New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island and the South Island and over 700 smaller islands, covering a total area of 268,021 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi).
New Zealand is about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the islands of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga.
Owing to their remoteness, the islands of New Zealand were the last large habitable lands to be settled by humans. Between about 1280 and 1350, Polynesians began to settle in the islands and then developed a distinctive Māori culture.
In 1642, the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands.
In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire, and in 1907 it became a dominion; it gained full statutory independence in 1947, and the British monarch remained the head of state.
Today, the majority of New Zealand’s population of 5 million is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Reflecting this, New Zealand’s culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration.
The official languages are Māori and New Zealand Sign Language, with English being dominant and a de facto official language.
Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest point in New Zealand, at 3,724 metres.
New Zealand is long and narrow over 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) along its north-north-east axis with a maximum width of 400 kilometres (250 mi) with about 15,000 km (9,300 mi) of coastline and a total land area of 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi).
Because of its far-flung outlying islands and long coastline, the country has extensive marine resources. Its exclusive economic zone is one of the largest in the world, covering more than 15 times its land area.
The South Island is the largest landmass of New Zealand. It is divided along its length by the Southern Alps.
Landscapes of New Zealand
New Zealand is part of a region known as Australasia, together with Australia.
It also forms the southwestern extremity of the geographic and ethnographic region called Polynesia.
The term Oceania is often used to denote the wider region encompassing the Australian continent, New Zealand and various islands in the Pacific Ocean that are not included in the seven-continent model.
New Zealand has an advanced market economy, ranked 14th in the 2019 Human Development Index and third in the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom. It is a high-income economy with a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of US$36,254.
The currency is the New Zealand dollar, informally known as the “Kiwi dollar”; it also circulates in the Cook Islands (see Cook Islands dollar), Niue, Tokelau, and the Pitcairn Islands.
Auckland and Christchurch are the largest cities of New Zealand.
Most of the major sporting codes played in New Zealand have British origins. Rugby union is considered the national sport and attracts the most spectators.
Frequently Asked Questions – New Zealand
Is New Zealand the same as Australia?
New Zealand is not physically part of Australia but separated from Australia by the Tasman Sea. The distance between Australia and New Zealand is approximately 1,500km (932 miles) at the closest point between the Australian island state of Tasmania and New Zealand’s South Island.
What language is mostly spoken in New Zealand?
According to the 2013 Census, English and Te Reo Māori are the most widely spoken languages in New Zealand. However, as Table 1 shows, in 2013 there were far more people speaking English (3,819,969 people or 90 per cent of the total population) than Te Reo Māori (148,395 people or 3 per cent of the population).
Is it better to live in Australia or New Zealand?
Life in New Zealand tends to move at a more relaxed pace. In 2019, New Zealand was ranked as the second safest country in the world. New Zealand has a lower crime rate than Australia. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any snakes!