The basics Population: 4.3 million Capital: Wellington Religion: Christianity is the predominant religion Emergency numbers: 111 (police, ambulance and fire service) The key dates

While you’re there, please don’t… • try to bring natural products through customs. Biosecurity is treated very seriously in New Zealand. • eat or drink when inside a Maori wharenui (meeting house) – the house is considered a sacred area. Before you go, read … The Bone People by Keri Hulme (1984) – one of the country’s most successful novels, the story weaves tales of Maori myths and European heritage. How to Watch a Game of Rugby by Spiro Zavos (2004) – a sport journo’s book about New Zealand’s obsession with rugby. Before you go, watch … The Lord of the Rings – Peter Jackson’s first trilogy of Tolkien films showcases the New Zealand countryside majestically. Whale Rider – highly regarded drama about a twelve-year-old Maori girl who wants to become the chief of her tribe. They said it “New Zealand is not a small country but a large village.” – director Peter Jackson “Get the whanau together, stay in a bach, crack open the chilly box and slap on your jandals.” – Prime Minister John Key, joking about reasons to visit New Zealand “New Zealand is my favourite country to visit.” – surfer Tom Curren

6 February: Waitangi Day. New Zealand’s national day commemorates the first signing of the country’s founding document, the Treaty at Waitangi in 1840. 9 February: Marlborough Wine & Food Festival. New Zealand’s oldest and premier festival of its kind, in a stunning vineyard location. 25 April: Anzac Day. First observed in 1916, Anzac Day commemorates Australians and New Zealanders who lost their lives in war. 26 September – 6 October: WOW, World of Wearable Arts Awards Show, Wellington. An annual festival combining fashion, art, dance and music. The hot spots Popular destinations include Auckland, Lake Taupo, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Kaikoura, Raglan, Marlborough and Stewart Island. Three areas have World Heritage Site status, including New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic islands. Some itinerary ideas • South Island: Picton – Marlborough Sounds – Nelson – Kaikoura – Christchurch – Dunedin – Queenstown – Milford Sound • North Island: Auckland – Bay of Islands – Rotorua – Taupo – Wellington How to stay healthy • If you’re setting out on a hike or to climb a mountain, make sure somebody knows of your whereabouts – or contact the Department of Conservation (DOC). Weather can change quickly, making conditions very dangerous for anyone who isn’t adequately prepared. • While there are no snakes or other especially dangerous animals in New Zealand, small insects including sandflies can be an annoyance. (The Milford Track in the South Island ends at “Sandfly Point”.) Repellents and long- sleeved clothing can help.

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