New Zealand
No matter how you look at it, New Zealand is a long way from everywhere: it takes some 27 hours to fly there from Europe and it is still some 1,180 miles from Australia. But the effort is rewarded by some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and a relaxed, rural way of life now lost to most Western countries. It is also one of the cleanest and environmentally green places on Earth and increasingly a top destination for those yearning to discover a land of sweeping coastlines, steaming volcanoes, vast mountain chains and lush rainforests.
New Zealand is made up of many islands, the main ones being North Island and South Island. Separated by the narrow Cook Strait, they stretch northeast to southwest across some 1,000 miles. The country’s diverse terrain and climate mean the North Cape can be very warm while snow is falling on Stewart Island in the extreme south. The snow-capped Southern Alps, with Mount Cook at their centre, run the length of South Island, with dramatic glaciers and narrow lakes among them. Typical of this stunning landscape is Fiordland National Park, made famous by the film Lord of the Rings.
North Island, home of New Zealand’s cosmopolitan capital, Wellington, and Auckland, the largest city, boasts sub-tropical vegetation and pristine beaches.
An outdoor paradise, the country offers every type of adventure sport from white water rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping and caving to mountain biking, skiing and diving. Less challenging activities such as hiking, fishing and whale watching are always popular. And this is not really surprising, because New Zealand’s scenery is superb whether seen on foot, horseback, cycle, skis, car, boat or train. Moreover, the country’s unique flora and fauna provide opportunities to spot rare orchids, the shy kiwi or even a pod of whales.
But New Zealand is not simply about adventure and the great outdoors. New World wine and good food are high on the agenda, and everywhere you go you will be reminded of the country’s culture and the immense pride it takes in its indigenous people, the Maori. You can visit places steeped in Maori history, such as Rotura’s steaming hot springs, or the Maori and Pacific collection at Auckland Museum.
Finally, a trip to New Zealand would be considered incomplete without a nod towards rugby, the national sport. As every dedicated player and fan will know, the game remains deep within the country’s psyche.
New Zealand’s currency is the New Zealand dollar. Traveller’s cheques are accepted at banks, hotels and some stores. All major credit cards can be used.


See & Do

New Zealand offers an outstanding number of attractions and activities for people of all ages. Here are a few highlights:

  • Wellington – Victorian architecture around the harbour, good restaurants, Botanic Gardens, cable car, museums
  • Auckland – Sky Tower, view from Mount Eden, Ponsonby Road for restaurants (Pacific Rim cuisine), Otara Market for Polynesian culture, museums, Auckland Zoo
  • Christchurch– Gothic Revival buildings and Arts Centre, Botanic Gardens, Canterbury Museum, Christchurch Cathedral, International Antarctic Centre, Southern Encounter Aquarium and Kiwi House, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve (6km north)
  • Rotorua – hot springs, living Maori culture
  • Napier – art deco town
  • Wanaka – lakeside town
  • Dunedin – check out the whisky distillery and visit the nearby Otaga Peninsula
  • National Parks – including Mount Cook National Park, Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park, Westland Tai Poutini National Park, Nelson Lakes National Park, Te Urewera National Park, Fiordland National Park with the Milford Sound road journey
  • Wine routes – New Zealand Wine Trail
  • Beaches – including 90-mile Beach, Whitianga Beach, Karikari Peninsula, Mount Maunganui Ocean Beach, Hot Water beach (North Island)
    Abel Tasman National Park beaches, Kaiteriteri Beach (South Island)
  • Activities – hiking, climbing, kayaking, skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking, horse riding, bungee jumping, bridge swinging, swimming, diving, snorkelling, fishing, caving, white water rafting, sailing, jetboating, paragliding, watching whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.


Favourites to bring home are Maori arts and crafts, including greenstone carvings, paintings, pottery and wood items. Greenstone, a kind of jade, is also popular when made into jewellery. Other items include knitwear and rugs in Merino wool, leather and sheepskin, natural beauty products, Manuka honey, T-shirts, soft toy kiwis and rugby memorabilia.

All the large cities have major shopping malls and brand-name shops. Auckland is regarded as New Zealand’s fashion capital, with the suburb Newmarket the best retail area.

Food & Drink

New Zealand is synonymous with sheep and you will find plenty of lamb on the menu, but beef and pork, and even venison and game, are popular too. Being an island nation with nowhere far from the sea, fish is a favourite and also seafood. Restaurants range from fine dining establishments in city centres to seafood shacks on the beach and the eponymous fish and chips take-away.

National dishes include hangi a Maori dish of meat and vegetables wrapped up and placed underground with heated rocks and wet sand and slowly steamed. Other specialities are golden kiwi fruits; clams, mussels, oysters and abalone; and kumara, a native sweet potato. And there is the pavlova, the world famous meringue dessert inspired by ballet dancer Anna Pavlova.

Although New Zealand is currently gaining a reputation as a producer of fine New World wines, its wine-making origins go back to colonial days. Ten major wine-growing regions cover the country producing high quality red and white wines. Beer – mainly pale lager – is produced by some fifty small breweries across the country. Fresh fruit juices are popular everywhere.

Here are a few restaurants you might like to try:

  • Soul Bar and Bistro, Auckland
  • Toto, Auckland
  • Verona, Auckland
  • Stone Oven, Auckland
  • White, Auckland
  • Antoine’s, Auckland
  • Iguacu, Auckland
  • Fish, Auckland
  • Aunty Mena’s Vegetarian Café, Wellington
  • Wellington Trawling Sea Market, Wellington
  • Restaurant 88, Wellington
  • Matterhorn, Wellington
  • Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, Wellington
  • Dux de Lux, Christchurch
  • Le Bon Bolli, Christchurch
  • Zydeco, Christchurch
  • Pinnacle Restaurant, (top of the Gondola ride), Christchurch




There’s plenty going on in New Zealand’s cities and large towns, including theatre productions, concerts and cinema. Opera companies from around the world now have New Zealand on their map and international names grace the country’s stages and concert halls. Auckland is home to the big Sky City Entertainment Centre, comprising casinos, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and bars, plus a great view of the city. Bars are firm favourites, whether in pubs and hotels or smart lounge bars. Check your destination for nightclubs and discos.


The list of exciting places to visit is almost endless and some highlights are listed in the See & Do section. Hotels and tourist information offices provide details of local tour companies and excursions.

Health & Safety

Health care in New Zealand is of a very high standard. Contact your doctor before leaving to check vaccination requirements. There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK, entitling British visitors to publicly-funded health treatment. This will give you free treatment as a hospital inpatient, but some charges are made for any services provided by outpatients and private doctors. Comprehensive medical insurance is strongly recommended and be sure your travel insurance covers you if you intend taking part in hazardous sports and activities.

Water is safe to drink, although bottled water is readily available. Food does not carry any health-safety concerns.

New Zealand is considered a safe country, but take the normal precautions against theft while travelling or leaving valuables in parked cars. Avoid unlit areas at night and always let someone know where you are going if you are taking a trip alone, especially into the countryside. Take care when swimming and heed local warnings of currents and rip tides. Watch out for sheep on the roads.  

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