After almost 20,000km, the moment when travellers, on their flights to New Zealand, see those two islands appear on the seat-back map, invites a gasp.
New Zealand’s two islands are breathtaking, sometimes appearing unreal. Towering mountains, simmering volcanoes, sweeping sandy beaches, majestic fjords (in aptly named Fiordland), glacial lakes and lush rainforests... it’s no wonder that when the makers of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia wanted to portray fairytale lands, they went on location to New Zealand.
More than a third of New Zealand’s land area is within a park or reserve. There are about 15,000 kilometres of coastline and more than 25 marine reserves.
A country the same size as the UK, it has a population of only four million. Its cities - Auckland and Wellington in the north and Christchurch and Dunedin in the south - are bright and bustling, but not crowded.
New Zealand has a tolerant and multi-cultural society. The indigenous Maori people have a fascinating culture, which has informed many parts of New Zealand life. With their non-Maori neighbours, New Zealanders are a friendly, laidback lot, outdoorsy with a famous Kiwi ruggedness.
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