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New Zealand's South Island

New Zealand's South Island

Автором Bette Flagler

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New Zealand's South Island

Автором Bette Flagler

699 pages
10 hours
Jan 20, 2013


Marlborough, Nelson, Mt. Cook, the glaciers, Fiordland, Otago, Stewart Island, Rakiura National Park - here is the ultimate guide to the magical South Island. The South Island is dominated by the 500-km (300-mile) spine of the Southern Alps. The western s
Jan 20, 2013

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New Zealand's South Island - Bette Flagler

New Zealand's South Island

Bette Flagler

Hunter Publishing, Inc.



Ulysses Travel Publications

4176 Saint-Denis, Montréal, Québec

Canada H2W 2M5

tel.514-843-9882, ext. 2232; fax 514-843-9448

The Boundary, Wheatley Road, Garsington

Oxford, OX44 9EJ England

tel.01865-361122; fax 01865-361133

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.

This guide focuses on recreational activities. As all such activities contain elements of risk, the publisher, author, affiliated individuals and companies disclaim any responsibility for injury, harm, or illness that may occur to anyone through, or by use of, the information in this book. Every effort was made to insure the accuracy of information in this book, but the publisher and author do not assume and hereby disclaim, liability for loss or damage caused by errors, omissions, misleading information or potential travel problems caused by this guide, even if such errors or omissions are the result of negligence, accident or any other cause.



Geography & Land



People & Culture

Travel Information

At a Glance

The Basics

Getting Here

Getting Around


Opening Hours

New Zealand Post


Traveling With Kids


Money Matters



South Island



Getting Here

Information Sources


Blenheim, Renwick & theWineCountry

Havelock & West

Awatere & East



Getting Here

Information Sources

Nelson & Around

Nelson to Farewell Spit



Takaka & Golden Bay

Collingwood & Farewell Spit

Abel Tasman National Park

Kahurangi National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park


West Coast


Getting Here

Information Sources

The Buller Gorge to Westport

Inland to Greymouth

Westport North to Karamea


Punakaiki & Paparoa National Park

Punakaiki to Greymouth


From Greymouth to Hokitika


Hokitika to the Glaciers

The Glaciers

Franz Josef


The Glaciers to Haast

The Haast Pass




Banks Peninsula

North&West of Christchurch



West to the Lewis Pass

Selwyn District

Lake Coleridge


Central South Island

Mackenzie Country & Aoraki/Mt.Cook



Getting Here

Information Sources


Otago Peninsula




Central Otago




Dunedin to Central Otago &theRoxburgh Valley

The Maniototo or Plain of Blood


Naseby & Dansey’s Pass

Ranfurly to Alexandra

Coastal Otago





Getting Here

Information Sources


Where to Stay

Where to Eat in Te Anau



Getting Here

Information Sources

The Southern Scenic Route

Te Anau to Invercargill


The Road to Papatowai

Papatowai to Balclutha

Central Southland


Stewart Island/Rakiura National Park


Getting Here

Information Sources


Where to Stay

Where to Eat

Book List

Maori Language

Kiwi English

Some Words & Expressions


The islands that make up New Zealand are mere dots on the bottom of the globe – there is no doubt, this is a small place, far from the rest of the world. But what a delightful small place it is! Traveling around New Zealand, I often feel like the very best bits and pieces of the world were put together and all the extra land and people were removed. It’s a gentle place and traveling here is easy: the language is English, the food is familiar and the people are friendly. There are mountains and rivers, wineries and farmers’ markets. You can find walking tracks that will take five minutes or two weeks and you’ll find kayaks, horses and helicopters, all ready to carry you off to spectacular places.

When I first arrived in New Zealand in 1999, I bought an old Honda Accord, filled it to the brim with my stuff and took off. I drove around for seven months and still that wasn’t long enough. After immigrating the following year, I traveled as much as possible – and when, a few years later, I had the opportunity to research my first guide book, I still had a mile-long list of places to see for the first time.

So I must be honest – putting together this Pocket Guide was a painful undertaking. This book is intended for visitors to New Zealand who don’t have much time – the ones who want to see the highlights and get a taste of the country. In order to distill New Zealand into a short book, I was forced to remove some of the farther-flung locations and, in so doing, some of my favorite regions were left behind. But the fact is this: if you’re coming to New Zealand for one or two weeks, you’re not likely, for example, to get to Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki or the Coromandel Peninsula. You won’t, probably, spend much time on the North Island at all because, let’s face it, the iconic sights and activities of New Zealand are on the South Island. And you won’t, most likely, have time to explore the Caitlins or Stewart Island. But you’ll still have a great time and your camera will be bulging with photos. If, however, you have more time, or want to come back and explore the rest of the country, pick up a copy of my New Zealand Adventure Guide.

The best time to come to New Zealand is from October to April and my favorite months are February and March. Try to avoid Christmas – that’s when most Kiwi families take their holiday; places get filled up and often accommodation rates increase.

Activities You Should Not Miss:

Splurge on a helicopter trip. My favorite is from Wanaka.

Kayak the Queen Charlotte Sound or Abel Tasman.

Swim with the dolphins in Kaikoura.

Eat a lot of fresh produce and drink a lot of New Zealand wine.

Go on a multi-day tramp (backpacking trip) and stay in a hut.

Do a full-day guided tour on Franz Josef glacier.

Go to Milford Sound. Preferably in a kayak.

Ride a bike to Macetown or a horse into the high country.

From the sandy beaches of Northland to the snowy Southern Alps, New Zealand is a country of eye candy. When New Zealand was designed, it’s as if all the greatest places on earth were put together in one compact little land mass and most of the people were removed. Luckily for travelers, New Zealand is also a user-friendly kind of place, combining the laid-back attitudes of an island with the conveniences and lifestyle of the first world. New Zealanders, or Kiwis, are honest-to-goodness nice folks. It’s like living in a country full of labrador retrievers.

When I first arrived in New Zealand it was on a friend’s sailboat at the end of two years traveling. As the sun began to brighten the morning sky, what was to become my adopted home literally presented itself as Aotearoa, the Maori word for New Zealand meaning land of the long white cloud. We sailed closer to Opua, our landfall in the Bay of Islands, and the cloud cover burned off to reveal a green land underneath a startling blue sky. Sailors who had arrived before us said, the people just keep getting friendlier the farther south you travel. We couldn’t imagine how this would be possible, but it proved true. As the landscape gets more dramatic, the people are nicer, more welcoming, have more time to share. Interested not only in who you are, Kiwis look to visitors for approval and love to ask So, how do you like New Zealand? When I’m asked why I chose to move here, just look around is my answer.

New Zealanders are great walkers and the country is bursting with tracks, from local strolls in the park, to full-on mountaineering. The woods are called the bush and hiking is called tramping. Funny turns of phrase, but you’ll get used to the idea of tramping in the bush. You can’t go far without seeing water and many activities are sea- , river- or lake-based. One of the most amazing things about New Zealand is the proximity of places – you can be climbing on a glacier in the morning and hanging out at the beach in the afternoon.

As if the natural grandeur of the place isn’t enough to inspire a visit, consider this: New Zealand has no snakes, no rabies, only one poisonous spider that’s so reclusive virtually no one ever sees it, and there is very little violent crime. Robust with bird and marine life, its only native mammal is a small bat. For me, it all adds up to a paradise where I can hike, bike or sail without much to worry about. Plus, there is great fresh produce, piles of fish, and wine just about everywhere you look – what could be better? If I had to fault New Zealand, it would be twofold: the total lack of understanding what makes a proper chocolate chip cookie and the belief that instant coffee is an acceptable drink. The coffee issue is changing, but I’ve yet to find a Toll House morsel.

New Zealanders are nuts for sport, but there is art and culture, as well. Never have I seen so many avid gardeners and the creativity of the artisans is astounding. While listening to the radio, you may get a chuckle hearing a song that you thought (and maybe even hoped) never to hear again, but music is alive and well in the city centers and the opera, ballet and orchestras are well-respected. New Zealand is the birthplace of many world famous performers, filmmakers, directors, singers, authors, photographers, painters... you get the picture.

I wrote this book with my friends in mind – for people who travel like Peggy and Jeff, Mark and Amy; people who appreciate fine wine and goose-down duvets, but who are just as happy and comfortable when barreling down a muddy mountain on their bike or strapping a pack of camping gear to their backs. The America’s Cup, and the movies Lord of the Rings and Whale Rider have, in a few short years, taken New Zealand from the bottom of the world to the front of the minds of people all over the planet. And fair enough, too. It’s a great place and, while there is no paradise, if you’re a traveler in search of a destination where exploration is part of the adventure, then New Zealand is pretty darned close. I hope you enjoy your trip and that this book helps in your travels. Feel free to drop me a line at bettewrites@xtra.co.nz and let me know what you did and didn’t like (both about the book and New Zealand!).


Apart from Antarctica, New Zealand was the last major land mass to be settled by man and the land that we call New Zealand evolved following the separation of the Rangitata Land Mass from the ancient super continent Gondwanaland – some 80 million years ago. Separation forces continued for 20 million years until the Tasman Sea reached its current width and the land mass continued to experience changes until as little as five million years ago, when the current shape of the two islands began to take form. During this time of development, New Zealand lived in isolation and, as recently as 7,000 years ago, most of New Zealand was covered in rainforest. Protected by the sea, New Zealand developed unique flora and fauna and, within the perfectly safe forest, birds even lost their ability to fly. Sadly, the discovery of New Zealand by man – first the Maori and the Moriori, and then the Europeans – changed everything. The Maori were skilled hunters and fishermen and brought rats, dogs, fire and stone age weapons. The Europeans brought disease, agriculture, more weapons, intrusive flora and more fauna. The New Zealand we know today, while beautiful, is a shadow of what it must have been only 1,000 years ago.

Pre-European History

The Maori

While the exact date of Maori settlement in Aotearoa/New Zealand is unknown, current belief points to the arrival of the Maori people sometime around 1000 AD on double-hulled waka hourua (voyaging canoes) from their homeland in Hawaiki. It is believed that migrations took place over several generations, with some to-ing and fro-ing to Hawaiki.

While similar in sound and spelling to Hawaii, Hawaiki is not the same island nor in the same island chain. Hawaiki is probably in the Society Islands, perhaps the island of Rangitea.

Evidence shows that long before Maori landed in Aotearoa/New Zealand, their f

orebears lived in what is now China. From there, about 15,000 years ago, they migrated through Taiwan and the Philippines to Indonesia, where they stayed until about 6,000 to 9,000 years ago, when another migration took them through Melanesia. Eastward migration about 3,500 years ago brought them to Fiji; the migration pattern continued through to Samoa and the Marquesas, from where, it is believed, they sailed south to Tahiti (and the rest of the Society Islands) to the Cook Islands, and to Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Maori history begins with the arrival of the great explorer Kupe sometime around 900 AD, but it is his wife, Hine-te-aparangi, who is credited for the name Aotearoa – Land of the Long White Cloud. After visiting both the North and South Islands, Kupe, his wife, and crew left Hokianga Harbour and returned to Hawaiki.

Ancient Maori history is unwritten, but many legends and stories explain the journeys to Aotearoa. Each waka (voyaging canoe) and each tribe has its own story and, to make the history easier to understand, non-Maori historians of the past melded some stories together. For instance, it was taught that a Great Fleet arrived in New Zealand around 1350 – but this massive Polynesian migration theory is currently being disputed. The boats included in the migration include the Aotea, Arawa, Tainui, Kurahaupo, Takitimu, Horouata, Tokomaru and Mataatua and, while it is not doubted that the boats existed, it is questioned whether they came in a fleet.

Regardless of whether a fleet arrived on one particular day or not, the first Maori settled on the North Island and, in particular, around its eastern coast – where the temperate climate was more hospitable than farther south. (Imagine, though, coming from a tropical Pacific island where you rarely wore clothes to New Zealand!) The Maori set up a thriving society based on the iwi (tribe). Today, most Maori can trace their origins from their whanau (extended family) to their iwi (tribe); and their whakapapa (geneology) to a particular waka hourua (ocean-going canoe).

The Maori brought dogs and rats – the first four-legged animals to set foot on the land – and fire. And so began the devastation of previously untouched flora and fauna. The Maori settlers were great hunters and fishermen and lived a stone age existence until the arrival of the Europeans; they used bird, whale, dog and human bones, ivory teeth, and stone for tool making. Pounamu or greenstone, was an especially prized possession and was used for weapons, tools and adornments. Maori traveled long distances in search of pounamu and many of the settlements of the South Island (many of the walking tracks, too) owe their existence to the search for this stone.

The Maori hunted the native birds, many of which were flightless, including on the South Island, the spectacular moa, the world’s largest bird. There were over 20 species, ranging from the size of a turkey to the giant, which stood 3.7 meters (12 feet) high and weighed up to 200 kg (440 pounds). So heavily hunted was the moa (and the moa eggs) that it became extinct approximately 400 years ago (you can see a fabulous display of Moa bones in the Southern Lands, Southern People exhibit at the Otago Museum). Along with the flightless moa, Maori hunted and ate kereru (wood pigeon) and tui, or parsons bird. In addition to hunting, Maori were keen fishermen and tribes on the South Island hunted penguins, seals and muttonbirds. The lifestyle of the early Maori during this Archaic period was a transient one – campsites were used short-term while they hunted and fished in a particular area.

Widespread agriculture wasn’t prevalent during the Archaic period of Maori settlement – possibly because the crops that had been grown in Hawaiki couldn’t survive the colder conditions of the new land, or, equally likely, the crops arrived not on the first landings, but with successive migrations. When crops did arrive they were primarily root crops; the kumara (sweet potato) was the most heavily cultivated, growing successfully on north-facing gardens of the milder North Island. As gardens became established, Maori history moved into what is referred to as the Classic Period – punctuated by widespread agricultural systems that protected crops from frost, the formation of kainga (villages) near the gardens, and the specialization of tasks. It was during this era of increased leisure time that carving, weaving and, unfortunately, inter-tribal warfare began to flourish.

Many tribes were annihilated through conquest and enslavement and cannibalism became prevalent. Pa (fortified villages) containing a series of stockades and trenches, were established at strategic locations to protect villages from invasion. Only men fought and Maori men were proven to be fierce warriors. Intricately carved weapons such as the spear-like taiaha and the mere (club) were prized possessions and warriors often had a full-face tamoko (tattoo). Ta Moko (facial tatoo) is considered a taonga (treasure) and every tatoo tells the story of the wearer’s family and tribal affiliations.

European Arrival

On December 13, 1642, Dutchman Abel Tasman became the first European to visit New Zealand. Hired by the Dutch East India Company, Tasman was sent off to find the mysterious and rich Southern Continent, known as Terra australis incognita, believed to stretch across most of the Pacific and balance the huge continents of the Northern Hemisphere. The land Tasman first spotted was on the West Coast of the South Island – somewhere between Hokitika and Okarito. He named the land Staten Landt referring to the Land of the Dutch States-General, and, while he wasn’t sure, he believed that he had found the southern continent. Five days later, in need of fresh water and in hopes of exploring the land, Tasman and his crews anchored off the coast of Taitapu Bay (now Golden Bay).

Tasman and his two boats were spotted and met by two canoes of Maori who attempted communication. Neither group could understand the other, but Tasman recorded that the Maori seemed friendly. They paddled away and the following morning another canoe approached. Communication was still impossible and seven more canoes came to the anchored ships. One of the Maori canoes paddled toward a small Dutch boat that was being rowed between the two Dutch ships, ramming into it and killing four of the Dutch sailors. Three other sailors swam to the ship and they were plucked from the sea. Anchors were weighed and by the time the Dutch had set sail, 22 canoes were on shore and 11 more were paddling toward the ships. When the canoes were at close range, Tasman fired and hit one Maori; the canoes retreated to shore.

Tasman named the area Murderer’s Bay and never set foot on land. Before leaving the New Zealand coast, he passed and named Three Kings Islands at the northern tip of the North Island, and Cape Marie van Diemen, the northwest tip of the North Island after the wife of the Dutch Governor General to Batavia.

Following Tasman’s first sightings, no Europeans explored New Zealand until Captain James Cook arrived on the Endeavour in 1769. His first assignment had been to study the passage of the planet Venus across the disc of the sun; his second task was to find the elusive southern continent. Joining Cook were Joseph Banks (a botanist), Daniel Solander (a naturalist) and Charles Green (from the Greenwich Observatory). Cook fulfilled his first assignment in Tahiti on April 13, 1769, and, having made friends with the Tahitians, left accompanied by a Tahitian chief named Tupaia (who spoke some English and had a yearning to travel) and his boy servant. Here is the big advantage that Cook had over Tasman – he had a Polynesian chief on board who could advise Cook and Banks on the appropriate behavior and customs of island tribes.

Even though Cook is a hero and countless place names refer in one way or another to his explorations, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. On October 6, 1769, Nicholas Young, the surgeon’s boy, spotted a peninsula of land on the east side of the North Island. Cook named the peninsula Young Nick’s Head and, two days later, Cook sailed into what he would name Poverty Bay, near what we know as Gisborne. There was an unfortunate altercation in Poverty Bay, where Maori were killed. Luckily, Tupaia was able to provide insight and interpretation and as Cook sailed farther on, circumnavigating both the North and South Islands, relations between the British and the Maori became more friendly and successful. It was in Cannibal Cove at the top of the Marlborough Sounds that Cook realized the Maori were, in fact, cannibals. The bones in the soup gave it all away. Cook knew the land was not the great southern continent, but claimed it for Great Britain, nonetheless. Cook returned to New Zealand on two more journeys – in 1773 and 1777, both times on board the Resolution. During his travels, particularly the first one on the Endeavour, many flora and fauna samples were collected. Cook was killed in 1779 on a beach in Hawaii.

At the same time as Cook’s first exploration of New Zealand, the French ship St. Jean Baptiste was sailing around the same seas under Jean-François-Marie de Surville. The Endeavour and the Baptiste passed by each other off the northern coast of the North Island, but neither explorer was aware of the other’s presence. The French ship was on a trading mission and anchored in what Cook had named Doubtless Bay. In 1772, Marion du Fresne sailed into the Bay of Islands and spent five weeks before most of his crew was killed, having likely done something to violate a tapu (taboo).

The Moriori

The Moriori arrived on the Chatham Islands (800 km/500 miles east of Christchurch), which they named Rekohu, around (or just before) the time the Maori were settling the mainland. For some time, the history books claimed that the Moriori were actually the first settlers of the South Island and were either driven away by the Maori or had left on their own to explore the Chathams. There is little evidence, however, to support this theory.

Like many of the Pacific tribes of the time (including the Maori), warring between tribes was bringing the downfall of the Moriori and leading to a decline in population. Chief Nunuku Whenua ordered an end to war and, following his decree, it was instituted that if disagreements occurred, fighting was stopped at the first drop of blood. In this way, the Moriori developed into a peaceful nation.

The population rose to 2,000 and the Moriori lived in isolation with their main activities being the hunting of birds, shellfish and seals. Europeans arrived at Rekohu on the Chatham in 1791. British Lieutenant Broughton claimed the islands in the name of King George III and named them after his boat. Broughton and crew encountered confusion not unlike what happened to Abel Tasman. Skirmishes broke out, and a number of Moriori were left dead.

Two years later, the Chathams became the center of the whaling and sealing industries from Europe and North America. The Moriori had tapus (taboos) against killing on the animal’s breeding grounds, but these tapus were ignored and the slaughter of breeding animals led to a decline in not only the wildlife, but whales and seals, mainstays of the Moriori diet.

The Europeans weren’t the only ones to invade the Chathams. In search of more land, Maori, mainly from Wellington, arrived in 1835 and claimed the Chathams as their own. The peaceful Moriori were killed and captured, their numbers dropping to 101. By the 1870s most Moriori had left the Chathams and the last full-blooded Moriori, Tame Horoman Rehe Solomon (Tommy Solomon) died in 1933.

Beginning in the late 1790s, more European settlers arrived in New Zealand. This time they were whalers, sealers and missionaries. They established settlements on the coasts and brought disease, prostitution, alcohol and Christianity. The sealers all but decimated the seal population, and the whalers did the same to the whales. The strong, straight, giant kauri trees didn’t go unnoticed, and the British navy began felling the mighty trees to provide masts and spars for their ships; others did the same, filling orders from Sydney shipbuilders.

It was a wild time in the frontier, especially so because the Europeans brought firearms. The meaning of that wasn’t lost on the Maori – who could now fight their enemy with a previously unknown vengeance. Maori began to trade their valuables – food, pounamu (greenstone), and the preserved heads of fallen chiefs – for firearms, and inter-tribal warfare took on a new significance. As agriculture became more efficient, tribes had more time for war and, with the introduction of European disease, mass slaughter at the hands of musket-toting warriors, the trading of food for weapons, and the introduction of prostitution, the Maori lifestyle changed completely and the population began to shrink. By 1800, the Maori population is believed to have reached a peak of 100,000 but, by the 1830s, the Maori population was dropping dramatically.

Enter the missionaries. In 1814, Samuel Marsden was the first to bring Christianity to New Zealand and other missionaries followed. During the following 20 years, intertribal warfare slowed dramatically and cannibalism was basically a thing of the past. European cures for the imported diseases arrived and things were starting to look up. But at the same time, Maori lost a lot of their land, and also a big part of their lifestyle and culture.

The British government was dealing with the ramifications of its global presence and tendency to invade anything anywhere and was not too keen to shower on the new little country much attention and support. In the early 1830s, leaders from some of the Northern Maori tribes approached the British for friendship and support. In answer, the Crown sent one James Busby. Poor Busby, who had been living in Australia, growing grapes and making wine, really wasn’t cut out for the job as Lieutenant Governor and had little in the way of support from home – he wasn’t even given firearms to enforce the will of the Crown.

In 1839, there were about 2,000 pakeha (Europeans) living in New Zealand, mainly in the Bay of Islands and things were really getting out of control on the land issues. The French had arrived and were establishing themselves around Akaroa on the South Island, land speculators from Australia were coming across the Tasman and even an American consul was set up. Busby, no doubt at his wits end, pushed the British government into action. The Crown sent Captain William Hobson as Lieutenant Governor. His task was, by way of treaty, to gain British rule of New Zealand. (Busby, sadly, returned to England because of failing health and died shortly thereafter.)

In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, making New Zealand a British colony. The treaty, an agreement between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs, guaranteed that the Maori would remain in control of their land, fisheries and culture, but, in exchange, they would lose sovereignty. It established British law, but the concepts were not clearly understood by the Maori. There are two versions of The Treaty, one in English and one in Maori, and they are not exactlythe same.

One of the stipulations in at least the English version of the treaty was that land would be sold by Maori to only the British Crown, who could then sell the land to other buyers – in effect, policing the buying and selling of land that had begun to swirl out of control.

Colonization continued and, after the signing of The Treaty, there was a huge increase in British migrants, many sent by The New Zealand Company. The New Zealand Company was fashioned after the ideas of Edward Gibbon Wakefield who wanted to settle New Zealand in a more systematic and scientific fashion than, say, America had been settled. The plan was to buy up tracts of land from the Crown and sell it to investors in planned communities. The settlements were intended to be self-sufficient, living harmoniously with neighboring Maori. Between 1840 and 1860, 40,000 pakeha arrived, making the Maori and pakeha populations nearly equal.

The first few years after the treaty were a mess, as disputes arose when waves of settlers arrived and more land was desired than was available. The capital was moved from Russell to Auckland and in Russell the Northland war broke out following the repeated felling of the British flagpole by Northland chief Hone Heke. Things were, once again, out of control. Sir George Grey was named governor (New Zealand’s third) and by the mid-1840s, he had quieted most of the disputes; but when he was sent to Cape Town in the 1850s, the New Zealand wars began to gain steam. Wars were fought in Northland (mid-1840s), Taranaki (intermittently through the 1860s), King Country and Waikato (mid-1860s) and on the east coast (late 1860s).

In the late 1800s, a labor shortage brought more migration from Britain and Europe. By the turn of the century, there were over half a million pakeha and the numbers of Maori had diminished to about 40,000. The kauri gum trade (see section on Northland) in the late 1800s brought nearly 5,000 Dalmatians (from present day Croatia); and during the mid- to late 1800s, a flood of Scots arrived and settled mostly in Otago and Southland. Immigration by Europeans, Americans, Australians and the Chinese continued with the discovery of gold in Otago in the 1860s. By the 1880s the population was around half a million. Railways and roads were being built and farming was becoming an economic mainstay. During WWI, many New Zealanders returned to Great Britain to fight on her behalf. In 1935, a Labour government was elected that brought changes like a 40-hour work week and state-funded health and welfare systems. By the 1950s, New Zealand enjoyed full employment and export demand for its agricultural products fueled a boom.

Following an agreement between the New Zealand and Dutch governments in the mid-20th century, a large population of Dutch immigrants settled around the country.

Did you know?New Zealand exports tulip bulbs to Holland.

With a severe labor shortage, New Zealand turned to the Pacific Islands, and during the 1960s and 1970s a large number of Pacific Islanders settled around Auckland, making Auckland the largest Polynesian city in the world. During the 1970s and 1980s, New Zealand’s economy deteriorated in response to losing ground in export markets (the UK joined the EC). Unemployment, previously unheard of, was on the rise. In the late 1980s, Labour was elected and again brought sweeping reform – industry deregulation, the removal of government subsidies and the privatization of some government departments. Unemployment has dropped and currently rests around 4.5%.

New Zealand has remained tied to Britain, with the Crown’s influence on government, education and culture quite obvious through the last 200 years. However, as New Zealand has become more comfortable in its own skin and developed a stronger sense of self, today there is increasing talk of becoming a republic.

Dates inhistory:New Zealand gained Dominion status within the British Empire in 1907; was granted autonomy in 1931; and the Statute of Westminster was formally accepted in 1947.

The Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi is called New Zealand’s founding document. Hobson drew up the treaty, had it translated, and, after debate, The Treaty was signed on February 6, 1840 at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. Today, the grounds and building where The Treaty was signed are preserved and open to the public.

The Treaty was written and entered into with, no doubt, honorable intentions on all sides. But it is today, as it was in 1840, a source of constant debate and misunderstanding; it has continued to present problems in interpretation from both sides. Written in English and translated to Maori, the two versions each contain three articles, but vary widely in their interpretation.

In 1975, following a decade of activism, the New Zealand government established the Waitangi Tribunal to investigate Maori land claims. Many settlements have been made, some in the form of financial compensation (some particularly large claims have been paid to major iwi (tribes) and some in the form of health care, and educational services.

The Treaty of Waitangi is not history – it is a living document that is central to the law and culture of New Zealand. In 2004, a heated debate is ongoing – certain iwi have filed claims to regain control of the foreshore and seabed, and, as I write, this is one of the hottest topics in the news. The results of the foreshore debate will no doubt mold the future of New Zealand. Prime Minister Helen Clark recently suggested an inquiry into the Treaty – to once and for all clear up misinterpretation from both sides.

Geography & Land

One of the most striking aspects of New Zealand is that virtually in the middle of nowhere is an incredibly immense range of scenery all tucked into a very small space. New Zealand sits in the South Pacific Ocean, 1,900 km (1,200 miles) east of Australia and 10,000 km (6,210 miles) west of San Francisco. It lies between 34°S and 47°S and stretches for some 1,770 km (1,097 miles) in length from top to bottom (California is 770 miles long). The North and South islands are the two major landmasses, the North being 114,500 square km (44,655 square miles) in area, the South being 150,700 square km (58,773 square miles). Stewart Island, directly south of the South Island is the third largest, with a land mass of 1,750 square km (6,825 square miles).

New Zealand from space

Did you know? In addition to the main islands, New Zealand is also made up of many outer islands, including the Chathams, Kermadecs, Tokelau, Campbell, Auckland, Antipodes, Snares, and the Ross Dependency.

New Zealand has long been celebrated for its clean, green image and, while a small island nation, it is rich in natural resources. It is a mountainous land – about 20% of the North Island and 65% of the South Island are mountains. The North Island, home to most of the population, has beaches, kauri forests, lakes, volcanoes and thermal areas. The South Island is punctuated by a more dramatic landscape including the mountains and glaciers of the Southern Alps, dense, lush bush and deep fjords. Approximately 50% of land is in meadows and pastures; 30% is forested and 15% is under permanent cultivation. Sheep and cattle grazing is virtually everywhere, but is most predominant around Hamilton and New Plymouth on the North Island and around Dunedin and Invercargill on the South Island. One of the unfortunate realities is that nearly all of New Zealand land has, at one time or another, been farmed. There is quite an effort to regenerate bush, but many stands of old-growth native trees have been lost.

Underneath New Zealand, are two tectonic plates – the Pacific and the Indo-Australian – that are constantly shifting, grinding and sliding. The geography of the North Island is the result of both tectonic and volcanic forces. The island sits at the southern end of a subduction zone created from the sliding of the Pacific Plate under the Indo-Australian Plate and, while the hills of the Tararuas and Ruahines are a result of tectonic uplifts, the highest places on the island were produced by volcanic action. The Taupo Volcanic Zone stretches from White Island to Mt. Ruapahu, includes both dormant and active volcanoes, and dominates the Central Plateau.

The South Island is dominated by the 500-km (300-mile) spine of the Southern Alps. With the majority of our weather patterns coming from across the Tasman, the western side of the Alps is punctuated with rainforest, glaciers and fast-flowing rivers; the eastern side of the Alps is home to the vast, flat Canterbury Plains and the rolling Otago farmland.

We get a lot of rain in New Zealand (see climate section) and, consequently, a lot of moving water – there are rivers and waterfalls everywhere! Our longest river is the Waikato (425 km/260 miles) and the longest navigable one is the Whanganui. Both are in the North Island.

Overhead, the night sky shows stars out of view in the Northern Hemisphere. The most notable difference is the presence of the Southern Cross, which is represented on our national flag. Its long axis points to the South Pole. You might also notice Orion – not only is the guy standing on his head, but his belt is just about in the water.

National Parks

Tongariro was the first national park to be established in New Zealand and only the second in the world (Yellowstone in the United States was the first). Today, our 13 national parks cover over five million acres of land – one-third of the country. In addition, we have three maritime parks – the Bay of Islands, the Hauraki Gulf and the Marlborough Sounds. The Department of Conservation (DoC) was established in 1987 with the responsibility of conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage. Prior to the formation of DoC, responsibilities were spread among several government agencies. DoC maintains a fabulous network of walking and tramping tracks, huts, and campsites, as well as parks, reserves and sanctuaries. Theirs is an amazing responsibility! Information about DoC, its projects and the park system can be found by visiting www.doc.govt.nz.


Te UreweraArthurs Pass



WhanganuiAorkaki/Mt. Cook

Abel TasmanMount Aspiring


Nelson LakesRakiura


New Zealand lies in an area called the Roaring Forties, or mid-latitudes – meaning that we are midway between the tropics and the poles. Our weather occurs because two sources of air – warm and moist from the tropics, and cold and dry from the poles – do not mix well. When they meet, the air from one swirls around the air from the other and causes low-pressure areas called depressions. Fronts are formed when the two conflicting air systems bang into each other.

Our weather typically comes from west to east (the predominant wind is westerly) and arrives on land after traveling over large areas of water. The predominant weather pattern comes in the form of anticyclones. Anticyclones generally move eastward every six to seven days and are characterized by descending air, settled weather patterns, little or no rain and clear skies – they are highs. Between these highs or anticyclones, are troughs of low pressure. These troughs are often cold, oriented from the northwest to the southeast, and bring northwesterly winds. The wind typically becomes stronger, the clouds increase and rain develops. After the rain passes, there is often a system change to cold, wet southwesterly winds.

When the systems hit the land, the mountain chains, particularly the Southern Alps, disrupt the flow of air and catch a lot of the rain. On the South Island, the western slopes are the wettest area of the country, while the eastern side is the driest. On the North Island, the mountain ranges don’t extend the length of the island and the weather patterns from one side to the other are not so dramatically different.

On the coasts, summer sea breezes predominate – one day may be highlighted with northeasterlies, the next southwesterlies.

Keep inmind:New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s the southerlies that are cold – there’s nothing between us and Antarctica!

While westerly is generally the predominant wind pattern, some months and some regions see a different trend. For instance, southerlies are common in northern Taranaki. Over the year, wind patterns change – on the North Island, summer and autumn have lighter winds, while on the South Island, winter is generally a more settled time. Wind strength is buffeted by the mountain ranges, but whereever there is a break in the land masses – for instance the Foveaux Strait between the South Island and Stewart Island, the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands, and the Manawatu Gorge, where the break occurs between the Tararuas and the Ruahines – wind increases and can become dramatic. Windy Wellington didn’t get its name for nothing – it averages 173 days a year with gusts over 60 km/hour (36 miles/hour).

In general, rainfall is spread throughout the year, but on the North Island, winter can be twice as wet as summer. The average rainfall across the country varies from 300 mm (11 inches) in one Central Otago location to over 8,000

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