Political development: Although we have only 4.25 million people, New Zealand is a developed country and ranks highly on international comparisons. We are a bi-cultural nation and although the most commonly spoken language is English, New Zealand has three official languages including Māori and New Zealand sign language. The population of New Zealand is mostly of European descent and indigenous Māori is the largest minority. Asians and non-Māori Polynesians are also significant minority groups, especially in urban areas.
The Treaty of Waitangi is regarded as New Zealand’s founding document, and it endures to influence the relationship between Māori and the Crown today. The Treaty is an agreement between the British Crown and Māori chiefs written in 1840, in both Māori and English. It enabled the British to establish a government in New Zealand and confirmed to Māori the right to continue to exercise rangatiratanga (the right of Māori to rule themselves).
New Zealand is a Constitutional Monarchy under the Queen of England. The Queen has no real political influence, and her position is essentially symbolic. New Zealand is an independent state of the Commonwealth and is governed by Parliament in Wellington. We have a mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system. The Beehive, our parliament building is an interesting place for a visit (You will even get to see the building’s foundations).
Agriculture: Traditionally New Zealand has been known as the country of 30 million sheep and 10 million cattle. We still have way more livestock than people and, if you travel in springtime, you will understand why pastoral farming is a significant industry. We also have extensive forestry, horticulture, aquaculture and beekeeping industries. New Zealand is free of some the pest and diseases that are problematic for agricultural production in other countries, because it is geographically isolated. That’s why our biosecurity guys work to limit the entry of risks at air and sea ports.
Birdspotting: New Zealand is blessed with many unique bird species. As you travel, you will visit a variety of landscapes that our bird population calls home, including estuaries, beaches, rocky headlands, wetlands, rivers, lakes, forests, mountains and offshore sanctuary islands close to the mainland. You are likely to spot some species even if you don’t activity seek them out. Just a word of warning - if you are heading into the mountains you are likely to meet with, or be bedevilled by, our mountain parrot or Kea. They are mischievous more than malicious but be sure you don’t leave your gear unguarded.
Plant and gardens: New Zealand has native flora too, and around 80% of our trees, ferns and flowering plants are endemic. You will see naturally occurring native flora in unique ecosystems:
- Tall kauri and kohekohe forests
- Rainforest dominated by rimu, beech, tawa, matai, rata and ferns
- Swamp, peatland and inter-tidal wetland forests
- Dunelands with their spinifex, pingao
- Alpine herb fields
- Scrub and tussock.
New Zealand also has an amazing variety of public gardens, and private garden that allow visitors. Some were laid out by early landowners and continue to thrive with care and creativity. There are impressive plant collections, themed gardens, and lots of passionate gardeners.
Talk to First Light Travel about features that you want to work in to your holiday. Aren’t you getting excited?