New Zealand offers student visitors an excellent education and a safe, friendly and fun place to study with many opportunities to have new experiences and make new friends.
New Zealand is a beautiful country full of adventure. There are many things to do and places to visit when taking breaks from study. While there are many beautiful natural areas to visit New Zealand is also a modern vibrant multicultural country that offers great shopping, excellent food and a great social life.
People & Culture
New Zealanders are friendly and welcoming towards visitors. They are relaxed and informal and like to call you by your first name. The country was once a British colony and nearly everybody speaks English.
After settlement by Maori most settlers to New Zealand came originally from England, Scotland and Ireland; but the early gold rushes brought prospectors from many countries including China. In the second half of the 20th century many migrants have come from the Pacific Islands and Asia. Recent statistics show that 74% of New Zealanders are from European ethnic groups, 15% are Maori, 5% Pacific Island Polynesian, and over 5% Asian (mostly Chinese, Indian and Korean). Many Asian and Pacific immigrants have settled in Auckland.
Currently New Zealand has a total population of just over 4 million. The major cities from north to south are Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city with a population of over 1 million people and Wellington is the national capital.
Other cities and major towns are Whangarei, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Napier, Hastings, Wanganui, Palmerston North and Masterton in the North Island and Invercargill, Timaru, Queenstown, Blenheim, and Nelson in the South Island.
New Zealand shows great diversity in cultural pursuits. The arts, crafts, drama, filmmaking, music and dance are flourishing. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has been praised by visiting conductors and has been invited to tour overseas. New Zealand also has a thriving band and club scene with all genres of music well supported.
The very successful 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy was also made in New Zealand by New Zealand director, Peter Jackson, and shows much of the beautiful land.
No humans lived in New Zealand until about 1000 years ago, when Maori arrived in canoes from across the Pacific Ocean. They called it ‘Aotearoa’ (The Land of the Long White Cloud). They settled in different parts of the country and today the tribes can trace their ancestry back to the first canoes. Maori developed an agricultural society, living in villages and making tools and weapons of bone and stone and developing carving and other arts.
The first Europeans to reach the country were Dutch and arrived in two ships commanded by Abel Tasman in 1642. In 1769 the British explorer James Cook charted the coastline very thoroughly. During the early 1800s European settlers started to arrive and on 6th February 1840 representatives of the British government negotiated a treaty with a large meeting of Maori chiefs at a village called Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands.
This is regarded as New Zealand’s founding document and it signalled a partnership between Maori and the arriving European settlers. At this time there were about 100,000 Maori and 2000 Europeans in the country but the numbers of Europeans increased rapidly. Europeans tended to disregard the treaty but the Maori have honoured it as a sacred bond. In the 1860s there were bitter wars when more and more settlers arrived taking Maori lands.
In the early 20th century New Zealand became independent from Britain, although the Queen of England remains as New Zealand’s official head of State. NZ participated alongside its allies in WWI, WWII and, since the 1950s to the present day, in peacekeeping operations throughout the world. While it continues to remain close with traditional friends like Britain, Australia and the US, New Zealand has gradually developed its own distinct view of world events and its place in the world. New Zealand has developed from a British colony into a proud multicultural country with European, Pacific and Asian influences mixing with traditional Maori culture.
New Zealand is a diverse country with sunny beaches, great rainforests, snow capped mountains and volcanoes.
New Zealand is made up of 2 main islands, the North Island and the larger South Island, as well as Stewart Island at the tip of the South Island and a number of smaller islands both close to the main islands and some further out in the Pacific and Southern Oceans. The North Island is mostly rolling hills with some major mountains while the South is split between the wet mountainous west coast and the drier flat Canterbury plains on the eastern side.
The climate is temperate, moderated by the oceans that surround the country. The north, especially the far north, is generally mild throughout the year. The south experiences four definite seasons, summer, autumn, winter and spring. It is one of the best climates in the world for plant growth, with rain at all seasons and mostly warm temperatures and it has a reputation for being ‘clean and green’. The weather is however very changeable throughout the country and it can be sunny, rainy, then sunny again all in a few hours.
New Zealand was isolated for millions of years during which time many unique plants and animals developed. In the absence of predators it became a paradise for birds, some of which lost the power of flight, such as the kiwi and the giant moa, which is now extinct. One strange animal is the tuatara, a small lizard related to the dinosaurs. Marine-life such as penguins, dolphins and whales can be seen around the country.
With the arrival of humans there has been the introduction of pest animals such as cats, rats, stoats, deer and possums which all affect the native environment and wildlife. There are many efforts around the country to try and help the native wildlife survive.
Sport & Recreation
New Zealanders are passionate about sport. Popular sports range from games like rugby union, rugby league, netball, cricket, softball and soccer to individual pursuits like surfing, skiing, tramping and golf.
Sailing is very popular especially in Auckland, which is known as ‘the city of sails’. Fishing and gardening are also popular. Many types of adventure sports and activities can be done and bungy jumping, invented in New Zealand, can be done at locations throughout the country especially Queenstown ‘the adventure sport capital of the world’.
Economy & Politics
New Zealand is a stable, democratic nation depending on world trade for its prosperity. Main income arises from exports from farms (mostly lamb, wool, beef and dairy products), orchards and forests as well as tourism. Chief markets are Australia, Japan, the UK, USA and China. New Zealand also has a growing number of technology and service focused companies in areas such as telecommunications, software development and finance.
New Zealand has no written constitution but has a parliamentary government lead by a Prime Minister. The system is based on the British Westminster system. The Queen of England remains the official head of state although she has no power concerning any decisions made. A Governor General represents her in New Zealand. Sine 1996 the voting system for parliament has been a mixed member proportional (MMP) system. This gives each voter two votes; one for an electorate, and the second to decide the number of seats that each party shall have in parliament. This relatively new system has resulted in coalition governments in which two or three parties share power.
Driving & Transportation
New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road and driving conditions are generally good. On the open road the speed limit is usually 100 km per hour. New Zealand police are strict on speeding and there are many speed cameras placed beside open roads to catch offenders. Most overseas visitors and students may use the driving licence of their own nationality for one year but then they must get a New Zealand licence. Membership of the Automobile Association is inexpensive and recommended. AA offers a breakdown service, advises on travel and insurance, and helps with car sales and purchase advice.
All cities and major towns have airports that are easily reached by connecting through the major international gateway of Auckland. Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin also have international airports although some only with flights to Australia. Trains connect the major cities in the North and South Islands although there are only a few services a day. Bus travel is generally the cheapest way to travel around the country by public transportation. All the major cities have suburban bus routes. Auckland and Wellington each have a small suburban train network. Between the North and South islands there is a ferry route running from Wellington in the North Island to Picton in the South.
Visitors to New Zealand must take out health insurance to cover the costs of care in case of injury or sickness. Health care is of world class standard and drinking water is clean and safe throughout the country. Dangerous infectious diseases are not common and no immunisations are necessary to visit.