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From mountain peaks to deep fiords to rolling plains, New Zealand’s landscapes offer incomparable beauty with a relatively small - yet very hospitable population. It’s an unspoiled nation of remarkable vistas, with more than half the country protected as national park or reserve land.

About the same size as California, the country is made up of three islands: the North Island, South Island, and Stewart Island. Each area is home to its own special treasures.

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The North Island, Auckland, Wellington and Rotorua

Sydney & New South WalesThe North Island is home to the international gateway, Auckland – a city located between two harbors and devoted to sailing culture. Auckland is a cosmopolitan city, with a population of over one million. It boasts a thriving cultural scene, with museums and galleries. The Auckland Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Maori artifacts.

Sydney & New South WalesIn the far north, the Bay of Islands is home to uncrowded beaches, ancient kauri forests, and fruit-growing areas. It’s a great place for golf, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and dolphin watching. The region is also home to much of New Zealand’s colonial history, including the Waitangi Treaty House, location of the treaty between the British and the Maori — the country’s first settlers, Polynesians who arrived about a thousand years ago.

Rotorua, toward the center of the North Island, is an area steeped in Maori culture. Visit the Maori Arts and Crafts Centre, or take part in an evening "Hangi" (feast) with a traditional song and dance show. You can even visit a replica Maori village, to learn what life was like in New Zealand before the arrival of European settlers. The region’s active geothermal features include boiling mud pools, spouting geysers, and natural spa pools. Between Rotorua and Auckland are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, featuring yawning caverns filled with stalagtites and stalagmites, and an underground river lit only by the eerie glow of tiny creatures high above.

At the southern end of the North Island lies Wellington, capital of New Zealand. Here, you can visit the Parliament buildings, botanic gardens, or the acclaimed Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. With over 350 restaurants, bars, and cafés, Wellington has more dining choices per capita than New York City!

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The South Island, Christchurch and Queenstown

Sydney & New South WalesThe South Island is home to some of New Zealand’s most striking landscapes… perfect for outdoor adventures.

Sydney & New South WalesChristchurch, the “Garden City,” is also called the “most English city outside England.” The largest city on the South Island, it is filled with beautiful parks and gardens, through which the Avon River runs. Whale-watching, visiting the International Antarctic Centre, punting on the Avon, hot air ballooning, and wine tasting are some highlights of a visit to Christchurch.

Toward the center of the South Island, Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. Activities include jetboat rides, garden tours, lake cruises, helicopter flights, bungy jumping, golf, skiing, gondola rides, guided walks, fishing, skydiving, wine tasting, and much more. If there’s any outdoor activity you crave, chances are you can find it in Queenstown! By far the most popular activity is the trip to Milford Sound, including a launch cruise on this stunning fiord.

Dunedin, New Zealand’s oldest city, is located on the southern coast. It is home to Edwardian heritage buildings, museums, galleries, and New Zealand’s first university. The nearby Otago Peninsula is a haven for wildlife, including seals, dolphins, albatross, and penguins.

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Size, Location, Population
1,400 miles east of Australia, New Zealand consists of two major islands (the North Island and the South Island) and one smaller island (Stewart Island). It is 1,000 miles long, and approximately the same size as Great Britain, with a population of only 3.5 million.

Time Zones
Pacific Standard Time + 19 hours (+18 hours during Pacific Daylight Time).

Entry Formalities
You must have a passport valid for at least 6 months following your departure from New Zealand. A visa is not required for US citizens for stays under 90 days.

New Zealand dollar. Decimal currency system. Notes: $5, $20, $50, $100. Coins: 5¢, 10¢, 20¢ and 50¢, $1 and $2.

Bank Hours
Banks are open Monday to Friday, 9:30am-4pm.

Departure Tax
NZ$25 per person.

230 volts, 50Hz. Most hotels provide 110V outlets for electric razors. Most power outlets accept three-pin flat plugs or similar adapters.

English is the common language of New Zealanders. The Maori people have their own tongue, which is the country's only indigenous language.

Monday through Thursday, 9am-5:30pm. Fridays, 9am-9pm. Exceptions: In some areas, late night shopping is Thursday, and in most cities shops are open Saturday mornings. Some shopping malls are open Sunday. New Zealand is perhaps best-known for its sheepskin products, but you will also find paua shell (abalone) and greenstone (jade) jewelry, woodcarvings, and many other handicrafts.

Tipping is not the custom, nor are service charges added. In restaurants, for special service, 10% is an appropriate amount. For taxi drivers or porters, NZ$1 will suffice for normal service.

Temperate climate - subtropical in the north,and colder in the alpine regions of the south.

The traditional Maori feast is the hangi - food cooked in baskets, in the ground, over hot stones, similar to a luau. There's no shortage of good meat and fresh vegetables. Fish and shellfish are always available, although if you are a trout lover, you must catch your own. The Bluff oyster is seasonal (April to July), but cultivated rock oysters are available fresh almost year 'round. A traditional dessert is the pavlova - meringue covered in loads of whipped cream, topped off with fresh fruit. The major cities have a wide range of excellent restaurants serving cuisine of many different nationalities.

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(*) Prices are US Dollars per person.