Introduction to New Zealand

The capital city of New Zealand, Wellington, is the southernmost capital city in the world.
You must have heard that New Zealanders are colloquially known as Kiwis – a reference to New Zealand’s native flightless bird.
But Did you know that in 1893 New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote?
To find out more interesting facts about New Zealand read below!

Country local name: New Zealand
Government type: parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Capital: Wellington
Time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Independence: 26 September 1907 (from the UK)
National holiday: Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840); ANZAC Day (commemorated as the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)
Population: 4,401,916 (July 2014 est.)
Ethnic groups: European 71.2%, Maori 14.1%, Asian 11.3%, Pacific peoples 7.6%, Middle Eastern, Latin American, African 1.1%, other 1.6%, not stated or unidentified 5.4%
Languages: English (de facto official) 89.8%, Maori (de jure official) 3.5%, Samoan 2%, Hindi 1.6%, French 1.2%, Northern Chinese 1.2%, Yue 1%, Other or not stated 20.5%, New Zealand Sign Language (de jure official)
Religions: Christian 44.3% (Catholic 11.6%, Anglican 10.8%, Presbyterian and Congregational 7.8%, Methodist, 2.4%, Pentecostal 1.8%, other 9.9%), Hindu 2.1%, Buddhist 1.4%, Maori Christian 1.3%, Islam 1.1%, other religion 1.4% (includes Judaism, Spiritualism and New Age religions, Baha'i, Asian religions other than Buddhism), no religion 38.5%, not stated or unidentified 8.2%, objected to answering 4.1%
Terrain: predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains
Elevation extremes: Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Aoraki-Mount Cook 3,754 m
Natural resources: natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone
Agriculture – products: dairy products, lamb and mutton; wheat, barley, potatoes, pulses, fruits, vegetables; wool, beef; fish
Industries: food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transportation equipment, banking, insurance, tourism, mining
Exports: dairy products, meat, wood and wood products, fish, machinery
Shopping hours: Shops are open Monday-Saturday from 9am to 5pm, Sunday from 10am to 1pm.
Climate: temperate with sharp regional contrasts
Natural hazards: earthquakes are common, though they are not usually severe; volcanic activity



New Zealand is called “The Land of the Long White Cloud” with an average maximum temperature of 20-30ºC (70-90°F) in summer and 10-15ºC (50-60°F) in winter. An ocean temperate climate brings more subtropical weather in the north and colder conditions with temporary periods of rain and wind in the south.

New Zealand has four seasons. The most popular and the hottest season is summer, which runs from December to February.

Autumn is between March and May and a great time for hiking.

Winter, between June and August, is ski season (the most popular resorts are the Remarkables mountains in the South Island and the Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas in the North Island).

Spring falls between September and November, when the nature is coming to life and the sun is stronger.

As you can see – New Zealand is worth a visit throughout the year!

New Zealand, as a nation surrounded by the sea, is determined by seafood and a basic kiwifruit over the year. But the country has also high quality meat, such as world-class lamb, beef and pork.

In general, the cuisine is a mixture of European, Asia and native Maori influences.

Specialities that you must try: Kumara (a local sweet potato), pavlova (a meringue-based dessert), the traditional Maori hangi (meat and vegetabled in baskets, cooked slowly under heated river rocks), Toheroa (clam), battered fish and chips, Hokey Pokey ice cream (vanilla ice cream with bits of sponge toffee), Meat pies (a small pastry with a filling of meat) and paua fritters (abalone).

The most popular fruits are feijoa, tamarillo and the above-mentioned kiwifruit.
You can try also seasonal delicacies such as scallops, shellfish, whitebait, crayfish, sensational green-lipped mussels and treats such as Tim Tams (cookies), Jaffas (small round chocolate-and-orange cakes), Pineapple Lumps (a chocolate-coated candy with a chewy, pineapple-flavoured centre).

New Zealand is also famous for French-type cheeses such as camembert, bleu de Bresse, montagne bleu and brie.

Something about alcohol:
The most popular brands of beers are DB, Steinlager, Lion Red, Macs Gold.
World-class domestic wines include: Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Noir.

·    New Zealanders are colloquially known as Kiwis – a reference to New Zealand’s native flightless bird.
·    ‘Aotearoa’ is the Maori’s name for New Zealand and it means “the land of the long white cloud”.



Hey bro how’s it going? – You can say ‘bro’ in place of ‘dude’, ‘man’, ‘mate’.
All good – Everything’s fine.
Not even! – That’s not true!/ No way!
Sweet as – OK, no problem (A: Shall we go to the beach today? B: Sweet as.)
It’s hardout hot today! – It’s extremely hot today!
A: How was the date? B: Hardout! (awesome)
Yeah nah bro – you can use to fill space, means ‘Umm’.
Honest to who? – Really? Sometimes the response can be “Honest to G” (Honest to God).
See ya later! – See you later!
Ta – Thanks.
What are ya! – Are you mad?
You ain't wrong – That's right, yes.
Good on ya, mate! – Well done! Congratulations!
Togs – Swimsuit
Dairy – a local corner shop
Jandals – a pair of rubber sandals
Gap it – run away, to leave

·    Kiwis may be reserved on first contact, but are always very friendly, outgoing and open-minded.
·    At the beginning you should address people using their titles or ‘Mr.’, ‘Mrs.’, ‘Miss’ before their name. But often they prefer to shun the use of titles and move to a first name straightaway.
·    Kiwis are a politically correct society. Manners are important.
·    As a greeting, a handshake and smile is best.
·    Punctuality is important; Kiwis don’t like to be late. If you are going to be late you should to call and explain before you get to where you are going.
·    Tips in restaurants and bars are very rare and may be refused.

·    Kiwis believe that all things have a ‘mauri’ or life force. They consider that it is important to maintain this power by pursuing sustainable development. They have a strong desire to preserve New Zealand's beauty.
·    Wealth and poverty – there is no such division. People are proud of their achievements and they believe that anyone can achieve anything.
·    Avoid comparing New Zealand with Australia.
·    Don’t show the middle finger and don’t use sexist or racist language.
·    A small gift is a nice gesture before you visit someone’s home.
·    Kiwis dress casually and neatly.
·    Don’t put your elbows on the table.
·    Kiwis love sport.


Bay of Islands is a picturesque area, which contains 144 islands, superb beaches and many secluded bays. There are plenty of attractions here. Try scuba diving, fishing, sailing and other watersports. It is also an opportunity to see dolphins, penguins, marlin and whales. As a curiosity, the Bay of Island is the historical heart of New Zealand (The Treaty of Waitangi– the founding document of the nation – was signed here).

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and is its main transport hub. It’s three hours by car from the Bay of Islands. The city is dotted with 48 volcanic cones, mostly surrounded by lush parkland. Rangitoto Island is the most well-known region. Multicultural restaurants and bars allow you get to know different cultures. You can visit the Sky Tower – the tallest free-standing structure, with an observation tower – and also visit many museums, such as Auckland Art Gallery. If you want something more adventurous, bungee jumping, kayaking and sailing are all on offer.

The Coromandel Peninsula is famous for its long, golden beaches and superb climate. Hot Water Beach is a must-see! This thermal beach gives you a rest. Don’t miss the picturesque city of Thames. Cathedral Cove and an amazing beach at Whangamata are spectacular. The abundance of fern species and forests gives the peninsula a unique look.

Rotorua is famous for geothermal areas. Visitors love the natural hot springs, numerous, shooting geysers and bubbling, therapeutic mud pools. Wai-O-Tapu is a thermal wonderland. Water activities and freshwater fishing are also on offer.

Whakaari (White Island) is the most active volcano in New Zealand. A site dive to explore the marine life and the separated from the ocean volcano's inner crater is unforgettable.

In Wellington you can delve into museums (national museum – Te Papa Tongarewa Museum), theatre shows, art-house cinemas, art galleries, hip bars and restaurants. The capital city offers activities such as sea-water kayaking, walks around the harbor and surrounding hills, mountain biking, as well as a cable-car ride up the hill to Kelburn to admire the view from the top.


Fiordland National Park, New Zealand’s most famous tourist attraction, is home to Milford Sound, which Rudyard Kipling called the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. Cruise on the fjord to see waterfalls, wildlife and mountains. It’s a dream. Visit Doubtful, which is equally spectacular. The park has also the world-famous Milford Track, which is its most well-known hiking trail. Additionally, there is Sutherland Falls – one of the highest waterfalls in the world – and one of the thousand falls in the park.

Queenstown is known for world-class skiing during the winter. If you love adrenaline, the Shotover Canyon Swing will introduce you to the world of jumping. It’s the World’s Highest Cliff Jump. In Queenstown, you can also experience activities such as jet boating, kayaking, skydiving, luging, river rafting all year round. If you need a moment to breath, go to Fergburger – the best place to eat! As a curiosity, scenes from the Lord of the Rings film trilogy were filmed in the area.

Christchurch, known as the Garden City, is the largest city on South Island. Several large earthquakes destroyed the city and its charms are still under maintenance. Visit Hagley Park – the most popular park, which contains Christchurch Botanic Gardens, home to the largest, tallest and oldest trees in New Zealand.

Nelson and Marlborough are for art-lovers. They are home to festivals, galleries, craft markets and National Parks (the Nelson Lakes National Park, the Abel Tasman National Park and the Kahurangi National Park). Besides, you can take a rest, while drinking a good wine, and dine on famous Nelson Bay scallops. Marlborough is the largest wine growing region in New Zealand.

Aoraki Mount Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand.

For the brave, try diving at the Poor Knights Islands (23 km off New Zealand’s Tutukaka Coast).

Read our stories from our trips to NEPAL and PERU combined with volunteering experience, which we made in 2016 and 2017 >>

Join our next volunteering trip in a group and spend 2 weeks far away! Read more HERE!