New Zealand - North Island

Click on the black dot next to a place to see pictures taken there -

Imagemap of North Island

About New Zealand

History

New Zealand is the most remote of any major country; the nearest civilisation (?) to it being Australia - 1500km to the west. Between them lies the Tasman Sea; named after the Dutch sailor Abel Tasman who sighted the South Island in December 1642. Tasman did not receive a friendly welcome by the native Maori (who had been on the islands for perhaps 800 years previously) and no further expeditions took place until 1769 when James Cook circumnavigated both islands in the Endeavour.

Mass immigration began after 1840 with the Treaty of Waitangi which marked acceptance by the Maori of British rule. There followed, however, a series of wars with the Maori who realized that they had got the rough end of the deal.

1861 saw the start of a gold rush, and the metal is still being mined today on a small scale. A far larger industry began in 1882 when refrigeration equipment made it possible to export meat to Britain. This formed the mainstay of New Zealand's overseas earnings until 1973 when Britain joined the EC. Since then tourism has brought in the largest slice of foreign currency.

Geography

There are now about three and a half million people ('Kiwis' as they seem happy to be called) in New Zealand. About three quarters of them live on the North Island - despite its being barely half the area of the South Island. Much of the South is taken up by the 'Southern Alps' including Mt. Cook at 3764m. These mountains are the result of New Zealand's location at the border of the Indo-Australian tectonic plate and the Pacific plate. This line continues up through the North Island where geothermal activity is felt as earthquakes and seen as volcanoes, hot springs and geysers.

The climate is very variable both from day to day and also from one area to the next but, in general, the north is warmer.

Comparison to Australia

There isn't one, they say. What they do say (and as a shutterbug I like this one) -

Have you heard about the new fast film that they've brought out? It's so fast you can actually take a picture of an Aussie with his mouth shut. 'Xenophobes Guide to the Kiwis', Christine Cole Cately.

As a Holiday

A Briton wanting to avoid culture shock will find NZ ideal; they drive on the left, watch Coronation Street and elect governments which throw them out of work. Drive through the Southern Alps and you can imagine that it's the Lake District or Scotland. The Canterbury plain is much like Suffolk. The hotel bills will make your flexible friend weep.

The fun comes in noticing the differences; speed limits in kph, lakes which boil and gardens with contents nicer than our Rottweilers. The roads, except in city centres, are traffic free. Take a look at the sky at night; it's not got the lurid orange glow it has at home, but why is Orion upside down? It's not, you are.


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E-mail:R.Clarke@surrey.ac.uk
Last modified: 2014 February 1st.