Discover New Zealand: The Land of the Long White Cloud

Discover all that New Zealand has to offer when you book your ticket to the island nation. Dubbed Aotearoa, the “land of the long white cloud” by its original inhabitants, the Maori, New Zealand welcomes guests with open arms to its shores. Here’s a short guide to what you’ll discover there:

Discover New Zealand’s Culture

Because the next people to arrive in New Zealand after the Maori were British and European immigrants, those two cultures, along with that of the Maori, have influenced New Zealand’s friendly vibe.

New Zealanders, who often go by the collective nickname “Kiwis,” take a cue from the Maori when it comes to hospitality. Warm and welcoming, Kiwis meet newcomers with a smile. Humour is a given with New Zealanders. When you familiarize yourself with their take on the English language, you’ll reel in laughter at their quirky humour.

The nation’s hospitality extends to its drinking privileges. All those 18 years and older can enjoy the fine wines and beers produced by the country.

Ask any Kiwi what their favourite rugby team is, and chances are, they’ll say “The All Blacks.” The team’s silver fern emblem, along with the kiwi bird, are symbols of national pride. The country embraces both its Maori and its European heritage with two official languages: Te Reo Maori and English.

People with a Maori ethnic background often wear facial tattoos (called “ta moko” in Maori) to express their tribal affiliation and social standing as well as their pride in their cultural heritage. That pride, called “mana,” differs from the usual take on the word. Mana incorporates integrity, respect, and honour as well as cultural pride in its essence.

New Zealanders have incorporated many Maori words into their everyday conversation, in addition to their own specialized lingo. To understand your new Kiwi friends when you pass the time of day with them, learn some of these words and phrases:

  • Aotearoa: New Zealand
  • Chilly Bin, Esky: A cooler for beverages and picnic foods
  • Choice: Great, outstanding, I agree, cool
  • Dairy: One of the small, family-owned shops and convenience stores that line the streets
  • Haere Mai: Welcome
  • Hangi: Cooked in a hole with hot, wet stones, this Maori traditional feast is not to be missed
  • Jandals: Thongs, flip-flops
  • Kia Ora: Hi, Hello
  • Pakeha: A person of non-Maori heritage

Discover New Zealand’s People

With a population of only 4.4 million and an area of just under 270000 km2, New Zealand nevertheless has a diverse blend of cultures who call the island home. With 68% of its population of British or other European descent, 22% of Maori and other Polynesian descent, 9% of Asian descent, and 1% of other cultural backgrounds, it’s no wonder that New Zealand has developed such a vibrant culture of its own.

By faith affiliation, New Zealanders skew secular, with 46% of its people having either no religion at all or choosing not to affiliate with a faith group. Thirteen percent of its residents are Catholic, 35% are Protestant, while Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and people of other faiths comprise the remaining six percent.

Discover New Zealand’s Places

With its location in the southern Pacific, New Zealand provides breathtaking views and adventures to those who come. The two islands that make up the main part of the nation differ in character as well as in geographical interest. Sharing New Zealand’s Polynesian heritage are three of its nearest neighbours: Fiji, New Caledonia, and Tonga. Since its location is not far from eastern Australia, the islands attract more than their share of Australian travellers.

The North Island’s cities have much to offer tourists. The country’s largest city, Auckland, is home to nearly 1.5 million people. Nicknamed “The City of Sails” for its two harbors, Auckland is both an urban dweller’s and a sailor’s paradise. Not too far from Auckland lies Rotorua, the urban centre of Maori culture. Nicknamed “Rotovegas” by New Zealanders, the city is home to a plethora of tourist attractions, including visits to traditional Maori villages to enjoy its rich cultural heritage, Surrounded by thermal springs and geysers, Rotorua is a great place to relax and enjoy nature’s wonders.

The South Island’s cities, too, welcome visitors with their unique attractions. The capital city, Wellington, has gained the nickname of “The Windy City” for its strong winds, a result of its location near the mouth of Cook Strait. Christchurch, home to many public gardens and parks, welcomes guests to relax on park benches or enjoy a picnic amid nature’s glories. Queenstown, on the other hand, has earned its reputation as “The Global Adventure Capital” with its heart-pumping sports venues for bungy jumping and skiing. If you’d like to travel to Scotland but don’t want to make the long flight, hop aboard a Dunedin-bound flight instead. This South Island city, settled by Scottish immigrants, channels all the romance of Edinburgh without the long trip.

With private taxis and public buses, tourists can travel all over the islands without renting a car. In larger cities, ferries and trains augment the transportation system. If you want to drive on your own, drive on the left side of the street, just like you do in Australia. When you stop at a casual eatery for a “feed,” as Kiwis like to call a meal, there’s no need to tip. Save your tip money for a splurge at one of the country’s five-star restaurants, many of which feature locally grown and caught foods.

For Australian citizens, travel to New Zealand is no-hassle simple. Australians needn’t apply for a visa, for none is needed. Stay as long as you like. No maximum stay will hamper your adventures. As for your electrical devices, those, too, are the same as in Australia. New Zealand also uses angled 230/240-volt plugs with two or three pins. To call someone in New Zealand, use its international dialing code, +64. Get your money changed at the airport for New Zealand dollars ($NZD) to ensure your shopping goes smoothly.

You won’t have to worry much about jet lag. New Zealand’s time zone differs from Australia’s east coast by only two hours.

Discover New Zealand’s Climate

Visit anytime, but remember that the South Island can get quite cold in the wintertime. Great if you want to hit Queenstown’s slopes, but not so much if you want to work on your tan. Even in the summer, bring a sweater or two if you travel to the South Island. You will find that New Zealand’s climate changes so much, due to its location in the sea without a landmass to block winds from the Tasman Sea. Here are some weather guidelines to help you choose what to bring:

  • Summer: From December to February, temperatures on the North Island range from 21° to 27°, while on the South Island, they range from 8° to 20°.
  • Autumn: From March to May, you still can enjoy balmy temperatures on the North Island ranging from 20° to 26°. On the South Island, temperatures will vary from a brisk 6° to a moderate 16°.
  • Winter: During June to August, the North Island’s temperature usually stays fairly moderate to warm, varying from 15° to 21°. Plan on bundling up, though, if you visit the South Island. Wintry weather varies from a chilly South 2° to a moderate 11°.
  • Spring: From September to November, temperatures range from 5° to 16° on the South Island, whilst the North Island’s temperatures vary from 11° to 19°.

Plan a summer holiday if you want to arrive during peak tourist season. From mid-December right up to early February, count on beaches filled with families whose children are on school holiday.

Experience New Zealand

Blend stunning views of Nature’s best with the pursuit of adventure. That’s New Zealand.

If you’re Australian, you’ll be in good company when you arrive. Nearly half of the visitors who come to experience New Zealand are Australian. Take a few tips from the New Zealand travel experts and get the most for your travel dollars during your holiday.

Experience New Zealand Wildlife

Few dangerous animals call New Zealand home. If you’re a naturalist at heart, though, keep your eye out for these fascinating Kiwi creatures:

  • Kea: One of the world’s smartest birds, this New Zealand creature is also a playful thief. Watch it swoop down to try to snatch a piece of rubber from your car’s windscreen wiper.
  • Kiwi: The national symbol, this flightless bird gave the nation’s residents their nickname.
  • Tuatara: This “living fossil” is the sole survivor of the world’s beak-headed reptile population, the remainder of which passed away millions of years ago. You’ll have to visit a protected offshore island, though, to catch a peek at this ancient creature.
  • Weta: Though its record-breaking size and spiky appearance looks scary, this wingless insect prefers to eat vegetation and other invertebrates.

Experience New Zealand Dining

In New Zealand, freshness in food is a given. Island-grown produce, kai moana (seafood) from the native waters, and lamb from the mountain ranges on the South Island give tourists a banquet of selections to choose from. Try these foods for an authentic Kiwi feed:

  • Hangi: Take a side trip to a Maori marae (tribal ground) and enjoy this slow-cooked feast packed full of vegetables and meats and cooked inside a covered pit heated with wet, steaming stones.
  • Kumara: Sweet potatoes, roasted and often served with meat
  • Tarakihi: An iconic part of New Zealand’s seafood (kai moana) heritage, this white-fleshed fish finds its way into the islands’ finest fish-and-chips shops.
  • Whitebait: Available only in season, these tiny young fish spawn in the sea and migrate back to fresh water. New Zealanders serve these tasty fish whole, head and all without gutting, in a crisp fritter.
  • Kai Moana: Seafood can’t get much fresher than it does in New Zealand. Pair it with one of the islands’ iconic white wines for a special treat.

Travel Safely In New Zealand

With its low crime rate, helpful locals, and healthy lifestyle, New Zealand is one of the safest places to which you can travel. That being said, it pays to follow a few common-sense safety rules when you go.

Prepare for Weather Extremes

Because of its location, the weather in New Zealand often changes quickly. Pack woollens that can keep you warm in cool, wet conditions when you hike, particularly on the South Island in winter. Floods, heavy rains, and cyclones can be hazardous. Keep an eye on the weather report and follow the experts’ advice.

If you plan a trip into the mountains, especially in the winter, bundle up. The combination of freezing temperatures and high winds make for a wind chill factor much lower than the actual temperature. Stay dry, stay warm, and stay together to avoid hypothermia.

The islands’ location in the Pacific Rim makes them susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic activity. The nation endures more than 100 earthquakes every year. Make sure that your insurance will cover your expenses if your flight or activities get delayed or cancelled due to these conditions. If an earthquake happens, stay inside. Drop to a kneeling position with your hands on the ground. You can still move, yet are more stable to protect you from falls. Take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture—a heavy desk or table. Grip the furniture tightly. Move with it if the quake shifts your temporary shelter. If you’re outside when an earthquake hits, though, go to a clear area free from power lines and trees.

Sun and Fun, but Don’t Forget the SPF

Because New Zealand’s location and clear atmosphere intensify the sun’s rays, be sure to use a sunscreen with a high SPF factor every time you go outdoors.

Beware of Parasites in the Water

Giardia, a parasite that lives in New Zealand’s freshwater sources, can cause an intestinal disease called giardiasis. Don’t drink untreated water. If you accidentally swallow some water while you swim, be on the lookout for the following symptoms, which can occur one to two weeks after you ingest the contaminated water: nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps or pain, headaches, bloating, and gas. Be sure to tell your doctor about your accidental ingestion, so you can receive the proper treatment right away.

Driving Safety Tips

Rural driving can present an entirely new set of challenges to those accustomed to urban highways. Watch out for one-lane bridges, farm animals crossing the road, high winds, narrow and icy roads. Black ice, a dark-coloured patch of ice, is especially treacherous. Because it’s hard to distinguish from wet roads, take care when you drive near bodies of water or over bridges, particularly during cooler weather. Drive slowly, steer gently in the direction of the turn, and use only a gentle touch of the brakes. Keep an eye on the weather and road conditions to avoid hazardous driving. Make sure that your travellers’ insurance covers the rental vehicle you’ll use during your trip.

Beware of Thieves

Although New Zealand is a safe country compared to most of the world’s nations, theft is a problem in some areas, particularly for tourists. Since travellers usually carry sought-after documents, such as passports, as well as high-end electronics, cash, and jewellery, tourists are usually the number-one target for thieves.

When you’re not using an item, keep it in a locked, secure location. Even travellers’ insurance may not cover an item that’s been left out in plain sight.

Alcohol, Driving, and Adventure Make a Dangerous Mix

Don’t drink and drive. You risk not only your own safety, but that of others on the road. While you want to have fun with New Zealand’s wide variety of recreational activities, save the alcohol for later. Whether you’re swimming, bungy jumping, skiing, or boating, don’t do it while you’re under the influence. Don’t add to the growing number of drownings that happen because someone tried to swim or sail after taking a drink or two.

Snow Sports Safety

First of all, if you’re a beginner, don’t start with the big slopes. Start small and move on only when you’re ready. Take lessons to help you learn the sport’s basics. Always be in control, so you can stop to avoid hurting others. Obey the posted signs and look out for people who have fallen. Don’t jump unless you can see where you’ll land and make sure you have snow insurance.  

In Case of Emergency

New Zealand’s nationwide emergency phone number is 111. Make sure you carry proper ID and a brief medical history, including allergies, so medical personnel can treat you in case you become unconscious.

As you can see, a trip to New Zealand can open up a world of adventures for travellers. Discover all the wonders of the “Land of the Long White Cloud.” Book your New Zealand adventure today.