The one minute summary on

New Zealand photo

Photo by paul bica

This is it: one minute to the best info on New Zealand. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting New Zealand, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.

The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about A.D. 800. In 1840, their chieftains entered into a compact with Britain, the Treaty of Waitangi, in which they ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria while retaining territorial rights.

That same year, the British began the first organized colonial settlement. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the defeat of the native peoples. The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the UK militarily in both world wars. New Zealand’s full participation in a number of defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.

That was it. I promised one minute.

For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.

  1. Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in  New Zealand
  2. Does my current phone work in  New Zealand ? Tips to cell phone usage in  New Zealand
  3. Local food you should try in  New Zealand and No miss drinks in  New Zealand

Now, cheers to the most New Zealand aware person at the cocktail party.

What are the key history moments for New Zealand?

New Zealand was the last significant land mass on earth to be settled by humans. East Polynesians reached New Zealand about 700 years ago in a series of tremendous oceanic canoe voyages to begin settlement of what was to become New Zealand – some 46,000 years after Australia. Their populations grew rapidly and led to the extinction of many unique species of flightless birds, including all 9 species of Moa, some of which grew to about 3.6 m (12 ft) in height with neck outstretched and weighed about 230kg (510 lb) ! Over time their culture in these colder lands diverged into the unique M?ori that the artists of Captain Cook recorded.

Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, in 1642, was the first non-Polynesian to sight the North West coast of the South Island of New Zealand.(There is a claim, disputed by most historians, that a Portuguese expion led by Cristovao de Mendonça beat him to it over a hundred years before in 1521-1524). Tasman named his find Staten Landt (on the assumption that it was connected to Staten Island, Argentina at the south of the tip of South America) and this appeared on maps from as early as 1645.

New Zealand history photo

Photo by Jocey K

His two ships stopped to take on fresh water in Golden Bay, but were attacked by M?ori and four of his men and several M?ori were killed there – causing him to name it “Murderer’s Bay”. Leaving the South Island by sailing up the west coast of the North Island, he mapped a small portion of the coastline; Dutch cartographers re-named this known part as Nova Zeelandia. As part of a dedicated voyage of scientific discovery, Yorkshireman James Cook, a Captain of the Royal Navy, circumnavigated the North, South and Stewart islands in 1769 and charted their coasts. A few people of European and US origin, mostly sealers, whalers, traders and missionaries, settled during the next 80 years, some taking local wives. In 1840, with the assistance of missionaries, M?ori signed different versions of the Treaty of Waitangi and there have been arguments as to the meaning of the cod Maori version ever since. More intensive European (P?keh?) settlement began that same year. Initially annexed to the colony of New South Wales, New Zealand was split off to form a separate colony in 1841.

A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872, coupled with political maneuvering and the spread of European diseases, broke M?ori resistance to P?keh? land settlement, but left lasting grievances. In recent years the government has sought to address long standing M?ori grievances, but this is a complicated and rancorous process. In 2005, the M?ori Party was formed, in part in response to the Government’s law on the Foreshore and Seabed but also to promote an independent M?ori perspective at a political level.

When the six British colonies federated to form Australia in 1901, New Zealand decided not to join the federation. Instead, the British colony of New Zealand became a self-governing dominion in 1907. It was offered complete independence under the 1931 Statute of Westminster, although it did not adopt this until 1947.

All remaining constitutional links with the United Kingdom were severed with the passing of the New Zealand Constitution Act by both parliaments in 1986, though Queen Elizabeth II in right of New Zealand remains the Head of State (with a local Governor-General (appointed only after local advice) as her representative in New Zealand. Interestingly, the Constitution of Australia still permits New Zealand to join as another Australian state. New Zealand supported 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 Vietnam under various military alliances, including the ANZUS treaty with Australia and the United States. More information about New Zealand’s military history can be found at the (National Army Museum .) New Zealand’s population has strongly opposed the testing and use of nuclear weapons.

The prospect of nuclear armed US warship visits meant that its Parliament enacted anti-nuclear legislation in the mid-1980s. After consultations with Australia, the US announced that it was suspending its treaty obligations to New Zealand until US Navy ships were re-admitted to New Zealand ports, stating that New Zealand was “a friend, but not an ally”. Military relations were not repaired until 2010. New Zealand is now a socially enterprising, vigorous and independent nation with a widely-travelled and well-educated population of more than 4 million. More than one million New Zealanders were born overseas.

Of the other 3 million native “Kiwis”, one in four (one in three between ages 22 and 48) have recently left “Godzone” for more favourable economic opportunities abroad (often to Australia where “Kiwis” uniquely don’t need a visa).

The one minute summary for New Zealand geography

Consisting of two main islands – imaginatively named North Island and South Island and many smaller ones in the South Pacific Ocean, this archipelago lies roughly 1,600 km (1,000 mi) south east of Australia. New Zealand is the fifth largest wholly island nation on earth, its land area surpassed only by Australia, Indonesia, Japan and the Phillipines; NZ’s maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is fifteen times larger, being exceeded only by Australia in the preceding list. Consequently and with a population of nearly 4.5 million in a country larger than the United Kingdom, many areas are sparsely settled.

Be sure to allow sufficient time to travel in New Zealand. Distances are larger than you probably think and many roads wind along the coast and through mountain ranges (particularly on the South Island). It’s rewarding to tour for three or four weeks on each of the main islands, although you can certainly see some of the highlights in far less time. Australians often call NZ “The Shaky Isles” because of frequent seismic activity. Lying on the margin of the two colliding tectonic plates (the Pacific and Indo-Australian), earthquakes are common, particularly in the south west of the South Island and in the central North Island, and the North Island’s scenery is marked by several active and dormant volcanic cones. The largest lake, Lake Taupo drained by NZ’s longest river, the Waikato River, lies in a caldera created by a supervolcanic eruption which occurred approximately 26,500 years ago.

The volcano underneath is considered dormant rather than extinct. Recording more than 14,000 earthquakes a year (with only about 150 usually felt) schoolchildren regularly undertake earthquake drills as in Japan. Auckland, with a population of around 1.5 million people, is the largest city in Polynesia. Indeed, many small pacific nations, such as the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, have more of their national population living in Metro Auckland than in their home islands! (NZ Government Statistics.) This makes for some interesting shopping and ethnic eating opportunities. However, if you want the true New Zealand experience spend as little time as possible in Auckland as it is very different to the rest of the country.

Best places to see in New Zealand

Mountains, lakes and glaciers It can be said that in New Zealand it’s the countryside that’s magnificent, and perhaps no more so than the Southern Alps of the South Island. In the Mackenzie Country, the snow-capped jagged peaks rising above turquoise lakes have provided the inspiration for many a postcard. Tucked in behind is the country’s highest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. The lakes and mountains continue south, becoming a stunning backdrop for the towns of Wanaka, Queenstown and Glenorchy. Another region where mountain meets water with striking effect is Fiordland National Park where steep, densely forested mountains rise from the sea.

The most accessible, and possibly most beautiful spot, is Milford Sound. The road in is spectacular and the view even more so when you arrive. Glaciers may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an island in the South Pacific, but New Zealand has several. The most notable are the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers in Westland National Park. These glaciers are unique in how close they get to sea level and are sustained by the enormous amount of precipitation that falls on New Zealand’s west coast. Volcanoes and geysers New Zealand is a geological hotspot and has many dormant and active volcanoes, geysers and hot springs.

The best place to start is Rotorua, where the smell of sulphur lets you know you’re close to the action. The surrounding countryside has many parks with geysers and hot springs, and Mount Tarawera, the site of one of New Zealand’s more famous eruptions, lies a short drive away. South of Rotorua is Taupo and Lake Taupo, which was formed in a massive volcanic explosion thousands of years ago. Beyond Lake Taupo is Tongariro National Park, dominated by its three volcanoes, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapheu. All three mountains are still active (Ruapehu last erupted in 2007) and Ruapehu has a crater lake that can be viewed with a bit of hiking. Ngauruhoe is famous for filling in as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. North of Rotorua is Whakatane, with tours to White Island, a volcanic island just off the coast. The island is truly a different world with its smoke plume, green crater lake and the pohutukawa trees clinging to a fragile existence on the volcanic rock. Flora and fauna Being so remote, New Zealand has very unique plants and animals.

One of the most impressive is the kauri tree, one of the biggest species of tree in the world. Few of these giants are left (a result of overlogging), but a visit to the Waipoua Forest in Northland will afford a glimpse. The beaches of the South Island, particularly The Catlins and the Otago Peninsula, are good places to see marine animals such as penguins, seals and sea lions in their natural habitat. The Otago Peninsula is also noted for its albatross colony. Unfortunately, many of New Zealand’s most unique animals are endangered and can only really be seen in captivity. This includes the kiwi, a common national symbol, the flightless takahe and the tuatara (a small lizard-like reptile believed to have existed at the time of the dinosaurs).

New Zealand’s National Parks are maintained by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and various local governments. Access is usually free but may be restricted in some parks during some parts of the year due to weather (avalanche risk) or farming (lambing season). It is best to check with local tourist information centres for up to date information on park access. Urban fare While the countryside is the main attraction of New Zealand, you’ll need to visit a few cities to see the truth of that. Auckland is a pleasant city with its waterfront districts like the Viaduct Harbour and Mission Bay, old volcanoes (Mt Eden and One Tree Hill), a handful of museums and the Sky Tower, the tallest free-standing building in the Southern Hemisphere.

The more interesting architecture and the fine Te Papa museum can be found in Wellington, the nation’s capital. Napier is worth a stop, if you have the time, for its Art Deco CBD, and Christchurch was interesting for its English character along the banks of the River Avon. After the destruction wreaked by recent earthquakes, Nelson is the arts, crafts, pottery and craft brewing capital and has the only European style cathedral left standing (confusingly called “Christ Church Cathedral”); it doesn’t hurt that Nelson has great beaches and is surrounded by three national parks! Itineraries Nine days in New Zealand’s North Island Two weeks in New Zealand’s South Island Eighteen Day Small Group Tour Covering Both Islands