New Zealand consists of several islands the two main ones called, the North Island and the South Island. It is found in the Pacific Ocean to the southeast of Australia. It was once a colony of England but still remains a member of the Commonwealth. It is small country with a population of about four and a half million people. It is famous for being a very clean country with a lot of natural beauty. There is a saying in New Zealand, 'Keep New Zealand green' which illustrates people's awareness of preserving the environment.
Many people travel from all over the world to experience New Zealand's beautiful beaches, rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, parks and natural reserves.
While Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, Wellington is the country's capital.
New Zealand Words
There are many words taken from Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, that we use in every day speech.
Kia Ora - this is the Maori word for hello at any time of the day and is a common way to greet and say "thank you" amongst all New Zealanders.
Jandals - the rubber, slip-on sandal with two straps joining between the big and second toe. In Australia they are called thongs, in England they're flip flops. Almost everybody wears jandals in New Zealand during summer.
Mate - is a New Zealand word used for 'friend'. It is usually used to refer to male friends and not female friends.
Chilly Bin - a portable cooler used for keeping drinks cold.
Tramping - the New Zealand word for hiking and often a source of amusement for other English speakers who use the word tramp to refer to a homeless person or a sexually indiscriminate woman!
Togs - swimsuit
The wop wops - to refer to an out of the way location.
Pakeha - a non-Maori person, generally of European descent.
New Zealand Icons
Auckland Harbour Bridge - is the famous bridge that appears in most photos of Auckland. It joins the northern part to the rest of the city. In most postcard photos it will appear with a backdrop of ocean full of boats and yachts which is why Auckland is known as the 'city of sails'.
Sky Tower - The Sky Tower is located in Central Auckland and is New Zealand's tallest building standing at 328 meters. From its observation deck it is possible to see views of up to 80kms in every direction.
The Beehive - is the building that makes up the executive wing of the NZ Parliament buildings. It was given its name due to it's conical shape reminiscent of a traditional Beehive.
One Tree Hill - Auckland is a city full of dormant volcanoes. Perhaps the most famous being one tree hill. It was called this because of a lone totara tree that stood on the summit until it was destroyed by a Maori activist in 1999. This hill has a fantastic view of the whole city. World famous Irish group U2 even have a song called 'one tree hill' dedicated to a long time New Zealand U2 groupie, who passed away.
Rotorua - Rotorua is small city in the central North Island. It is a thermal region famous for its natural thermal pools, mud pools and geysers. The steam sent into the air has a distinct sulphuric smell that you notice as soon as you arrive. But don't let that put you off, walking around these bubbling pools and geysers makes you feel like you are on another planet.
Lake Taupo - Is an enormous lake in the centre of the North Island. It is a perfect place to stop off if you are heading south. People enjoy many kinds of water sports such as water skiing, jet skiing or speed boating. There is also a river in this area where people enjoy extreme sports, like, rafting and bungee jumping.
Hawke's Bay - Located on the central east coast of the North Island, it is sometimes referred to as "the fruitbowl of New Zealand" due to its temperate climate and perfect fruit growing conditions. The 'twin cities', Napier and Hastings, are famous for their Art Deco architecture resulting from a devastating earthquake that struck in 1931 and almost completely flattened both cities. January/February is the time of year to visit Hawke's Bay as the region is alive with outdoor concerts, wine festivals and Art Deco Weekend.
Wellington - Not only is Wellington New Zealand's political capital, but arguably the country's cultural capital also. Wellington sits at the bottom of the North Island and is the gateway to the south via plane of ferry. A small, centrally located central business district is alive day and night with a multitude of funky bars and cafe's, art galleries, street theatre and countless festivals of art, dance, film, you name it! Two breeds of Kiwi dominate the streets of Wellington, the suit-wearing politicians and the alternative, creative types; neither of whom are immune to the buffeting winds that Wellington is famous for.
Malborough - Is the northern part of the South Island. This area is renowned for having the most beautiful beaches in the country as well as the best weather. This area has more hours of sunshine than any other part of New Zealand. There are nature tracks in this area that have some of the most amazing natural scenery imaginable and is perfect for people who love hiking.
Animals of New Zealand
People often confuse New Zealand with Australia and think there are many native animals. However there are no indigenous animals in New Zealand. Animals that are found in the wild today were all originally brought over by the settlers.
Birds of New Zealand
This is the reason New Zealand is the home of so many flightless birds. With no natural predators around to worry about, birds were able to evolve differently. This meant less need to fly and they were able to find their niche on the ground!
Unfortunately for this reason many species are became endangered after the arrival of non-native animals. The introduction of possums, rats and other rodents left these birds vulnerable and their numbers are sadly dropping. Luckily many conservational groups are doing all they can to solve this problem.
Kiwi - is the most famous bird of New Zealand. It is probably the most well known symbol of the country, In fact New Zealanders are affectionately known as 'kiwis'. It is a small, brown flightless bird with a long beak, which it uses to dig up worms and insects from the soil. It is nocturnal and because of this it is very difficult to see one in the wild.
Other typical birds are the Kea, a curious mountain bird, the Tui with its beautiful song and the Pukeko amongst others.
New Zealand Sports
Cricket - is the most popular summer sport in New Zealand. A kiwi tradition is to fill a chilly bin with beers and go down to the stadium to watch a match. Each match is very long, with test matches lasting up to 5 days! It is very popular in other commonwealth countries such as Australia, India, Pakistan and England. The New Zealand team is always competitive but highly inconsistent.
Rugby Union - is by far the country's most popular sport. The national team are known as the All Blacks and are famous worldwide. They are considered to be the best team in the world and have won the World Cup three times (1987, 2011 and 2015). Before each match the team perform a 'haka' which is a traditional Maori war dance intended to intimidate the opposition. As with all sports New Zealand has a bitter rivalry with Australia and every year they play each other in a series called the Bledisloe shield.
Rugby league - This sport is a variation of rugby and although it is played in very few countries it is highly popular in New Zealand. New Zealand has a team that plays in the Australian competition and they have a large fan base. Recently New Zealand won the World Cup for the first time beating arch rivals and favorites, Australia in the final to many people's disbelief.
Netball - is by far the most female sport in New Zealand and is played by women of all ages. It is an extremely fast paced and very skilful sport and like cricket it is most popular in the countries of the Commonwealth. Whilst Australia are the current world champions their intense rivalry with New Zealand has meant that both countries have held this title in recent years.
The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. When the English settlers arrived in the country there was no conquest as occurred in other parts of the world, instead a treaty was signed between the English and Maori, which is still recognized and respected to this day. The Maori people have a rich culture and are well know for their artwork, craftwork, dance and language. These factors are very attractive to tourists and many people visit Maori villages and shows while they are in the country. Maori tattoos are also very popular, and several celebrities including singers Robbie Williams and Ben Harper have chosen Maori designs.
Try our interactive game about New Zealand based on what is written on this page.
See more information about New Zealand in English.
Información de Nueva Zelanda en español (in Spanish)
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