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New Zealand


New Zealand 2
  Landscape 2
  Demography     4
  Politics  4
  History   6
  Economy   8
  Life in General      9
North Island     12
South Island     14



New Zealand

Where is New Zealand?
New Zealand is a country in Southwestern Oceania, southeast of Australia  in
the South Pacific Ocean, with two large islands (North  and  South  Island),
one smaller island (Stewart Island), and numerous much smaller islands.  New
Zealand has a total land area of 268,670 sq km and  a  coastline  of  15,134
km.
Time Zones
New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) making it one  of
the first places in the world to see the new day. Summer time  (or  Daylight
Saving Time) is an advance of one hour at 2am in the morning  on  the  first
Sunday in October and back to NZST at  3am  in  the  morning  on  the  third
Sunday morning of March.


[pic]

Landscape

New Zealand  is  a  long  narrow  country  lying  roughly  North/South  with
mountain ranges running much of its length. It is predominately  mountainous
with some large  coastal  plains  and  is  a  little  larger  than  Britain,
slightly smaller than Italy, and almost exactly the size of Colorado.
The only `geographical feature' New  Zealand  doesn't  have  is  live  coral
reef. New Zealand has all the  rest:  rainforest,  desert,  fiords,  flooded
valleys,  gorges,  plains,  mountains,  glaciers,  volcanoes,   geothermics,
swamps, lakes, braided  rivers,  peneplains,  badlands,  and  our  very  own
continental plate junction... As a result of  the  latter,  earthquakes  are
common, though usually not severe.
The North Island has a number of large volcanoes  (including  the  currently
active Mount Ruapehu) and highly  active  thermal  areas,  while  the  South
Island boasts the Southern Alps - a spine of magnificent  mountains  running
almost its entire length. Another notable feature  of  New  Zealand  is  its
myriad rivers and lakes: notably the Whanganui River,  Lake  Taupo  and  the
breathtaking lakes Waikaremoana and Wanaka.

Flora and Fauna
New Zealand is believed to be a fragment of the ancient  Southern  continent
of Gondwanaland which became detached over 100 million  years  ago  allowing
many ancient plants and animals to survive and evolve  in  isolation.  As  a
result, most of the New  Zealand  flora  and  fauna  is  indigenous/endemic.
About 10 to 15% of the total land area of New Zealand is native  flora,  the
bulk protected in national parks and reserves.
New Zealand has the worlds largest  flightless  parrot  (kakapo),  the  only
truly alpine  parrot  (kea),  the  oldest  reptile  (tuatara),  the  biggest
earthworms, the largest weta, the smallest bats, some of the  oldest  trees,
and many of the rarest birds, insects,  and  plants  in  the  world....  New
Zealand is home to the world famous Tuatara,  a  lizard-like  reptile  which
dates back to the dinosaurs and perhaps before (260 mill years?).  The  only
native land mammals are two rare species of bat. New Zealand's many  endemic
birds include the flightless kiwi, takahe, kakapo and  weka.  Far  too  many
species of bird have become extinct since  humans  arrived  on  New  Zealand
included the various species of Dinornis (moa) the largest  of  which  stood
up to 2.5 metres high. There is also some unique insect  life  such  as  the
Giant Weta and glow worms. Other than two spiders, there is a  lack  of  any
deadly poisonous things (snakes, spiders, etc.) which  is  why  New  Zealand
Agricultural Regulations are so strict.
Introduced species  -  pigs,  goats,  possums,  dogs,  cats,  deer  and  the
ubiquitous sheep - are found throughout New Zealand but their  proliferation
in the wild has had a  deleterious  effect  on  the  environment:  over  150
native plants - 10% of the total number of native species - and many  native
birds are presently threatened with extinction.
New Zealand's offshore waters  hold  a  variety  of  fish,  including  tuna,
marlin, snapper, trevally, kahawai and shark; while  its  marine  mammals  -
dolphins, seals and whales - attract nature-lovers from  around  the  world.
There are 12 national, 20 forest, three maritime and two marine parks,  plus
two World Heritage Areas: Tongariro National Park in the  North  Island  and
Te Waihipouna-mu in the South Island.
One of the most noticeable plants  is  the  pohutakawa  (known  as  the  New
Zealand Christmas tree) which detonates with brilliant  red  flowers  around
December. The great kauri trees  in  the  few  remaining  kauri  forests  in
Northland are very old with some believed to be up to 2000 years  old.  Much
of the South Island is still forested, particularly the West Coast.

Climate

Lying between 34S and  47S,  New  Zealand  sits  squarely  in  the  `roaring
forties' latitude which means a prevailing and  continual  wind  blows  over
the country from east to west; this  can  range  from  a  gentle  breeze  in
summer to a buffeting, roof-stripping gale in winter. The North  Island  and
South Island, because of  their  different  geological  features,  have  two
distinct patterns of rainfall: in the South Island, the  Southern  Alps  act
as a barrier for the moisture-laden winds from the Tasman  Sea,  creating  a
wet climate to the west of the mountains and a  dry  climate  to  the  east;
while the North Island's rainfall  is  more  evenly  distributed  without  a
comparable geological feature such as the Alps.
The New Zealand climate is temperate with  no  real  extremes.  Temperatures
are a few degrees cooler in the South Island, and both islands receive  snow
in winter. Being an island nation,  the  yearly  range  of  temperatures  is
quite small, around 10 degrees Celsius variation between winter and  summer.
Winter falls in the months of June through August and summer  from  December
through to February.
It is important to remember that New Zealand's climate is  maritime,  rather
than continental, which means the weather can change with  amazing  rapidity
and consequence. New Zealand enjoys long hours of  sunshine  throughout  the
year making it an ideal year round destination. In winter the  South  Island
mountain and central North Island do have heavy  snowfalls  providing  great
skiing. The busy tourist season falls in the warmer months between  November
and April, though ski resorts, such as Queenstown, are full during winter.

Demography

Total population is about 3.7 million. Over 70% of  the  population  are  in
the North Island. The largest centre is Auckland (over 1 million),  and  the
capital Wellington.


The official languages  are  English  and  Maori.  English  is  more  widely
spoken, though the Maori language, for  so  long  on  the  decline,  is  now
making a comeback due to the revival of Maoritanga.  A  mellifluous,  poetic
language, the Maori language is surprisingly easy  to  pronounce  if  spoken
phonetically and each word split into  separate  syllables.  Pacific  Island
and Asian languages may be heard in cities.


Culture
The dominant cultural groups are the Pakeha and  the  Maori.  Other  smaller
groups include Yugoslavian Dalmatians, Polynesians, Indians and  Chinese.  A
common thread that binds the entire  population  is  its  love  of  sport  -
especially the national game of rugby union - and outdoor pursuits  such  as
sailing,  swimming,  cycling,  hiking  and  camping.  The   secular   aside,
Christianity is the most common religion, with Anglicanism,  Presbyterianism
and  Catholicism  the  largest  denominations.  An   interesting   religious
variation is the synthesis of the  Maori  Ratana  and  Ringatu  faiths  with
Christianity.


New  Zealand  art  is  multifarious,  valuing  innovation,   integrity   and
craftsmanship that reflects Pakeha, Maori  and  Melanesian  heritage.  Wood,
stone, shell and bone carvings are  readily  available  while  larger  works
such as tukutuku (wood panelling)  can  be  seen  in  most  maraes  (meeting
houses). Paua shell, greenstone, greywacke and greenwacke pebbles are  often
fashioned into jewellery that takes  its  inspiration  from  the  landscape:
earrings shaped like the leaves of a gingko  tree;  sunglasses  modelled  on
native fern tendrils; and necklaces in frangipani-flower designs.  There  is
a lively theatre scene in the  country,  especially  in  Wellington,  and  a
number of galleries, including the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, which is  the
oldest viewing room in New Zealand and one of its best. The music  scene  is
vigorous and fecund, spawning a pool of talent - from Split Enz and  Crowded
House  to  the  thrashing  guitar  pyrotechnics  of   Dunedin's   3D's   and
Straitjacket Fits - lauded locally and overseas.

Politics

Constitution

New Zealand shares with Britain and Israel the distinction of being  one  of
the three developed countries that does not have a codified Constitution  on
the U.S. model. When the  country  was  annexed  by  Britain  in  1840,  the
British parliament enacted that all applicable law of  England  as  at  1840
became the law of New Zealand. In  1856,  the  New  Zealand  parliament  was
given the power  to  enact  its  own  law  and  nothing  changed  when  full
independence was achieved (26-9-1907) except  that  the  British  parliament
lost its overriding authority. We have, thus, never  had  the  problem  that
Australia and Canada have had of  "repatriating"  a  constitution  that  was
really an Act of the British parliament.
Our  constitution,  like  the  British,   consists   of   parliament's   own
conventions and rules of conduct, some legislation such as the  New  Zealand
Constitution Act (1986, not enacted), and fundamental rules applied  by  the
Courts which go back  into  English  history.  It  evolves  rather  than  is
amended.
The flag of New Zealand is blue with the flag of the UK in the upper  hoist-
side quadrant with four red five-pointed stars edged in  white  centered  in
the outer  half  of  the  flag;  the  stars  represent  the  Southern  Cross
constellation.
The National Anthem of New Zealand is "God Defend New Zealand".

Form of Government
Constitutional monarchy, with a single-chamber parliament.
The monarch is said to "reign but not rule": except for a residual power  to
actually  govern  in  the  event  of  some   complete   breakdown   of   the
parliamentary system, the monarch has merely ceremonial duties and  advisory
powers. When the monarch is absent from the country, which is  most  of  the
time, those duties and powers are delegated to the Governor-General  who  is
appointed  by  the  monarch  for  a  limited  term  after  approval  by  the
government.
Parliament is the consitutional "sovereign" - there is no theoretical  limit
on what it can validly do, and the validity of  the  laws  which  it  enacts
cannot be challenged in the courts (although the  courts  do  have  and  use
wide-ranging powers to control administrative acts  of  the  government).  A
new parliament is elected every three years (universal suffrage at age  18).
The leader of the party which commands majority  support  in  parliament  is
appointed prime minister and he or she nominates the other Ministers of  the
Crown. The ministers (and sometimes the whole majority party in  parliament)
are collectively called "the government". Our system almost  entirely  lacks
formal checks and balances - the majority party can virtually  legislate  as
it likes subject only to its desire to be re-elected every three years.
Until now, members of  parliament  have  been  elected  on  a  single-member
constituency, winner takes all, system similar to those of Britain  and  the
U.S.A. As a result of referenda conducted in 1993, future  parliaments  will
be elected on  a  mixed-member  proportional  system  modelled  on  that  of
Germany.
The administration is  highly  centralised.  The  country  is  divided  into
"districts" (the urban ones called "cities") each with a District (or  City)
Council and  Mayor,  but  their  powers  are  limited  to  providing  public
facilities (not housing) and  enforcement  of  by-laws  (local  regulations)
such as parking regulations. The Police are a  single  force  controlled  by
the central government.
The Justice System
There is a four-level hearings and appeals system:
  Top level      Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (London)

                                       |

                         Court of Appeal (Wellington)

                                       |

                            High Court (in all cities)

                                       |

  Bottom level             District Courts (most towns)

There is  also  the  Small  Claims  Court  which  handles  smaller  personal
disputes.
Civil and criminal cases start in the District or High Court,  depending  on
their seriousness and appeals go up the chain. Certain rare cases can  start
in the Court of Appeal. District and High Court judges  sit  alone  or  with
juries. The Court of Appeal (and on certain rare occasions the  High  Court)
consists of three or five judges sitting "en banc". The  Judicial  Committee
of the Privy Council consists mainly of British Law Lords with  New  Zealand
judges also sitting in New Zealand cases; in  theory  its  decisions  merely
"opinions" for the benefit of the monarch as the fount of all  justice,  but
in practice its rulings have the force of ultimate appeal.
All judges  are  appointed  by  the  government  -  High  Court  judges  are
nominated by the Law Society, but District Court judges apply  for  the  job
like any other. Various  special-purpose  courts  (Industrial  Court,  Maori
Land Court, Family Court, etc.) exist and have the same status as  either  a
District Court or the High Court.

History

The Polynesian navigator Kupe has been credited with the  discovery  of  New
Zealand in 950 AD. He named it Aotearoa (Land  of  the  Long  White  Cloud).
Centuries later, around 1350 AD, a great migration  of  people  from  Kupe's
homeland of Hawaiki followed his navigational  instructions  and  sailed  to
New Zealand, eventually  supplanting  or  mixing  with  previous  residents.
Their culture, developed over  centuries  without  any  discernible  outside
influence, was hierarchical and often sanguinary.
In 1642, the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman briefly sailed along the west  coast
of New Zealand; any thoughts  of  a  longer  stay  were  thwarted  when  his
attempt to land resulted in several of his crew being killed and  eaten.  In
1769, Captain James Cook circumnavigated the two  main  islands  aboard  the
Endeavour. Initial contact with the Maoris also  proved  violent  but  Cook,
impressed with the Maoris' bravery and spirit and recognising the  potential
of this newfound land, grabbed it for the British crown before setting  sail
for Australia.
When  the  British  began  their  antipodean  colonising,  New  Zealand  was
originally seen as an offshoot  of  Australian  enterprise  in  whaling  and
sealing: in fact, from 1839 to 1841 the country was under  the  jurisdiction
of New South Wales.  However,  increased  European  settlement  soon  proved
problematic: a policy was urgently required  regarding  land  deals  between
the settlers (Pakeha) and the Maori. In 1840, the  Treaty  of  Waitangi  was
signed, with the Maori ceding sovereignty of their  country  to  Britain  in
exchange for protection  and  guaranteed  possession  of  their  lands.  But
relations between the Maori  and  Pakeha  soon  soured  (the  Maoris  became
increasingly alarmed at the effect the Pakeha had  on  their  society  while
the Pakeha rode roughshod over Maori rights  outlined  in  the  treaty).  In
1860, war broke out between them, continuing for much of the  decade  before
the Maori were defeated.
By the late 19th century, things had temporarily calmed down. The  discovery
of gold had engendered much prosperity, and wide-scale sheep  farming  meant
New Zealand became an efficient and mostly  self-reliant  country.  Sweeping
social changes - women's suffrage, social  security,  the  encouragement  of
trade unions and the introduction of child  care  services  -  cemented  New
Zealand's reputation as a country committed to egalitarian reform.
New Zealand was given dominion status in the  British  Empire  in  1907  and
granted  autonomy  by  Britain  in  1931;  independence,  however,  was  not
formally proclaimed until 1947. The economy continued to prosper  until  the
worldwide recession in  the  1980s,  when  unemployment  rose  dramatically.
Today the  economy  has  stabilised,  thanks  largely  to  an  export-driven
recovery. Internationally, New Zealand was hailed during the  mid-1980s  for
its anti-nuclear stance - even though it meant a falling-out with the USA  -
and its opposition to French nuclear testing in the  Pacific  (which  France
countered, to  much  opprobrium  but  little  penalty,  by  blowing  up  the
Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior as it sat in Auckland Harbour).
The Maori population  is  now  increasing  faster  than  the  Pakeha  and  a
resurgence in Maoritanga (Maori culture) has had a major and lasting  impact
on New Zealand society. Culturally, the most heartening aspect had been  the
mending of relations between the Maori and Pakeha (in 1985,  the  Treaty  of
Waitangi was overhauled, leading to financial reparations  to  a  number  of
Maori tribes whose land had been unjustly confiscated).  However,  a  recent
clumsy take-it-or-leave-it attempt by the New Zealand  government  to  offer
financial  reparations  has  resulted  in  an  upsurge  of  militant   Maori
protests. Maoris have disrupted events, occupied land claim  areas,  set  up
roadblocks and  threatened  to  blow-up  the  New  Zealand  parliament.  The
disharmony has shocked New Zealanders and placed  national  conciliation  at
the top of the political agenda.
26,000,000 B.C.
Southern alps rise above the ocean.

700 A.D.

Possible early settlement on the South Island by an archaic Maori
population originating in Polynesia.


10C

Date of discovery of New Zealand by Polynesian navigator Kupe according to
Maori legend. Islands named Aotearoa, "Land of the Long White Cloud".


12C

Settlement of the North Island.


13 and 14C

"Great Migration" from the Society Islands. Dwindling moa population.
Warrior society established.
1642

Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovers west coast of the South Island. Dutch
name the country "Nieuw Zeeland" after the Dutch island province of
Zeeland.


1769-70

Captain James Cook circumnavigates and charts both islands, taking
possession of "New Zealand" for Britain.
1820s

First European settlement (in the Bay of Islands).


1830s

Intertribal wars abate due to introduction of musket and wholesale
slaughter.


1840

Treaty of Waitangi signed. Maoris cede sovereignty to Britain, obtain
guarantees of land ownership and "rights and privileges of British
subjects."


1850-1880

"Wool period" with importation of sheep from Australia. Also a period of
war and conflict over land ownership.


1882

Refrigerated ships introduced. Farmers turn to meat and dairy production.


1893

New Zealand becomes the first country in the world to give women the vote.
1907

Independence from UK.


1914-1918

One of every three men between 20 and 40 killed or wounded fighting for
Britain in World War I.


1939

New Zealand sends troops to fight for the Allies in Europe.


1941-45

Threatened by Japan, defended by United States Navy (eventually led to
ANZUS pact in 1951, a defensive alliance with the U.S. and Australia).


1947

New Zealand becomes independent by adopting Statue of Westminster.


1973

Britain joins European Economic Community and adopts their trade barriers
to New Zealand's agricultural products. Combined with high oil prices, this
was enough to devastate the economy.


1973-1984

Robert Muldoon's National Party expands welfare state and government
interventionism, running huge budget deficits financed with overseas money.
High inflation and unemployment cause massive emigration to Australia.


1975

Treaty of Waitangui Act passed to settle Maori land claimson the basis of
original treaty.


1984

New Labour government eliminates agricultural subsidies and wage and price
controls, lowers tax rates, begins a radical program of privatization.


1985

The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior from Greenpeace in Auckland by French
secret service agents. One man was killed (Fernando Pereira).

Economy

Since  1984  the  government  has  been  reorienting  an  agrarian   economy
dependent on a guaranteed British market to  an  open  free  market  economy
that can compete on the global scene. The government had hoped that  dynamic
growth would boost real incomes, reduce inflationary pressures,  and  permit
the expansion of welfare benefits. The results have  been  mixed:  inflation
is  down  from  double-digit  levels,  but  growth  has  been  sluggish  and
unemployment, always a highly sensitive issue, has exceeded  10%  since  May
1991. In 1988, GDP fell by 1%, in 1989 grew by  a  moderate  2.4%,  and  was
flat in 1990-91. Current (1994) growth is around 2-4% and rising.
The economy is based on agriculture (particularly dairy products, meat,  and
wool (68 m sheep,  2  m  dairy  cows)),  food  processing,  wood  and  paper
products,  textiles,  machinery,  transportation  equipment,   banking   and
insurance, tourism, mining. Fish catch reached a  record  0.5  m  tonnes  in
1988. Highly dependent on external trade, New Zealand  is  currently  trying
to move from being a primary to a secondary producer.
Currency

Decimal system based on New Zealand dollar, with cent  denominations.  Coins
are 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, 1 and 2 dollars. Notes are 5, 10, 20,  50,  and
100 dollars. Major credit cards are accepted widely.
Stockmarket

Same as overseas.
Interest Rates
Fluctuating between 6 and 8% depending on overseas markets.
Taxes

New Zealand operates a Goods and Services Tax of 12.5 per cent on ALL  goods
and services sold and this is usually included in  the  display  price.  The
exceptions are purchases at duty free shops. Visitors cannot  claim  refunds
on this tax however when a supplier agrees to  export  a  major  item  to  a
visitors home address then GST will not be  charged  on  the  goods  or  the
freight.
Income tax 24% on first $30,874/year, 33% for every $ above this. There  are
various  rebates  for  things  like  low   incomes,   children,   donations,
Housekeeper, Home/Farm/Vessel Ownbership, and others.
|Government Revenue Source|How it was expected to be  |
|(1990)                   |spent (1990)               |
|Income Tax       |$16,95|Education         |$3,912.|
|Gost and Service |0     |Health            |5      |
|Tax              |$5,500|Transport         |$3,791.|
|Other Direct     |      |Administration    |1      |
|Taxes            |$360  |Development of    |$711.6 |
|Excise Duties    |$1,670|Industry          |$2,769.|
|Highway tax      |      |Government        |0      |
|Other Indirect   |$670  |Borrowing         |$1,231.|
|Tax              |$790  |Foreign Relations |3      |
|                 |      |Social Services   |$575.1 |
|                 |      |                  |$1,733.|
|                 |      |                  |7      |
|                 |      |                  |$10,292|
|                 |      |                  |.1     |
|Total            |$25,94|Total             |$25,016|
|                 |0     |                  |.4     |


Life in General

Business Hours

Banks 9:00am to 4:30pm - can vary  slightly.  Otherwise,  Monday  to  Friday
9:00am to 5:30pm. Late night for shopping  is  either  Thursday  or  Friday.
Changes to the Shop Trading Hours Act means that most  shops  are  open  for
longer hours than this. Almost all are open Saturday morning, many are  open
on Sunday with some shops and markets remaining open later during the week.
Automatic teller machines are widely available including a  system  in  many
supermarkets and petrol stations called EFTPOS where you can buy goods  with
your card and a PIN number and/or  obtain  cash.  All  international  credit
cards are accepted in New Zealand. Travellers  cheques  can  be  changed  in
banks, hotels, stores, etc.

There is no restriction on the amount  of  foreign  currency  which  may  be
brought into or taken from New Zealand. Funds may be in  the  form  of  bank
notes, coins,  travellers  cheques  or  any  other  instrument  of  payment.
Visitors may convert surplus New Zealand currency at any  outlet  authorised
to deal in foreign exchange.
Events

Some of the  noteworthy  cultural  events  include:  Summer  City  Programme
(January to February; Wellington) which is a series of festivals around  the
city; Marlborough Food & Wine Festival (2nd  week  in  February;  Blenheim);
International Festival of the  Arts  (February,  even-numbered  years  only;
Wellington), an entire month of national and international  culture;  Golden
Shears Sheep-Shearing Contest (March;  Masterton),  a  must  for  lovers  of
sheep, scat and sweat; and Canterbury  Show  Week  (November;  Christchurch)
which has agricultural exhibits, rides and local entertainment.
Tipping

Tipping is not unheard of in New Zealand. 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's deserved.
Getting There & Away

The overwhelming majority  of  visitors  arrive  by  air.  There  are  three
airports that handle international flights: Auckland (the  major  exit/entry
point), Wellington and Christchurch. Departure tax on international  flights
is NZ$20. A few cruise ships visit New Zealand, but  there  are  no  regular
passenger ship services and working your way across the Pacific as  crew  on
a yacht now seems a thing of the past.
Getting Around

Although New Zealand is a compact country and generally easy to get  around,
it makes good sense to fly - especially for the views over the mountains  or
volcanoes. A variety of discounts also makes flying economical. New  Zealand
has two major domestic airlines: Air New Zealand  and  Ansett  New  Zealand.
Several smaller airlines - Mt Cook Airline, Eagle Air and Air Nelson  -  are
partly owned by Air New Zealand and have been grouped together as  `Air  New
Zealand Link'. This network provides thorough coverage of the country.
New Zealand also has an extensive bus network, with the main operator  being
InterCity (servicing both the North Island and South Island). The two  other
major bus operators are Newmans (North Island) and Mt Cook  Landline  (South
Island). Services on main bus routes are frequent (at  least  once  a  day);
unfortunately they can be expensive and slow. A good alternative is  to  use
shuttle bus companies which are smaller, cheaper  and  friendlier  than  the
large bus companies. Some of them  are  designed  to  cater  especially  for
foreign travellers and/or backpackers and have lots of little `extras'  that
make them particularly attractive; other companies, perhaps drawing  on  the
experiences of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, can take you  around  New
Zealand on `alternative' buses which are often an unhurried  way  of  seeing
the country.
Main train routes are few, though train travel is reasonably  quick.  Trains
are modern and comfortable, and the fares are sometimes cheaper  than  those
by bus on the same routes.
Car travel (New Zealanders drive on the left) is recommended  as  the  roads
are good and well signposted and  the  distances  short.  Rentals  of  cars,
motorcycles and campervans  are  popular  with  a  range  of  special  deals
available.
There are  plenty  of  boat  services,  including  the  Interislander  ferry
(operating between Wellington in the North Island and Picton  in  the  South
Island.
And finally, there's always cycling  around  the  country.  Many  travellers
describe New Zealand as a cyclists' paradise: it's clean,  green,  uncrowded
and unspoiled, and there are plenty of places where you  can  camp  or  find
cheap accommodation. Bicycle rental can be daily, weekly or monthly  and  is
inexpensive.
Crime

While it may be `safe' compared to most other countries, serious crime  does
exist here and visitors should take sensible precautions. Always  lock  your
vehicle, and don't leave it in  isolated  locations  for  extended  periods.
Avoid leaving valuables visible in the  car.  Avoid  areas/situations  which
appear unwholesome. The emergency phone number (police, ambulance, fire)  is
111, and ask the operator for the service required (this can  be  used  from
payphones without paying).
Health

New Zealand operates a no-fault accident compensation  scheme  which  covers
residents and  visitors.  Personal  injury  through  accident  entitles  the
injured party  to  compensation  for  reasonable  expenses  related  to  the
accident. Due to abuse, this has been reworked recently and compensation  is
far harder to obtain.
Water Supply
New Zealand cities and towns have good public water. Water is safe to  drink
out of the tap. The water in Christchurch  *is*  totally  untreated  and  is
supposed to be the purist domestic water supply in the world...
In bush walking areas giardia has been  found  so  its  advisable  to  check
before drinking from rivers or streams. Boiling water for  five  minutes  or
more is advised where advice is not available.
Communications

Telephone Country Code = 64
The Telephone is similar to British Telecom style. Uses BT 600 plug (not RJ-
11) Phone line is pins 2 and 5 of the BT 600 plug (RJ-11 is  pins  3  &  4).
Hotels will have  difficulty  in  converting  plugs  styles  but  conversion
cables are available from retailers.
Most New Zealand telephone systems can handle DTMF  tone  dialling.  BEWARE:
New Zealand pulse dialing is the reverse of most countries.  The  digit  are
reversed and so produce different numbers of pulses. The conversion is:
      digit  | # of Pulses

     --------+------------

        0    |    10

        1    |     9

        2    |     8

          [.....]

        8    |     2

        9    |     1

The best solution is to use tone dialing.
Electricity

The normal electricity supply is 230  volts  50  hertz  alternating  current
(AC).
3 pin appliance socket from a viewpoint looking at the wall or a  plug  seen
from the inside as one would while wiring it up.
       phase -----   /     \   ---- neutral

       (or live)

                        | --------- earth

If the wires you have are brown, blue, and green [yellow or white  striped],
then; brown = phase, blue = neutral, green = earth. The  old  code  is  red,
black, green  respectively.  If  you  have  ANY  doubts,  please  consult  a
qualified electrician.
Most hotels will have shaver plugs suitable for all international  appliance
of low power rating, and which will supply 110 and 230  volts.  These  plugs
may be for shavers only.
TV Information
New Zealand runs on PAL G on UHF. This gives  the  same  picture  and  sound
spacing (5.5MHz), but the channel spacing is slightly wider -  the  same  as
that used for 6MHz intercarrier spacing. Standard 50 hertz  field  rate,  25
hertz frame rate. We also use NICAM for stereo tv, rather than  one  of  the
various analogue systems.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the locally-vertical component of the  field  is
in the opposite direction to where it would be an equivalent distance  north
of the equator. This affects the colour convergence of video monitors.  It's
not a *huge* difference, and it  took  computer  companies  until  the  late
1980s' to wake up to the difference and ship different monitor  versions  to
New Zealand, South America,  and  Australia.  Northern  hemisphere  monitors
*work* but the colours won't be as crisp as you'd expect.

North Island

In ancient Maori mythology, the North Island is Te Ika a Maui (the  Fish  of
Maui). According to the story, Maui was fishing with his  brothers  when  he
hooked the North Island from the  ocean.  His  ravenous  brothers,  ignoring
orders not to touch the fish, began gnawing at its flesh, causing  the  fish
to writhe and thresh about - this frenzy of movement is  the  reason  behind
the island's undulant and mountainous landscape.
There  are  snow-fringed  mountains  in   the   Tongariro   National   Park,
exclamatory geysers and bubbling mud pools in Rotorua  and  a  profusion  of
rivers, lakes and streams. But the  North  Island  is  more  than  rips  and
fissures: it has its  share  of  rolling  pastures,  forest-clad  hills  and
stretches of long, sandy beaches. It also  has  New  Zealand's  two  largest
cities - Auckland to the north and the  country's  capital,  Wellington,  to
the south - which are focal points  for  arts  and  entertainment,  historic
buildings, great dining and a variety of accommodation.
Auckland

The largest city in New Zealand, Auckland, is almost enclosed by  water  and
covered in volcanic hills. Auckland has a  spectacular  harbour  and  bridge
(and a fanatical number of yachting enthusiasts) which  has  earned  it  the
sobriquet 'City of Sails'. A magnet for the  people  of  the  South  Pacific
islands, Auckland now has the largest concentration of  Polynesians  in  the
world. Highlights include the Auckland  Museum,  which  houses  a  memorable
display of Maori artefacts  and  culture,  and  Kelly  Tarlton's  Underwater
World & Antarctic Encounter, a unique simulacrum of  ocean  and  exploration
activities.
There is great shopping in the  suburbs  of  Parnell  and  Newmarket,  well-
preserved Victorian buildings in Devonport, Polynesian  handicrafts,  cafes,
restaurants and markets in Ponsonby, panoramic views of the  city  from  the
extinct  volcano  One  Tree  Hill,  and  good  swimming  beaches   including
Kohimarama and Mission Bay.
The Hauraki Gulf off Auckland is dotted  with  islands  such  as  Rangitoto,
Great Barrier and Waiheke, which have affordable accommodation, a number  of
walks  and  diving  possibilities  and,  in  the  case  of  Waiheke  Island,
excellent  art  galleries.  Auckland  is  also  a  good  starting-point  for
visiting the  amazingly  scenic  Coromandel  Peninsula  and  Hauraki  Plains
regions to the south-east.
Northland

Northland is the cradle of both Maori and Pakeha culture: it was  here  that
the Pakeha first made contact with the Maori, the first whaling  settlements
were established and the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.  Often  referred  to
as the 'winterless north'  because  of  its  mild  year-round  temperatures,
Northland has a number of interesting  museums  (Otamatea  Kauri  &  Pioneer
Museum), glorious, blonde beaches  (Ninety  Mile  Beach)  and  diving  spots
(Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, reckoned by  Jacques  Cousteau  to  be
among the top 10 diving sites in  the  world),  historic  towns  (Pahia  and
Waitangi), game fishing (Bay  of  Islands)  and  flora  and  fauna  reserves
(Waipoua Kauri Forest).
Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island at the mouth of the Hauraki Gulf  has  acres  of  long,
white sandy beaches on its eastern shore,  deep-water  sheltered  inlets  on
its western shore, and a rugged spine  of  steep  ridges  running  down  the
centre. The 80,000 hectare preserve has a number  of  walking  tracks  which
combine old logging trails  and  tramways.  Natural  hot  springs,  towering
kauri forests and a serene aura  make  it  a  perfect  escape.  Flights  and
ferries operate from Auckland, 88 km south.
Bay of Plenty
The Bay of Plenty, given its name by Captain Cook in  1769  because  of  the
number of thriving Maori settlements, has a consistently mild climate  year-
round, good beaches and is the home of the kiwi  fruit  -  a  fuzzy,  brown,
sweet-tasting fruit and a major source of export  revenue  for  the  region.
The city of Tauranga offers activities  such  as  jet-skiing,  water-skiing,
windsurfing, parasailing, diving,  surfing,  fishing  and  harbour  cruises.
Across the inlet from Tauranga is Mt Maunganui,  a  popular  holiday  resort
with beaches and saltwater pools. Rotorua, one of the  most  visited  cities
in New Zealand, is famous for its kinetic  thermal  activity  (Whakarewarewa
is the best known site and the location of Pohutu,  an  active  geyser  that
gushes forth every hour), a large and influential  Maori  population,  trout
springs and wildlife parks.
East Cape
The East Cape, as opposed to the Bay of Plenty, is little visited,  but  its
isolation belies an  area  endowed  with  native  forest,  wild  coasts  and
picturesque bays, inlets and coves. During the summer, the  coastline  turns
vermilion with the explosion of flowers from  the  pohutukawa  trees  lining
the shores.
Cape Runaway

A succession of picturesque bays leads to Whangaparaoa  (Cape  Runaway),  at
the very tip of the East Cape. The beaches are deeply shelved  and  littered
with driftwood, and the old Anglican church, nestled under Norfolk pines  on
a lone promontory, should not be missed. Cape Runaway can  only  be  reached
by foot and it's advisable to seek permission before going on private land.
Central North Island
Hamilton, New Zealand's largest inland city, is surrounded by  some  of  the
world's richest dairy farming and agricultural regions.  It  is  a  city  of
museums, zoos and parks, and offers river cruises on the Waikato River,  the
country's longest (425 km). Further south is the  region  of  King  Country,
once the stronghold of powerful Maori chiefs. The town of Waitomo is  famous
for its limestone caves and subterranean  black-water  rafting  (a  wetsuit,
caver's helmet, inner tube and abundant courage  are  all  that's  required)
while Te Kuiti, named after  the  belligerent  Maori  leader  Te  Kooti,  is
recognised as 'the shearing capital of the world'.  Even  further  south  is
Taumaranui, which makes a good base for kayaking,  rafting  and  jet-boating
on the Whanganui River.
The west coast  region  of  Taranaki  is  dominated  by  Mt  Taranaki  (also
officially known as Mt Egmont), a dormant volcano rising 2518 metres.  Other
highlights in Taranaki include the Egmont National  Park  and  the  region's
world-class surfing and windsurfing beaches.  New  Zealand's  largest  lake,
and the geographical centre of the  North  Island,  is  Lake  Taupo.  Dotted
around its shores are  towns  with  cheap  accommodation  and  great  dining
possibilities (trout is a speciality). Nearby are the spectacular  Tongariro
and Whanganui national parks; the former is  renowned  for  its  ski  slopes
while the latter has  several  excellent  walking  tracks  and  recreational
water activities on the Whanganui River. East of the national parks  is  the
Art Deco city of Napier, with its splendid weather and beautiful beaches.
Wellington

The capital city of New Zealand,  Wellington,  is  situated  on  a  splendid
harbour at the southern tip of the  North  Island.  Often  maligned  by  its
northern counterparts for its ill-tempered weather - the winds are often  of
gale-force calibre in winter - Wellington is a lively city  of  culture  and
arts (with festivals almost every month), and great ethnic  restaurants  and
cafes. It is also home to the country's government and  national  treasures.
Buildings of interest include: the modernist Beehive (the executive wing  of
Parliament); the old Government Building  (one  of  the  largest  all-wooden
buildings  in  the  world);  the  National   Library   (housing   the   most
comprehensive collection  of  books  in  the  country);  and  the  Katherine
Mansfield Memorials (the property  where  the  famous  author  was  born  in
1888). In addition, there are museums, a zoo and stunning views of the  city
from atop  Mt  Victoria.  Cuba  Street  has  great  shopping,  Thorndon  has
historic sites of interest, Lambton Quay is the primary business street  and
Mt Victoria is the place to go for cheap accommodation and dining.

South Island

The  South  Island  crams  in  glaciers,  fiords,  turbulent  rivers,  trout
streams, rainforests, mossy beech forests, palmy beaches  and  a  number  of
mountains that top 3000 metres - a  repertoire  to  inspire  even  the  most
sluggish arms, legs and lungs. It's an island where you  can  fish,  paddle,
pedal, raft, hike and walk in some of the most gorgeous scenery on earth.
Most journeys begin in postcard-perfect Picton, where  the  ferry  from  the
North Island arrives, or Christchurch, a city under the delusion that it  is
somewhere in southern England. From either of these  points,  you  can  make
your way to any number of attractions: the labyrinth  of  tributaries  known
as the Marlborough Sounds; nearby Nelson, a city famous for  its  wines  and
succulent seafood; Mount Cook National Park,  where  New  Zealand's  tallest
peaks are found; Queenstown, nestled beneath the saw-toothed  peaks  of  The
Remarkables; and, further south, the reserves of podocarp forests and  fauna
found in the Catlins. The people, much like the weather and topography,  are
robust. The roads are excellent for a self-drive holiday.
Marlborough Sounds
The convoluted waterways of the Marlborough  Sounds,  formed  when  the  sea
invaded a series of river valleys after the ice  ages,  are  home  to  bays,
islands and coves. Separated by forested knuckles of  land  that  rise  from
the sea, the Sounds are an exhilarating place with activities  such  as  sea
kayaking and white-water rafting and interesting wildlife that includes  sea
gannets, tuatara lizards (relics from the dinosaur  age),  even  carnivorous
snails! There are also great walks, including the  Queen  Charlotte  Walkway
(a 58-km track among lush forest) and the Abel Tasman Coastal Track  in  the
Abel Tasman National Park (220 sq km  of  beaches,  sea  coves,  forest  and
granite gorges).
Wine, good food and a climate conducive to year-round activity are  features
of the towns of Nelson, Picton and Blenheim. The crayfish from Kaikoura  are
superb but it is  a  town  famous  for  much  larger  fry  -  sperm  whales.
Whalewatch and dolphin swimming tours are manifold and inexpensive.
West Coast
Wild, craggy and desolate, the West Coast is an area buffeted by heavy  seas
and drenching rain. Keri Hulme, the Booker Prize winner,  calls  the  region
home,  drawing  inspiration  from  its  'bleak  and  ascetical'   landscape.
Understandably, those who live here - commonly known as `Coasters' -  occupy
a unique place in the national folklore.  Activities  include  canoeing  and
riding the rapids down Moeraki River, fishing for brown trout in the  lakes,
watching penguins and fur  seals  lazing  on  the  greenstone  beaches,  and
squelching through forests (which are much to the liking  of  the  rapacious
ringtail possum).
Harihari

Harihari, a small town on the West Coast,  made  world  headlines  in  1931,
when Guy Menzies completed the first solo flight across the Tasman Sea  from
Australia. The journey was hassle-free but the landing  proved  a  disaster:
the aircraft overturned in a swamp,  and  Menzies,  on  undoing  his  safety
straps, fell - much to the delight of the cheering locals - head first  into
the mud. The town is now known as a base  for  coastal  walks,  birdwatching
and trout and salmon fishing.
Westland National Park
The Westland National Park has over 60 glaciers, with  the  most  accessible
being the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef  Glacier:  you  can  almost  hear  the
strangulated groans, tweaks and gurgles as  they  slowly  advance  down  the
mountainside. The  town  of  Greymouth  is  the  western  terminal  for  the
passenger train TranzAlpine Express, which winds its way over  the  Southern
Alps - through  beech  forests,  glacial  valleys  and  mountains  -  on  to
Christchurch.
Canterbury

The hub of the South Island, Canterbury is one of the  driest  and  flattest
areas of  New  Zealand.  The  predominant  feature  of  the  region  is  the
capacious Canterbury Plains, situated between the  coast  and  the  mountain
foothills, which is devoted to farming and agriculture.
Paradoxically, Canterbury contains most of New Zealand's  highest  mountains
such as Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. The area's major city is  Christchurch  which
has genteel, sylvan suburbs, up-market eateries and cafes, and  is  home  to
the Wizard, a Rabelaisian  figure  who  dominates  lunchtime  discussion  in
Cathedral Square. Gently steering its course through the  city  and  suburbs
is the ankle-deep, willow-lined Avon River - perfect for punting.
To the east of Christchurch is  the  feral  coastline  of  Banks  Peninsula,
dominated by gnarled volcanic peaks; it is also the location  of  Lyttelton,
which  has  excellent  arts  and  crafts  stores.  A  good  day  trip   from
Christchurch is to the Frenchified town of  Akaroa  which  boasts  the  best
fish & chips in the country. West  of  Christchurch  is  the  settlement  of
Arthurs Pass, which is a great base for tackling walks,  climbs  and  skiing
in Arthurs Pass National Park. To the south lie  the  picturesque  towns  of
Geraldine  and  Fairlie,  the  high,  tussock-grass  plateau  known  as  the
Mackenzie Country and the World Heritage  Area  that  is  Mt  Cook  National
Park.  The  imperious  Mt  Cook  (3755  metres)  is  the  highest  peak   in
Australasia, and offers plenty of walks and unlimited  scope  for  tramping,
rock climbing, lung-cleansing and sightseeing.
Copland Pass
The gruelling four-day Copland Pass trek in the Mt Cook National Park  is  a
once-in-a-lifetime adventure that can only be completed in good  weather  by
well-prepared, experienced teams or with professional  guides.  The  terrain
varies from glaciers and snowfields to rainforest  and  thermal  pools.  The
pass is 2150 metres high and is surrounded  by  dramatic  3000-metre  peaks.
This is no stroll and should only be attempted  by  professional  masochists
experienced in the use of  ice  axes,  crampons  and  alpine  route-finding.
Apparently the sense of achievement in crossing the  pass  entitles  you  to
enter an elite club of euphoric high-achievers.
Queenstown

Queenstown, set in a glacial valley on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, is a  town
synonymous with hairy adventures: parasailing; schussing down icy rapids  in
jet boats; white-water  rafting;  and  bungy  jumping  off  Skippers  Canyon
Bridge - the latest and most terrifying stunt is plunging 300 metres from  a
helicopter.
Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park,  which  takes  its  name  from  its  glacier-carved
coast, is a wilderness of mountains,  ice  and  beech  forests.  The  scenic
climax of Fiordland is undoubtedly Milford Sound where cruise ships bob toy-
like beneath the shadows of towering mountains  and  waterfalls.  There  are
classic  alpine  walks,  including  the  Routeburn  Track  (in  Mt  Aspiring
National Park), the Hollyford Valley and the Milford Track  (billed  as  the
'finest in the world').
Otago Peninsula
Otago Peninsula is  a  significant  wildlife  area  with  woodland  gardens,
albatross, penguin and seal colonies, plus aquariums, museums  and  historic
sites. Dunedin, a student city on the peninsula,  is  a  hub  for  arts  and
entertainment,  and  is  famous  for   producing   an   eclectic   pool   of
internationally successful rock bands. Scottish to its core, the city has  a
rich architectural heritage with many museums, galleries and castles.
Southland
There are a series of huge lakes in the area,  including  Hawea  and  nearby
Wanaka in Otago, and Lake Te Anau in Southland. Te Anau,  gouged  out  by  a
huge glacier, is New Zealand's second largest lake and features  caves  full
of glow worms, and waterfalls  and  whirlpools.  The  Catlins,  the  largest
remaining area of native forest on the east coast of the  South  Island,  is
between Invercargill and Dunedin. It has reserves  of  rarefied  plants  and
trees, plus fauna such as fur seals, sea lions, penguins and ducks.
Stewart Island
New Zealand's third largest island, Stewart  Island  is  an  ornithologist's
delight: tuis, parakeets, kakas, bellbirds,  fernbirds  and  robins  abound.
The kiwi, rare in both the North and South Island, is common  over  much  of
the island, particularly around beaches. A good network  of  walking  tracks
and huts exist in  the  northern  part  of  the  island  but  the  south  is
forgettable, being undeveloped and isolated. The people  (a  paltry  450  in
all) are hardy, taciturn and  suspicious  of  mainlanders,  the  weather  is
changeable and the accommodation is basic; there  are,  however,  excellent-
value homestays on the island.



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