New Zealand Travel Information

Photo The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the UK militarily in both World Wars. New Zealand's full participation in number of defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years the government has sought to address longstanding native Maori grievances.

New Zealand is known for its scenic landscapes of snowcapped mountains and rolling green pastures. Its image as a farming outpost stems from the traditional importance of agriculture to the economy as well as the low population density in most areas. However, the majority of New Zealanders live in urban areas, and many now earn a living in service industries such as tourism. The capital of New Zealand is Wellington. The largest and most cosmopolitan city is Auckland.

PEOPLE
Most of the 3.9 million New Zealanders are of British origin. About 18% claim descent from the indigenous Maori population, which is of Polynesian origin. Nearly 75% of the people, including a large majority of Maori, live on the North Island. In addition, 231,800 Pacific Islanders live in New Zealand. During the late 1870s, natural increase permanently replaced immigration as the chief contributor to population growth and has accounted for more than 75% of population growth in the 20th century. Nearly 85% of New Zealand's population lives in urban areas (with almost one-third in Auckland alone), where the service and manufacturing industries are growing rapidly. New Zealanders colloquially refer to themselves as "Kiwis," after the country's native bird.

HISTORY
Archaeological evidence indicates that New Zealand was populated by fishing and hunting people of East Polynesian ancestry perhaps 1,000 years before Europeans arrived. Known to some scholars as the Moa-hunters, they may have merged with later waves of Polynesians who, according to Maori tradition, arrived between 952 and 1150. Some of the Maoris called their new homeland "Aotearoa," usually translated as "land of the long white cloud."
ECONOMY
New Zealand's economy has been based on a foundation of exports from its very efficient agricultural system. Leading agricultural exports include meat, dairy products, forest products, fruit and vegetables, fish, and wool. New Zealand was a direct beneficiary of many of the reforms achieved under the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, with agriculture in general and the dairy sector in particular enjoying many new trade opportunities. The country has substantial hydroelectric power and reserves of natural gas. Leading manufacturing sectors are food processing, metal fabrication, and wood and paper products.
FOREIGN RELATIONS
New Zealand's foreign policy is oriented chiefly toward developed democratic nations and emerging Pacific economies. The country's major political parties generally have agreed on the broad outlines of foreign policy, and the current coalition government has been active in multilateral fora on issues of recurring interest to New Zealand--trade liberalization, environment, and arms control. New Zealand values the United Nations and its participation in that organization.
U.S.-NEW ZEALAND RELATIONS
Bilateral relations are excellent. The United States and New Zealand share common elements of history and culture and a commitment to democratic principles. Senior-level officials regularly consult with each on issues of mutual importance.

The United States established consular representation in New Zealand in 1839 to represent and protect American shipping and whaling interests. Since the United Kingdom was responsible for New Zealand's foreign affairs, direct U.S.-New Zealand diplomatic ties were not established until 1942, when the Japanese threat encouraged close U.S.-New Zealand cooperation in the Pacific campaign. During the war, more than 400,000 American military personnel were stationed in New Zealand to prepare for crucial battles such as Tarawa and Guadalcanal.

Important: Travel to New Zealand may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's New Zealand visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: none
Capital city: Wellington
Area: 267,710 sq km
Population: 4,327,944
Ethnic groups: European 56.8%, Asian 8%, Maori 7.4%, Pacific islander 4.6%, mixed 9.7%, other 13.5%
Languages: English
Religions: Protestant 38.6%
Government: parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Chief of State: Queen ELIZABETH II
Head of Government: Prime Minister John KEY
GDP: 123.7 billion
GDP per captia: 28,000
Annual growth rate: 1.3%
Inflation: 4%
Agriculture: dairy products, lamb and mutton
Major industries: food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transportation equipment, banking and insurance, tourism, mining
Natural resources: natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone
Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia
Trade Partners - exports: Australia 22.2%, China 12.5%, US 8.5%, Japan 7.1%
Trade Partners - imports: China 16.1%, Australia 15.9%, US 10.4%, Japan 6.3%, Singapore 4.6%, Germany 4.3%