Destination: South Island
With the spectacular snow-covered Alps, opaque turquoise glacial lakes, fjords and dramatic coastlines, New Zealand’s South Island is home to an incredible diverse amount of break taking scenery to explore.
Whale watch in Kaikoura, learn about Maori culture in Nelson, whitewater raft down the Buller River, see the world’s only Southern Royal Albatross colony, hike thousands of miles of walks and take a leap of faith with a bungy jump.
Watch the scenery unfold from the comfort on the train on one of the two scenic rail journeys on the South Island. The TranzCoastal train travels along the coast between Picton and Christchurch, while the TranzAlpine train travels through the mountains between Christchurch and Greymouth a great jumping off point for seeing the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers.
Fiordland National Park in the south west of the island features shimmering lakes, towering granite peaks and massive fjords. The towns of Manapouri and Te Anau are close by making them great bases to experience this area. Take a boat trip through Milford Sound and experience the narrow fjords that open up to the Tasman Sea.
New Zealanders, or Kiwis, as they call themselves, are among the friendliest people on earth.
English is the most common language in New Zealand; however Maori is also an official language.
Maori, who are Polynesians, were the first inhabitants of New Zealand, who are thought to have arrived more than 1,000 years ago in double-hulled waka (canoe), from islands in Eastern Polynesia (Hawaiki). Maori settled on both main islands of New Zealand and named the country Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud).
Dutch Navigator Abel Tasman, the first European discoverer, arrived in 1642 and named the islands New Zealand. He didn’t stay, and it wasn’t until Captain James Cook arrived over a century later that the area was colonized.
From the late 1790’s on, whalers, traders and missionaries arrive, establishing settlements mainly along the far northern coast of New Zealand. From 1839 to 1841 New Zealand was administered as part of Australia’s New South Wales colony.
In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, an agreement between the British Crown and Maori. It established British law in New Zealand, while at the same time guaranteeing Maori authority over their land and culture. The Treaty is considered New Zealand’s founding document. The grounds and the building where the treaty was signed have been preserved and, today, the Waitangi Historic Reserve is a popular tourist attraction. The original Treaty itself can be seen at the New Zealand Archives in Wellington.
Gold was discovered in the mid-19th century in the South Island and many more European settlers arrived – many staying to establish farms in the South Island. In the early 1880’s new refrigerated ships made it possible for New Zealand to begin to export dairy products and meat to the United Kingdom and the economy became heavily agriculturally based.
New Zealand was the first sovereign state to give voting rights to women in 1893. In 1907 New Zealand gained dominion status within the British Empire and was granted autonomy in 1931 by the Statute of Westminster which was formally accepted in 1947.
New Zealand today is an independent nation within the British Commonwealth. The British Monarch, although constitutional head of state, plays no active role in the administration of New Zealand’s government.
The capital city is Wellington, although the largest city is Auckland, both situated in the North Island.
The official currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$).
New Zealand’s climate is mainly mild. The far north is subtropical in the summer (November to March) and the far south can get below freezing in the winter (May to August). Nevertheless most of New Zealand has lots of sun, moderate temperatures and modest rainfall.
The average rainfall in New Zealand is between 25 and 60 inches. This provides the country with excellent farming and lush rainforest but it also means that a rain protection is necessary.
Must be in acceptable standard of health to enter New Zealand
United States of America citizens do not need a visa to enter New Zealand, but are required to provide:
• Travel tickets or evidence of onward travel arrangements
• Evidence that you can support yourself in New Zealand (approximately NZ$1000 per month per person)
Tipping & Porterage
Tipping is not as entrenched a custom as it is in the US, however, generous donations by American visitors have changed the expectations of many who work in the tourism industry. Generally, a 10% tip at finer restaurants is sufficient, and taxi drivers only expect a tip if they helped with luggage.
All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand.
Currency is New Zealand dollar denominations:
Coins: 5c,10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2
Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100
230/240 volts, 50 hertz.
Most hotels and motels provide 110 volt ac sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only.
The urban water supply in New Zealand is safe to drink.
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