Far out in the South Pacific Ocean, some 1600 kilometres south-east of Australia, New Zealand is comprised of 2 large islands - North Island and South Island. While North Island boasts a number of large volcanoes, South Island is the more mountainous of the two with the Southern Alps running almost its entire length. The scenery of the South Island is varied and contrasting. Craggy coastlines dotted with sweeping beaches rise up through dense forest and alpine meadows to snow-capped mountains. Amongst the most impressive peaks are Mount Aspiring and Mount Cook (3754m), known by the indigenous Maori people as Aoraki, the 'Cloud Piercer'. The highlights of any tour of New Zealand include visiting the adventure capital of Queenstown, taking a cruise on Milford Sound at Fiordland, hiking on the Queen Charlotte Track and making the tough North Island day-hike known as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. New Zealand is a sparsely populated territory, with only around 4 million inhabitants, most of whom have British ancestry. Known as 'Kiwis', after the country's flightless national bird, New Zealanders are renowned for their relaxed and friendly outlook on life.


New Zealand is an island country in the far south-western Pacific; because of its remoteness it was one of the last landmasses to be settled by humans. The country is 1500kms east of Australia and 1000kms south of the Pacific island groups including Fiji and New Caledonia. There are 2 dominant cultural groups New Zealanders of European descent who arrived in the last 3 centuries and the minority Maori who's antecedents arrived from Polynesia 1000 years ago. The country is split into 2 main islands, North and South, and there are numerous smaller islands. The landscape is diverse and spectacular, with glacier-carved mountains, lakes, beaches and thermal springs. The North Island is 115,777 sq km and consists of low volcanic mountains, and because of its volcanic past features hot springs and geysers. The South Island is 151,215sq km and contains the Southern Alps, a mountain range covered in glaciers with the highest point being Mt Cook (Aoraki in Maori) at 3,764m above sea level. Because of the remote geographical location, most of the flora and fauna is unique to the country and it is considered a biodiversity hotspot. Total population is just 4.4 million people, 76% of whom live on the North Island. Agriculture is a mainstay of the economy, but manufacturing and tourism are vitally important.

Time Zone

New Zealand is GMT + 12 hours. In summer New Zealand changes to `Daylight Saving` and clocks switch to GMT + 13 hours.