|Capital||Wellington, the southernmost national capital in the world|
|Independence||1947 (from UK, upon its adoption of the 1931 Statute of Westminster)|
|National holiday, Waitangi Day||Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand, 6 February 1840|
|Currency||New Zealand dollar (NZD)|
|Area||268,680 sq km|
|Ethnic Groups||New Zealand European 74.5%, Maori 9.7%, other European 4.6%, Pacific Islander 3.8%, Asian and others 7.4%|
|Religions||None 40%, Anglican 17%, Roman Catholic 14%, Presbyterian 11% (2002)|
|Official languages||English, Maori and New Zealand sign language|
|Time Zone||UTC +12|
New Zealand is a temperate island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. A former British colony, the majority of the population is of European descent, with a sizeable indigenous Maori minority and smaller minorities of various Polynesian and other groups. A modern but sparsely populated country, it boasts natural beauty and a wide range of outdoor and adventure activities.
It was named God's Own Country as far back as the 1880s and travellers generally agree it deserves that description. Lonely Planet named New Zealand the world's top travel destination for the second year running (2003/2004), and it was voted best long-haul travel destination in the 2004 Guardian and Observer�s People�s Choice award. It has won the award in three out of the past four years.
New Zealand consists of two main islands and a number of smaller ones. The regions are listed roughly north to south. These regions are not necessarily official local government Regions.
- (The) North Island � warm, with scenery ranging from sandy beaches, through rolling farmland and forests to active volcanic peaks.
- Auckland Region
- Bay of Plenty
- Volcanic Plateau
- East Cape
- Hawkes Bay
- (The) South Island � spectacular alps and fiords, large beech forests, beautiful beaches.
- Golden Bay
- Stewart Island � heavily forested, a wilderness paradise for hikers and hunters.
- Chatham Islands
- Sub-Antarctic Islands
- Ross Dependency
- Other Islands
From North to South:
- Whangarei �
- Auckland � The largest and most populated NZ city and the largest city in Hamilton � The city in the Waikato is an hour and a half south of Auckland.
- Rotorua � Famous for geysers and hot pools�and that funny sulphuric smell (smells like eggs!)
- Napier and Hastings � Art Deco and wine in the sunny Hawkes Bay.
- New Plymouth �
- Wanganui �
- Palmerston North �
- Wellington � The national capital � home of the Parliament and the Beehive. The Windy City.
- Nelson � Sunny.
- Kaikoura � The place where the whales live.
- Christchurch � The Garden City. Where the famous 'Wizard' lives and appears every week, by the church, in the square!
- Queenstown � Home to a large portion of the adventure sports in NZ.
- Dunedin � The Edinburgh of the South. Proud of its Scots heritage and chocolate factory.
- Invercargill � The most southerly city in New Zealand.
- Bay of Islands � North Island, nice scenery.
- Kerikeri � Charming historic town in the bay. Bring your camera.
- Lake Taupo, Mount Ruapehu and Tongariro National Park.
- The West Coast of the South Island and Westland National Park
- The Southern Alps stretch the length of the South Island.
- Aoraki Mount Cook � New Zealand's highest mountain.
- Omarama � World famous gliding destination. Scenic alpine glider flights and pilot training
- Queenstown � Adventure capital of the world� skydive, bungee-jump, thrill yourself to your hearts content.
- Milford Sound and Fiordland.
New Zealand was the last significant land mass to be inhabited by people, both in terms of indigenous settlement and European domination. This, combined with geological youth and geographical isolation, has led to the development of a young, vigorous nation with a well-travelled, well-educated population and some spectacular scenery, flora and fauna.
The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about 800 AD. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, in 1642, was the first European to discover New Zealand, and his mapped coastline appeared on Dutch maps as "Nieuw Zeeland" from as early as 1645. British naval Captain James Cook rediscovered, circumnavigated and mapped the islands in 1769. A few people (mostly sealers, whalers, traders and missionaries) settled during the next 80 years and the islands were administered by the British colony in New South Wales.
In 1840, with the assistance of missionaries, the Maori agreed to accept British sovereignty over the islands through the Treaty of Waitangi. More intensive settlement began that same year. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872, coupled with political maneuvering and the spread of European diseases, broke Maori resistance to land settlement, but left lasting grievances. In recent years the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances, and this is a complicated process. Some New Zealanders are opposed to what they see as giving free money to the Maori, as they question the validity of land claims. Views about these claims vary to a large extent within both the Maori and European populations.
The British colony of New Zealand became a dominion in 1907. It was offered complete independence under the 1931 Statute of Westminster, although it didn't adopt this until 1947. However the Constitution of Australia permits New Zealand to join as another Australian state. New Zealand supported Britain (the United Kingdom) militarily in the Boer War of 1899�1902, as well as both World Wars. It also participated in wars in Malaya, Korea and Viet Nam under various military alliances, most notably the ANZUS treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
New Zealand's strongly supported opposition to the testing and use of nuclear weapons and nuclear armed warship visits meant that the Parliament enacted anti-nuclear legislation in the mid-1980s. This lead to the lapsing of participation in the ANZUS defence alliance. The New Zealand military continues to take a prominent role in UN-sanctioned peacekeeping forces worldwide.
New Zealand is also known by the Maori name of Aotearoa, which is usually translated as "(Land of the) long white cloud".
New Zealand consists of two main islands and many smaller ones in the South Pacific Ocean approximately 2000 km southeast of Australia. It is about the size of the United Kingdom with a population that has just reached four million, so many areas are sparsely settled.
Auckland, the largest city (about one million) is the largest city in Wellington. The winds seem to be stronger around the time of the equinox. In the winter, southerly gales can be severe but they also bring snow to the ski-fields and are usually followed by calm clear days.
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Many movies and television series have been filmed in New Zealand. Some of the more notable examples are listed below:
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001�03) � numerous locations throughout the country
- Whale Rider (2003) � the North Island's East Coast
- The Last Samurai (2003) � Taranaki
- The Piano (1993) � west coast of the Auckland region
- The Quiet Earth (1987) � Hamilton University , Warkworth Transmitter Station
- Xena television series � west Auckland region
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) � alpine grassland and glaciers around Flock Hill Station in the Southern Alps near Christchurch, and other places.
- King Kong (2005) � Wellington
Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. The main gateways are Auckland and Christchurch, with Auckland servicing more than 20 destinations and a dozen airlines, and direct connections from Christchurch to Australia, Singapore, Tokyo and Los Angeles. All the smaller international airports service flights only to Australia and are limited to B737 or similar size aircraft.
Due to its large expatriate Polynesian and Melanesian communities, New Zealand has more extensive direct flight options to South Pacific nations such as Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands than almost any other country.
Aerolineas Argentina provides a biweekly service direct to Buenos Aires from Auckland, forging a new connection between the two nations.
Both Auckland and Wellington have commuter rail services. These services are operated by Greater Wellington.
Inter-city rail passenger services are operated by Driving in New Zealand and Renting a motorhome in New Zealand.
Buses are a cheap way to get around the country. Companies like InterCity coaches (http://www.intercitycoach.co.nz/) and Newmans coaches (http://www.newmanscoach.co.nz) offer services to most cities and towns. In the South Island there are lots of small bus companies like Atomic Shuttles with more bus connections than InterCity coaches. Do be aware that most roads in New Zealand are quite narrow and winding, and that travelling a long distance in a bus can be quite slow and tiring.
To get your car between the North and South Islands you will need to take a ferry across Cook Strait. There are several sailings daily between Wellington and Picton. But be prepared for a delay or a change in sailings if the weather is stormy.
Harbour ferries, for commuters, operate in Auckland and Wellington. A number of communities are served by boat, rather than road, while charter boats are available for expeditions in several places. There are regular sightseeing cruises in several tourist destinations, particularly in the Southern Lakes and Fiordland area.
For thrills, there is the uniquely New Zealand-designed jet boat. You can even travel on the very rivers that inspired this craft.
You can bring your own bike, as well as hire a bike in some of the larger cities. Throughout New Zealand it is the law to wear a helmet while riding, otherwise you are liable to a fine. When hiring a bike you should be supplied with a helmet.
Riding bikes in New Zealand can be fun, but be aware of (tourist) buses and trucks on main highways as overtaking distances can be slim. You should also be prepared for the large distances between towns and cities and the generally windy weather.
Hitchhiking around New Zealand is generally possible on most inter-city and major rural roads. Avoid motorways and try to get out of the middle of town, especially where public transport operates. Wear your pack and look like you're touring the country rather than just being a local looking for a lift. You have as much chance of being picked up by another tourist as a local, particularly in tourist areas. Usual risk considerations apply, many locals consider it an extreme sport.
New Zealand scenery has long been a major tourist attraction, so spectacular it leaves many lost for words. You need to see it to understand, just describing it is not enough. Mind you, if you have seen some recent movies that were made in New Zealand, you probably have seen it and not realised. Those spectacular landscapes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy are based on New Zealand scenery. Sure they were computer enhanced, but only in places, and the real scenery is still there to be visited. Selected highlights are:
- Fiordland and Milford Sound � they built the road here, including a tunnel under the mountains, just for the tourists.
- Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and with the other Southern Lakes in easy reach.
- Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers � on the West Coast.
- Mount Cook � New Zealand's highest mountain, in the heart of the Southern Alps.
- The Canterbury plains.
- Mount Ruapehu and Lake Taupo, � volcanoes with lakes in them.
- White Island, one of New Zealand's more active volcanoes.
- Bay of Islands, where the Waitangi treaty house can be found and the place where New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed. The copies are now held by the National Archives in Wellington.
- Ninety Mile Beach
Outdoor and adventure activities include:
- Four-wheel driving
- Abseiling Waitomo
- Aerial sightseeing (helicopter and fixed-wing)
- Base jumping (Cable-controlled) [Skytower in Auckland]
- Black water rafting (cave rafting)
- Bungy jumping (Invented here)Queenstown, Auckland, Lake Taupo � the modern bungy jump was invented here by New Zealander Nelson, South Island West Coast, Te Anau
- Cycle touring
- Fishing � trout (some of the finest trout-fishing in the world), salmon, marlin, broadbill, sharks and many other salt-water species
- Fly by wire (invented here)
- Gliding � Omarama is one of the best places in the world for gliding
- Hiking � New Zealand has a number of national parks and other wilderness and forested areas, much of which is managed by the tramping in New Zealand and is a very popular activity for visitors and locals. External link: New Zealand Tramper (http://www.tramper.co.nz/index.cfm/).
- Horse trekking
- Hot-air ballooning
- Hunting � several species of deer, wild pig (wild boar), tahr, chamois, goat, wallabies (they are protected in Australia but a pest here), gamebirds
- Kite surfing
- Luge (on concrete not ice) Queenstown, Rotorua
- Mountaineering � this was the training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two people to climb Mt Everest
- Mountain biking
- Nature tours
- Quad biking
- Rap jumping
- River jetboating � the Hamilton jet was invented by New Zealander William Hamilton
- Sailing � New Zealand has produced many world-champion yachties and is the only country apart from the US to have won and successfully defended yachting's ultimate prize, the Americas Cup
- Scuba diving and snorkelling, especially down to the sunken Rainbow Warrior at Matauri Bay, not far from Kerikeri.
- Sea kayaking [Abel Tasman Marine Reserve]
- Shark cage diving Kaikoura
- Skiing and snowboarding including heli-skiing Queenstown
- Swimming with dolphins Kaikoura, Bay of Islands
- Swimming with seals
- Whale watching Kaikoura
- White water rafting Fox Glacier
- White water sledging / dam dropping
- Zorbing (invented here) Agrodome in Rotorua
There's more but we're exhausted just thinking about it.
English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand. English is by far the major language spoken and is written with Commonwealth ("British") spelling. New Zealand English is considered one of the major varieties of English and is different enough from other forms of English to justify it being classed as a separate dialect, as represented by the publication of the Oxford New Zealand English dictionary. A (seldom-used) expression for New Zealand English is Newzild. Word usage may also differ occasionally, in potentially embarrassing ways for the traveller. Several words that some other English speaking cultures may consider offensive, or have euphemisms for, are considered acceptable usage. For example: A New Zealand bathroom refers to a room containing a bath while the other facilities that an American might refer to as a bathroom or washroom are known as a toilet. The American habit of "bleeping" swear words from broadcasts is considered quaint and rarely done in local programming. The New Zealand broadcasting media is surprisingly tolerant of swear words when used in context.
The New Zealand accent is somewhat nasalised with flattened vowel sounds. New Zealanders consider their accent to be markedly different from the Australian one and are often mildly offended when mistaken for or confused with Australians. New Zealand terminology and slang are also markedly different from Australian language.
Maori is actively spoken by a minority of both Maori and language learners. Maori is available as a language to study in, instead of English, at many educational institutes.
The Maori language is spoken by some, but not all, Maori and a few non-Maori. Many place names are in Maori and for the traveller some knowledge of Maori pronunciation is very useful.
New Zealand Sign language was given status in 2005 as an official language of the country.
See also: Maori phrasebook
Generally, New Zealand English expressions follows British English. However, New Zealand English has also borrowed from Maori and there are a number of other phrases that are not commonly encountered elsewhere or may confuse the visitor.
- Bach (pron. "batch") � Holiday home in New Zealand (often by the beach and comprising of fairly basic accommodation). In the South Island it's often called a crib.
- Bring a plate � means each attendant of the event should bring a plate of food to share with the other guests.
- BYO � Bring Your Own. An addition to the name of a restaurant that has not (or more likely had not) a liquor license. Means that it is perfectly okay to bring your own wine to enjoy with your food, but they often charge a small corkage fee.
- Bugger � Long a common expletive, it gained a certain legitimacy and/or notoriety when used in an amusing and award-winning prime-time TV ad (for Toyota). Used by politicians, on the back of cars, used by many people. Means "Oh bother". Mildly impolite and may offend a few people.
- Dairy � Convenience store; corner shop.
- Entry by gold (or silver) coin (donation) � The admission charge to an event, exhibit, gallery or museum is by making a payment of a coin in the appropriate metal, often in the donation box at the door. The gold coins in NZ are the $1 and $2 coins, while silver are the 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c coins. (See also "Koha" below)
- Ladies a plate � At social functions, such as meetings, attendees are expected to bring a plate carrying ready-to-eat food. Typically the food is home baking of the lady of each attending family or couple attending.
- Claytons � Describing something as a Claytons means that the item lacks full functionality or is a poor imitation of the real thing. From the name of the (unsuccessful) non-alcoholic beer that was briefly marketed during the late 1970s/early 1980s under the catch phrase The drink you're having when you are not having a drink.
- Glidetime � Flexible working hours (or flexitime), often worked by public servants. Under this system, workers can start and finish work at hours of their choosing between 7 am and 6 pm, although they must work the core hours of 9.30 am to Noon and 2 pm to 3.30 pm and average 40 hours per week. Also the name of a comedy play about such workers.
- Public servants � People employed by central government organisations, or enterprises owned by the country's government.
- Social welfare � State operated organisations responsible for child protection services, income assistance and work placement for the unemployed.
- Beneficiary � A person of working age who is receiving state welfare assistance payments known as income support or a benefit.
- Pensioner � Retired person, a superannuitant, or a former soldier receiving a war pension.
- Superannuitants � Retired people in receipt of a state retirement pension known as New Zealand Superannuation. This payment is paid to all citizens over 65 years old.
- Hui � A meeting or gathering to discuss and debate issues in traditional Maori fashion.
- Iwi � A Maori tribe or people, sometimes known as a Waka (canoe), as many iwi are named after the ocean going canoes that brought their ancestors to New Zealand.
- Koha � A Maori term for gifts or donations. Often an exchange of gifts takes place. (Sometimes the admission signs say, "Entry Koha", meaning gold coin or what you feel like donation.)
- Kai � Food.
- Marae � A traditional Maori meeting or gathering place. Also a community centre.
- Pakeha � The Maori word for European New Zealanders, generally thought to have arisen from a Maori story about white creatures called 'pakepakeha'. Some European New Zealanders do not refer to themselves as Pakeha, while others see the name as part of their unique identity.
- Powhiri � A Maori ceremonial welcome. Especially to a marae, but now also may take place at the start of a conference or similar large meeting in New Zealand.
- Whanau � A Maori (extended) family. Kinfolk.
- Wharenui � The meeting house (literally big house) on a marae.
- Wharekai � The dining room and/or kitchen (literally food house) on a marae.
The New Zealand Dollar is used for purchasing goods and services in New Zealand. A few traders do accept foreign currency, particularly in tourist destinations. In January 2006 the conversion from US dollars to NZ dollars was approximately 1USD=1.45NZD.
New Zealanders are amongst the highest users of electronic banking services in the world. ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) are available in most towns, even if they do not have a bank. Most shops do have Eftpos (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) terminals for debit and credit cards, so most purchases can be made electronically. Credit cards are not accepted by some merchants with Eftpos, especially smaller food retailers such as dairies, takeaways and cafes that do not serve alcohol. Also smaller retailers may often set a minimum purchase of around $10 when obtaining cash, if they agree to provide cash. Banks offer a wide range of telephone and internet banking services. If you are going to be in New Zealand for a while it may be convenient to open a New Zealand bank account and set up a local debit card, to avoid carrying a lot of cash around.
Because of strong advertising laws, the displayed price is normally the purchase price for most goods sold in New Zealand. The principle The price stated is the price you pay is strongly ingrained in New Zealand culture. Most retailers will not negotiate on price, though some have a formal policy of matching (or beating) the competition and will match or even discount their prices for you if you can find a better price for the exact same product elsewhere.
However this idea seems to be coming under attack as more stories about people finding appliance/electronics store very willing to negotiate on price to get your business, especially if you're looking at high-end items or have a laundry list of multiple high-priced items. Some places you have to ask for a discount (they will gladly take full price if you are willing to hand it over), while others have salespeople that offer discounts on pricey goods as soon as they approach you.
Taxes and fees
Unless it says otherwise the price includes GST (Goods and Services Tax, or sales tax) of 12.5%. Some shops, especially in tourist destinations, will ship purchases overseas, as export goods which are not subject to GST. Ask about this service before making your purchase. Goods purchased and taken with you will be subject to GST.
On public holidays, some establishments such as cafes, may charge a holiday surcharge in the region of 10%�20%, supposedly to cover the cost of employing staff who are working on the holiday. This is a recent development because current holiday legislation requires workers who work on public holidays to be paid for the time they work and be given a paid public holiday as well. The legality of this charge is questionable and should be challenged if not advertised openly or notified at the time of placing an order.
In accommodation places, restaurants and bars the prices charged include the services provided and tips are not expected, though the practice is known of in some establishments that cater for tourists. However, do not be surprised if you receive bemused looks in some situations. Also do not be offended if your tip is initially refused or questioned, as most New Zealanders rarely encounter tipping, except from tourists. New Zealanders' unfamiliarity with tipping makes many of them very ill-at-ease with it when travelling in countries where it is practised. It is viewed very negatively by New Zealanders as an alien vulgarity, being made to 'pay twice', or as a form of bribery. Staff in some establishments may risk their job in accepting a tip.
New Zealand has a wide range of eating places, from fast food outlets to stylish restaurants. Many petrol stations have a convenience store with sandwiches or food such as pies that can be microwaved on-site. Fast food chains include KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut and Subway. There are also many independent, owner-operated takeaways outlets selling one or more of burgers, pizzas, fried chicken, Chinese or other Asian fast food or fish and chips. At least a burger bar and/or fish and chip shop can be found in almost any small town or block of suburban shops. The humble fish and chip shop is the archetypical New Zealand fast food outlet. The menu consists of battered fish portions deep fried in oil (or fat) together with chunky cut potato chips (fries but not the McDonald's Shoestrings) as well as a range of other meats, seafood, pineapple rings and even chocolate bars, all wrapped in newsprint paper�today it is unprinted but traditionally it was yesterday's newspaper, until someone decided it was unhealthy. A good meal can often be had for under $5, a bad one for the same price.
New Zealand's cultural majority (ethnic British) does not have a definitive and recognisably distinct cuisine that differs markedly from the traditional British (or North American) cuisine. However there are a number of small differences
- Roast kumara � the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) roasted in the same manner as potatoes and often served instead of or alongside. May also be deep fried like potato chips (i.e. fries) and known as kumara chips � nice served with sour cream but rarely done well as kumara cooks at a different temperature than potatoes, so it needs a skilled chef for the dish to be done perfectly.
- Pavlova, or pav, a cake of whipped egg whites baked to have a crusty meringue-like outside but soft in the middle, topped with whipped cream and decorated with sliced fruit. Australians claim they created the dish but this is strongly disputed.
- ANZAC biscuits � Plain hard biscuits (cookies) made primarily from oatmeal bound with golden syrup. Originally made for and by ANZAC troops during the first world war. Also found in Australia.
- Pies � Unlike Americans, New Zealanders eat large numbers of non-flakey-pastry meat pies containing things like beef, lamb, pork, potato, kumara, vegetables, and cheese.
- Kiwifruit � A plum sized green fleshed fruit, with fine black seeds in the flesh, originating from China, selectively bred in New Zealand, and first known to the home gardener as the Chinese Gooseberry. Now commercially farmed, with production centred on Te Puke but in many orcharding areas. Slices often served on pavlova. Known by its full name of kiwifruit and never shortened to kiwi in New Zealand, as a kiwi is a rare species of bird and is not to be eaten.
- Whitebait � The translucent sprat or fingerlings of native freshwater fish species that migrate from spawning in the sea each year. After being caught in coastal river mouth set or hand nets during November/December, this highly sought after delicacy is rushed to the far ends of the country. Served in a fried pattie made from an egg based batter. May be seasonally available from a local fish and chip shop. Is served without gutting or deheading.
The Maori also have a distinctive cuisine�
- The hangi or earth oven is the traditional way that Maori cook food for large gatherings. Meat, vegetables and sometimes puddings are slowly steam-cooked for several hours in a covered pit that has previously been lined with stones and had a hot wood fire burn down in it.
- Kaimoana (literally: sea food) � particularly shellfish gathered from inter-tidal rocks and beaches as well as crayfish (rock lobster) and inshore fish caught on a line or with nets. Species such as paua (blackfoot abalone) and toheroa have been overfished and gathering restrictions are strictly enforced, while green mussels are commercially grown and sold live, or processed, in supermarkets.
New Zealanders have a reputation for enjoying their beer. Although there are now only two major breweries, there are many regional brands, each with their own distinctive taste and staunch supporters. Watch out for brewery owned pubs, the competition's beer is not sold there.
More recently, the wine industry has developed into a significant export industry. Many vineyards now offer winery tours, wine tasting and sales from the vineyard.
Take care when and where you indulge in public. New Zealand has recently introduced liquor ban areas that means alcoholic drinks cannot be consumed or even carried in some streets, such as city centres and popular beaches, at certain times of the day or night. Police can instruct you to empty bottles and arrest you if you do not comply.
Coffeehouses are a notable daytime socialisation venue in many of the larger cities and tourist destinations. The cafe culture is notable in downtown Wellington, where many office workers have their tea breaks now, following the demise of the office cafeteria during the restructuring of the public service in the 1980s and 1990s.
- Short Black/espresso � a single shot (25 � 30 ml) of thick black coffee
- Long Black � a long (double espresso) equal part hot water, but very strong cup of black
- Flat White � very strong coffee with creamy hot milk and no foam
- Latte � a large cup (double espresso) of very milky coffee with a thin layer of dense foam on top (the foam holds the coffee down)
- Cappuccino � one-third espresso, one-third hot milk and one-third creamy, dense foam. An optional topping of chocolate or cinnamon can be added
- Americano � a Long Black with extra hot water
- Moccaccino � made with hot chocolate instead of milk
- Affogato � a scoop of vanilla ice cream served in a regular size glass with espresso coffee
- Macchiato � two shots of espresso served in a small glass
- Corretto � black espresso with a shot of alcohol
- Vienna � half black with added whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate shavings
In cafes, there is often more than one milk jug which is colour coded; dark blue is normal, light blue is lite and green is super trim.
Bottled water � both flavored and unflavored � is available in most shops. Not that there is anything wrong with the tap water, it is just that some town supplies are drawn from river water and chlorinated. If you do not want to pour your money down the drain, fill your own water bottle from the tap, unless you find it is too heavily chlorinated for your taste. Tap water in places such as Christchurch is not chlorinated at all as it is drawn from the pure artesian aquifers of the Canterbury plains (the same place the bottled water comes from).
L & P or Lemon & Paeroa is "world famous in New Zealand". It is a sweet carbonated lemonade style drink sold in a brown plastic bottle with a yellow label because they used to sell it in brown glass ones (like beer bottles) before they switched to plastic. Generally one for the kids or parties (it mixes quite well with whiskey), though the big bottle in Paeroa itself is a hit with the tourists.
New Zealand offers a wide range of accommodation.
International quality hotels can be found in the major cities. And New Zealanders seem to have perfected the art of the top-end homestay. Hosted luxury lodges are the top-end equivalent of the bed-and-breakfast market and New Zealand has upwards of 40 internationally recognised lodges. Per capita, that's probably the highest in the world. They tend to be situated away from cities, though some are right in the heart of the major centres, and can be difficult to get to. At the very top-end, helicopter transfers and private jets help the luxury traveller move between the lodges they've chosen for their visit�
Motels of a variety of standards from luxury to just adequate can be found on the approaches to most towns. There is a wide range of backpackers accommodation around the country, including a network of Youth Hostels that are members of the Youth Hostels Association (http://yha.org.nz/) (62 in 2004), as well as homestays, farmstays and similar lodgings�some in the most unlikely places. Many will accept a casual traveller, though booking ahead is generally a good idea, especially in the summer, or on weekends, or when there is a big match in town, or anytime really. For uniquely New Zealand accommodation, there are Maori homestays and tourist-catering marae stays.
There are a number of commercial camping grounds around the country, as well as camping sites within all of the national parks. One way that many tourists travel around New Zealand is in a self-contained campervan, a motorised caravan or large minibus, that can be driven by anyone who holds an ordinary car driver's license.
If you are travelling into the backcountry, the Department of Conservation has many backcountry huts that can be used under a permit system.
Free camping is also available in many places. Unless there is a "no camping" sign it's common to find a tent or hammock pitched for the night in many picnic areas or in a grove of trees off the road. Cycle tourists especially will rarely need to pay for camping, only for showers and laundry. Multi-day camping in these areas is often frowned upon, and in conservation areas camping outside designated areas may attract a fine.
For many years, New Zealand schools and universities have educated foreign students from the countries of Southeast Asia and education has now become a major source of export earnings for the country. In recent years English language schools have been established for students from the region, particularly South Korea and China, but also many other countries.
Education in New Zealand is compulsory from age 6 to 16 years, though most children begin attending school at age 5 and often stay at school for 13 years, until 18 or 19 years old. Primary schooling is from years 1 to 6, intermediate schooling is years 7 and 8, while secondary schooling is from years 9 to 13. In some schools the intermediate years may be combined with either the primary or secondary years.
Primary, intermediate and secondary compulsory schooling is free for citizens and permanent residents, although some nominal fees are generally charged to cover consumable materials. Tertiary education is state assisted, with part of the tuition costs funded by the state. International students will need to pay for their education; in some cases this includes a national profit margin.
The Ministry of Education has established a Code of Practice that New Zealand educational institutions enrolling international students need to abide by. This Code of Practice includes minimum standards for the pastoral care of international students. Primary school students, or those age 10 or under, need to either live with a parent or else board in a school hostel. Additionally, older students, who are under age 18, may live in homestays, temporary accommodation or with designated caregivers. Where the institution arranges accommodation for students older than age 18 the code of practice applies to their accommodation situations also.
New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and refugees can receive financial assistance, through loans and allowances, to pay the tuition fees and to attend tertiary education at Universities, Polytechnics, Whananga (Maori operated universities/polytechnics) and Private Training Providers. Overseas students will need to pay the full tuition fees and their own living costs while studying at a New Zealand institution.
Overseas students need to have a student visa in order to undertake a course of study at a New Zealand based educational institution. Visas are generally valid for the duration of the course of study and only while the student is attending the course of study. New Zealand educational institutions will inform the appropriate immigration authorities if a student ceases to attend their enrolled courses, who may then suspend or cancel that student's visa. Educational institutions often also exchange this enrollment and attendance data electronically with other government agencies responsible for providing student assistance.
To work in New Zealand you need to be a citzen or current permanent resident of either New Zealand or Australia, or else have a work permit or appropriate visa. If you are intending to work in New Zealand you should obtain a work permit along with any tourist visas you might apply for.
You will also need to have a New Zealand bank account, as most employers pay using electronic banking rather than in cash; an Inland Revenue Tax Number, as witholding tax or income tax will be deducted from your wages by your employer; and a tax declaration form, as tax will be deducted at the no declaration rate of 45% unless you have a tax code. More information about New Zealand's tax system, including appropriate forms, can be obtained from Inland Revenue (http://www.ird.govt.nz).
New Zealand operates a simplified tax system that tends to collect more tax than people need to pay because employers pay their worker's tax when they pay their workers. The obligation is then on the worker to claim overpaid tax back, rather than declaring their income and paying any extra tax. Be careful though, if you choose to work in New Zealand and you stay more than 183 days in any 12-month period, your worldwide income could be taxed. New Zealand has double taxation agreements with several countries to stop tax being paid twice.
New Zealand is currently (2005) experiencing a period of full employment. A number of employers are having difficulties finding workers, particularly short term workers.
Seasonal work such as fruit picking and other agricultural work is sometimes available for tourists such as backpackers. More information about seasonal fruit picking work can be found at Pick NZ (http://www.picknz.co.nz/).
New Zealand has a number of reciprocal Working Holiday Schemes, which allow people between 18 and 30 to travel and work in New Zealand for up to one year and vice versa. At present young citizens of a number of countries from Europe, South America, North America and Asia can apply. These schemes are enormously popular and in many instances participants can apply to stay in New Zealand longer once they have completed their one year stay. Information on all the various schemes and application details can be found at: http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/work/workingholiday/
If you are wanting to stay in New Zealand long term, you should apply well ahead of time. New Zealand operates a points system for assessing applicants.
New Zealand will accept refugees, though applications should be made beforehand as the country has a formal refugee induction programme. Those who turn up in a New Zealand airport arrival lounge without papers, claiming refugee status, may find themselves put on a return flight to their country of origin or in jail awaiting the outcome of legal proceedings.
The emergency telephone number in New Zealand is 111. Ambulance, Fire and Police can be contacted through this service. Full instructions are on the inside front cover of every telephone book.
Crime and security
While difficult to make international comparisons, the level of crime in New Zealand is similar to many other western countries. Dishonesty offences, such as theft, are by far the most frequent type of crime. Travellers should take simple, sensible precautions such as putting valuables away out of sight or in a secure place and locking doors or vehicles, even in remote locations, as much of this crime is opportunist in nature. Violent crime is generally associated with alcohol and illicit drug consumption and rowdy bars or drunken crowds in city centres are best avoided, especially late at night.
The Police, a national force, are generally polite and helpful but will promptly arrest anyone making trouble. Being caught drinking and driving will result in an arrest and Police regularly conduct blitzes, often setting up screening checkpoints all around an area, even doing this on motorways. Fixed and mobile speed cameras as well as hand held and car speed detectors are used at random, anywhere � anytime. Police have no discretion for speeding offences and will write tickets for all vehicles caught exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 km/h. Police have recently upgraded their Pursuit training, following a number of deaths of both offenders and innocent third parties during vehicle pursuits.
In New Zealand, Armed Police are a media event! Although all Police officers are trained to handle firearms, these are normally only openly worn when the situation requires such weapons, such as an armed offender. Traditionally, New Zealand Police only carry batons and offender control (pepper) spray. However, first response Police patrols will generally have recourse to weapons locked away in their vehicle.
Severe weather is by far the most common natural hazard encountered in New Zealand. Although New Zealand is not subject to tropical cyclones as such, stormy weather systems from both the tropics and the polar regions can sweep across New Zealand at various times of the year. There is generally a 7 to 10 day cycle of a few days of wet or stormy weather followed by calmer and drier days as weather systems move across the country. The phrase four seasons in one day is a good description of New Zealand weather, which has a reputation for both changeability and unpredictability. Weather forecasts in New Zealand are generally reliable for overall trends and severe weather warnings should be heeded when broadcast. However both the timing and intensity of any weather events should be assessed from your own location. Simply looking out the window is probably good enough to allow you yourself to predict what the weather will be like for at least the next 15 minutes or so, according to one eminent New Zealand meterologist.
Other natural hazards you may encounter in New Zealand, though far more rarely are:
- Strong Earthquakes � New Zealand sits astride a tectonic plate boundary and experiences large numbers (~14,000/year) of small earthquakes every year, a few (~200/year) are noticeable and the occasional one causes damage and sometimes loss of life. However, the last big one causing serious loss of life was at Napier in 1931. The latest quake is reported by Mount Ruapehu and White Island have been active recently. Volcanic activity is monitored by guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!