Marooned in the southwestern Pacific Ocean are the islands of Te Waipounamu, (North Island) Te Ika-a-Māui, (South Island) and Rakiura. (Stewart Island) Collectively known as Aotearoa or the more familiar New Zealand, this is the land of the long white cloud. An untamed wilderness of towering snow-capped peaks, deep glacial lakes, immense volcanoes and spectacular fjords. With a seaboard home to golden sandy beaches wrapping around an 18,000-kilometre coastline, these islands have a truckload of jaw-dropping scenery in store for anyone landing on its shores.
Home to a unique array of vegetation and wildlife, much of which developed during the country’s prolonged isolation. New Zealand was one of the last sizeable territories suitable for habitation to be populated and settled. Consequently, almost ninety per cent of the indigenous plants are particular to these shores. Today, dense 'bush' survives only in the national parks and areas unsuitable for settlement. Aside from the bat, there are no mammals native to the islands and such a lack of predators was essential to the evolution of several flightless bird species. The most renowned of which is the shy, long-beaked Kiwi but the kakapo, takahe, weka and penguin can also be found on these alluring shores.
Photographing New Zealand
With a devastating lineup of stunning scenery all jammed into a relatively compact size, New Zealand is a landscape photographers paradise. From Cape Reinga on the tip of the subtropical Northland, home to the glorious Bay of Islands, all the way down to the stunning fjords and ancient rainforests of Fiordland in the far south-west. Aotearoa has enough to keep you busier than a one-armed paper hanger with a serious case of the winnits.
As part of the ring of fire, naturally wedged between the above points are such sights as the Taupō volcanic zone, home to the twin cones of Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Whakaari (White Island) in the bay of plenty is a sight to behold but currently off-limits due to significant recent activity. (2019) Meanwhile, the colossal Mount Taranaki (Egmont) is a dormant and much more accessible peak.
New Zealand's biggest city and most visitors arrival point Auckland is frequently rated as one of the world's top cities for quality of life and liveability. Sprawling over volcanic hills and around twin harbours, the city offers a wealth of natural wonders and urban exploits. Meanwhile, the capital city of Wellington lies 666 kilometres to the south and has been dubbed as 'the coolest little capital in the world'. Home to a throbbing cultural scene, this umbrella-shredding, hair-wrecking city ( It's windy here ) is the country's culinary capital, famous for its craft beer bars, quirky cafes brewing great coffee.
The North Island is also home to the far less intimidating, laid back beaches of the Coromandel. This coastline has 400 kilometres of dazzling white sandy beaches, unspoilt and not erupting any time soon. Further south is the country's art Deco capital and wine-producing region of Hawkes Bay. A flat and fertile region enjoying a warm, temperate climate and home to the charismatic coastal town of Napier.
The South Island is home to the southern alps, extending along the majority of its length. Star-studded skyscapes and glacial valleys containing 360 glaciers can also be witnessed here.
Completely Useless Facts about New Zealand
- The flightless Moa was once the tallest bird on Earth. Growing up to 3.5 metres, it was hunted to extinction in the 14th century
- It's a common theme for national sports teams of New Zealand to incorporate the word 'black' into their identity. Aside from the infamous All Blacks rugby team, the Blacks Caps play cricket and the basketball team are known as the Tall Blacks. However, due to more than a few complaints, the national badminton team dropped the name 'Black Cocks'
- The longest place name on Earth, 'Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu' is a hill in Hawkes Bay
- Blue Lake in the Nelson Lakes National Park, has the clearest water in the world
- There are fewer people in New Zealand than vending machines in Japan
- Population: 4.8 million
- Capital City: Wellington
- Land Area: 270,534 sq km (104,454 sq miles)
- Major languages: English, Maori
- Major religion: Christianity
- Currency: New Zealand Dollar
Have a wemooch elsewhere...
Thinking about heading off on a long adventure in the land of the long white cloud?
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