking scenery of the surrounding mountains is suitable for hiking and photography to capture the iconic rugged landscape of the South Island. Small, laid-back, cosmopolitan, bustling Queenstown boasts gourmet restaurants, bustling bars and a busy cultural calendar. It hosts the Queenstown Winter Festival, the largest celebration of winter with street parties and fireworks, and winter sports are popular.
  • Christchurch is a charming city, the largest on the South Island, and is recovering from the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. New buildings and enterprises are being opened here, parks, museums and galleries have begun to work. The beaches of Christchurch on the Pacific Ocean, the many Pacific islands offer hot air balloon rides, rafting or hiking in the countryside.
  • Auckland is one of the best places in the world to live in terms of quality of life, the largest city in New Zealand and the first point of entry for most guests. Two beautiful harbors sparkle in the sun, and numerous volcanic cones stretch to the sky. Further on are lush fields, the surrounding waters are full of yachts and sailboats, skyscrapers rise just beyond the coastline, and many small islands lie near the city. A laid-back place with a provincial vibe, Auckland is actually the largest Polynesian city in the world. It has trendy shops, fantastic beaches, many great restaurants and bars, and breathtaking views from any of its volcanic peaks. Hot springs, rainforests, great wineries - Auckland offers all kinds of entertainment.

New Zealand cuisine

New Zealand's food industry is great in every way, from the quality of the ingredients, how they are prepared and served, to the places where they are served.

Local gastronomy inherits British culinary traditions. In just the past 25 years, New Zealand chefs have truly grasped the possibilities offered by a fabulous pantry of superfresh ingredients of the highest quality. Along with tender lamb, juicy beef, venison, excellent shellfish, you will find the freshest dairy products, stone fruits, which can be bought almost free of charge at roadside stalls during harvest.

Contemporary New Zealand cuisine draws on Californian and contemporary Australian cuisine, combining it with flavors of the Mediterranean, Asia, Pacific: sun-dried tomatoes, lemongrass, basil, ginger, coconut.

  • New Zealanders love meat : the quality is excellent, New Zealand lamb is often at the top of the menu.
  • Given the long coastline, it is not surprising that fish - perch, tuna, sea bream, grouper, flounder and salmon - are widespread. But trout cannot be bought or sold, although most hotels and restaurants will cook trout if you catch it. This law was intended to protect sport fishing when trout were introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century.
  • One of their favorite delicacies is fry , the collective name for five species of tiny, silvery native fish that are caught primarily on the West Coast and eaten whole in pancakes from August to November.
  • Shellfish are a true New Zealand delicacy. Occasionally you will find a tuatua dug on the beaches of Northland on the menu, but you are more likely to find Bluff's fabulous oysters , scallops and sensational green mussels that are unrivaled in flavor and texture. They are grown in the cool, clear waters of the Marlborough Sounds, especially around Havelock. Live mussels can be bought at any decent supermarket.
  • Delicate crayfish are also available along the coast and are to be found when traveling around Kaikoura and East Cape.
  • In New Zealand restaurants, you will find several examples of Polynesian cuisine: a fern leaf salad or a steak grated with spicy goropito leaves.
  • One of the staples in the Pacific that you're sure to come across is kumara (sweet potato), which is deep fried.
  • Outside the major malls, you are unlikely to find special vegetarian restaurants, and you will have to rely on the emblematic meat-free dishes that most cafes serve. Vegans can develop an unhealthy addiction to nachos , the ubiquitous vegetarian burgers, although new "organic" stores offer homemade vegan / vegetarian pies.
  • Cafes and restaurants across the country offer a wide range of New Zealand wines, beers, but the real New Zealand atmosphere and local drinks await in pubs. In cities where competition from cafes is strong, pubs tend to be more comfortable and relaxing. Country pubs can scare strangers at first, but the barriers will soon disappear: drinking hours are virtually unlimited, drinking establishments open until midnight on weekdays and until 4am or later on weekends.
  • You can buy alcohol from the age of 18; smokers are expelled into the open air or into small specially built rooms.

Most restaurants charge $ 18 for the main course, $ 40 for three courses without wine. On holidays, an additional fee is charged - 15%.

Delicacies are best found in independent shops that offer mostly local organic produce. These can be complemented by a visit to the farmers' markets, which are open on Saturday or Sunday mornings.

Transport

Bus

Buses are the cheapest, most common form of public transport available to travel between cities in New Zealand. Fares start at NZ $ 10.

Hop-on-hop-off buses are another popular way to get around New Zealand, especially with tourists. Choose your travel card and plan your travel route in advance.

A train

Trains carry passengers on three main rail lines: from Auckland to Wellington, Picton Christchurch and Christchurch on the West Coast. The latter option is considered one of the most scenic rail travel in the world. Train tickets start at about $ 35.

Ferry

Ferries are popular for travel between the North and South Islands. The two main service providers are InterIslander and Bluebridge, and fares start at $ 40 for pedestrians (i.e. no cars on board).

Ferry services are available between the mainland and the coastal islands of New Zealand, including Waiheke and Rangitoto. In coastal areas, ferries connect cities that are more accessible by boat than by road: Russell, Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

Water taxis are small boats that offer regular services to smaller ports that cannot be reached by ferries, making them convenient for hiking or mountain biking in places like Queen Charlotte Sounds and Abel Tasman National Park.

Car rental

You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have a valid driving license from your country or an International Driving Permit (IDP).

In New Zealand, driving on the left, roads can be narrow and winding, and the weather is variable.

When is the best time to go to New Zealand

In the southern hemisphere, Christmas is the start of the summer school holidays, which run from mid-December to early February. From Boxing Day to mid-January, New Zealanders massively visit beaches, motels, campgrounds, so it can be difficult to book a room, prices will be higher. But at this time, tourist attractions work longer.

Other school holidays last two weeks from mid to late April, two weeks from early to mid July, the first two weeks of October, but they do not affect the crowded beaches and popular spots.

mobile connection

There are three main mobile phone companies in New Zealand with their own mobile tower network:

  • Spark
  • Vodafone
  • 2Degrees.

Telecommunications are provided by many small operators who rent towers from major operators and sell their plans at a reduced price:

  • Skinny Mobile (Spark Network)
  • Warehouse Mobile (2Degree Network)
  • Compass (Spark Network)
  • Blue Sky (Spark Network)
  • Slingshot (Spark Network).
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Kuban State University, Russia (World Economics); Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
Read also...
You may be interested

Your comment/review/question:
Callback Free course selection Online consultant