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Friday 20th October
New Zealand Information - Page 1
Geography
New Zealand is situated in the South Pacific Ocean, south east of Australia. The country comprises of two main islands, North Island and South Island; there are also smaller islands: the Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, Kermadec Islands and Stewart Island. Dependent areas of New Zealand are the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau.

Wellington, on North Island, is both the capital city and a major port.

New Zealand is divided into sixteen regions: Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui, Marlborough, Nelson, Northland, Otago, Southland, Taranaki, Tasman, Waikato, Wellington and West Coast. The Chatham Islands form a territory.

Much of New Zealand is mountainous. The Southern Alps dominate South Island and North Island is hilly with coastal plains and volcanic mountains.

The climate is temperate with regional variations: sub-tropical in the north to sub-arctic in the higher elevations of South Island. There is volcanic activity in the region.

Environment
The terrain of New Zealand is varied: fjords, beaches, rivers, lakes, mountains, glaciers, grasslands and forests.

World Heritage sites are the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, south-east of New Zealand (the Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island and the Snares), Tongariro National Park in the centre of North Island, and Te Wahipounamu in South West New Zealand. Te Wahipounamu includes the Westland and Mount Cook National Park and the Fiordland National Park.

As a result of geographical isolation New Zealand is home to some unusual species of flora and fauna. Flora includes the kauri pine, the manuka (tea-tree), the golden kowhai, the scarlet pohutukaw, and the silver fern.

The tuatara, a reptilian prehistoric survivor found in New Zealand, has hardly evolved for millions of years. New Zealand is also the habitat of various flightless birds such as the kiwi, a national icon of the country.

Architecture
Carving is a respected art among the Maori people; Maori meeting houses are decorated with intricately carved designs.

Later migrants to New Zealand introduced European and American architectural styles. Victorian and Edwardian buildings can be seen in the city of Dunedin. Napier, which was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1931, is famous for Art Deco.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust (Pouhere Taonga) keeps a register of historic places and encourages owners to conserve and maintain them.

Population
New Zealand's population was estimated at 4,290,350 (2011) ranking New Zealand at 125th in world population tables. The majority of the people are of European origin. Other ethnic groups are Maori, Pacific Islander and Asian.

Languages
English and Maori are the official languages of New Zealand.

Religion
The majority of the people are Christian.

Food
New Zealand's cuisine reflects the importance of fishing, dairy farming and livestock farming. Fish, shellfish, dairy products and lamb, pork and beef feature in the day-to-day recipes of the country.

Migrants brought their own styles of food preparation with them; a variety of cuisines can be found in restaurants serving dishes from countries such as China and Japan.

New Zealand grows a variety of fruits including kiwi, passion fruit and tamarillos. Pavlova is a favourite dessert.

A first class wine industry produces wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Riesling. Beer is also produced.

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