South Pacific / New Zealand
New Zealand
The Kiwi - A National Icon
South Pacific / New Zealand
New Zealand
Mount Cook - New Zealand's Highest Peak
South Pacific / New Zealand
New Zealand
Central Otago Pinot Noir Vineyards
South Pacific / New Zealand
New Zealand
A Kea on the West Coast
South Pacific / New Zealand
New Zealand
All Blacks Performing the Haka

New Zealand

A thousand years ago Polynesians first arrived in a land they named Aotearoa, "the land of the long white cloud." It was a place unlike any they had ever seen, vast in comparison to the other islands they'd settled, with towering snow-capped mountain ranges, raging icy rivers, rolling bush-clad hills, long stretches of sandy coastline and thousands of square miles of forests in which grew trees taller than any they had known before. These Polynesian immigrants, the Maoris, were the first people awed by New Zealand's powerful beauty, but they were by no means the last - today the natural wonders of New Zealand continue to delight and astonish all those who arrive on the country's shores.

New Zealand is a land of startling contrast. Visitors can fly to the top of a 10,000-foot mountain and ski down a pristine snow field. Plunge off a bridge and plummet earthward until - boiing! - they're snapped back by "bungee cords" around their ankles. Cast a line into salmon-filled river waters at the base of a mountain range. Take a boat over dark, still waters in a breathtaking fjord. Watch a professional sheep-shearer strip an animal of its wool in seconds. Whip through narrow gorges and shallow rivers in an exhilarating jet-boat ride. Hike along foot trails past cascading waterfalls and fields of wildflowers. Hear a wild, rousing war chant performed by modern-day Maoris. Bask in a thermal pool heated by a nearby volcano. Shoot the rapids in racing mountain rivers. Feast on fresh-caught trout plucked out of well-stocked lakes. When they began arriving just under two centuries ago, European immigrants - marveling at the splendor they found - labeled New Zealand "God's Own" country. Those immigrants have since transformed New Zealand, building cities, creating huge farms, laying roads and train tracks and establishing such an Anglicized culture that people still joke that parts of New Zealand are "more English than England."

But with the largest Polynesian population of any nation in the world, New Zealand is also an island country with a culture firmly attuned to its Pacific past. And, perhaps above all, New Zealand is a nation where everyone is tied to the land by a deep respect for how generous nature has been to them. New Zealanders know their land is among the most beautiful and varied the world can offer-and they're waiting to share it with all who journey to see it.

 

 

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