About New Zealand

A general introduction to New Zealand, the facts and the figures.


Wanderlust Magazine

For the third year running the readers of Britain's Wanderlust travel magazine have voted New Zealand as their favourite destination.
Other notable rewards:
›Top Major Airline : Singapore Airlines
›Worldwide Airport: Singapore Changi

New Zealand facts


New Zealand lies in the South Pacific Ocean, 1600 km east of Australia, and is one of the most isolated countries in the world. The two main islands and a number of smaller ones together make up a land area of 270.530 sq km, comparable in size to the British Isles and Japan. The North and South island are seperated by the +20 km wide Cook Strait. There are about 4 million inhabitants of which two-third live on the North island, and of them about one million in Auckland, the country's largest city, and the largest city in the Pacific region. The capital of New Zealand is Wellington (334.000 inhabitants). New Zealand has two official languages, English and Maori.


The Maori were the first humans to arrive on New Zealand, around 1300. They call it Aotearoa, "the land of the long white cloud". Today they make out about 15% of the total New Zealand population.
Maori excel in wood, bone and stone carving, and in plaiting and weaving. They pass their ancestral knowledge through oratory, chant, song and dance, which are displayed in rituals of challenge, welcome and farewell. These songs are performed with the whole body, using hands, legs, arms and facial expressions, all playing a part in the ritual. The most famous ritual chant is the 'haka', a war dance performed by men.

The name New Zealand

The first usage of the name is attributed to the Dutch Captain Willem Jansz. On his voyages (starting around 1620) he observed an island off the coast of New Guinea, which he named “Nieu Zelandt.” Many maps recorded the name “Nieu Zelandt” as recently as the late 1700s. Other maps appearing as early as 1645 carried the name “Zeelandia Nova” (meaning “new sea land”).
Still, why 'New Zealand'?
Some historians suggest the land was named after the one of the Dutch provinces, Zeeland, in the south-west of the Netherlands, which was separated from the province of Holland by the sea (thus “Sea-land”). Australia was given the name Hollandia Nova (New Holland) and so Zeelandia Nova (New Zeeland), separated by an expanse of ocean, makes sense.
Other historians suggest that Zeeland was the name of the second most important chamber of the Dutch East India Company. Thus, they suggest the island was named after this chamber (which in turn was named after the Dutch province Zeeland).

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