New Zealand
Country profile

New Zealand: Country overview

Located in the Southern Hemisphere, south-east of Australia, New Zealand's total size is slightly less than the surface of Colorado in the US. The country comprises the North and South Island. According to Maori legend the north Island was named after a fish caught by demi-god, Maui, and the south island after the canoe he was sitting in when he caught it.

New Zealand is perhaps most known internationally for its high-performing rugby team, the All Blacks, and their inimitable pre-game war-dance - the Haka - and the stunning and breathtaking scenery of New Zealand has been brought to living rooms around the globe with The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

This beautiful country offers plenty of sight-seeing diversions for the visitor and every kind of activity is available, from whale and dolphin spotting to jet-boating or sky-diving. Known as the Land of the Long White Cloud because of its long, thin shape New Zealand could also be called the land of adventures. The lakeside town of Queenstown on the south island attracts thousands of visitors each year for the very latest in adrenalin-pumping adventure sports like canyon swinging or heli-skiing.

There are five major cities - Wellington (the capital city located in the south-western tip of the north island), Auckland (North Island), Christchurch (south island), Queenstown (south island) and Dunedin (south island). Both of the islands have extensive mountain ranges, rivers and national parks and in the snow season visitors can ski or snowboard, and in the summer enjoy endless miles of stunning sandy beaches - perfect for surfing, boogie boarding or horse-riding.

Latte-drinking urbanites will enjoy the cosmopolitan cities of Wellington and Auckland, especially as Wellington is believed to have more cafes per capita than New York City, and is the county's cultural as well as political capital. Auckland (New Zealand's largest city) is known as the city of sails due to its stunning waterside location.

Wine buffs can tour some of the islands' award-winning wineries to sample the internationally-acclaimed New Zealand grape and cuisine, and those in search of natural spa healing should visit the geothermal city of Rotoruain the North Island to soak in hot mineral pools and learn more about the fascinating Maori culture.

Tourism is a burgeoning industry, and in recent years New Zealand has been attracting international patients to take advantage of competitively priced private medical treatments in first class hospitals and combining their treatments with medical holidays in this dream destination.

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Quick facts

Population: 4.5 Million
Currency: New Zealand dollar
Capital: Wellington
Languages: English
Religions: Christian (various) 55%