New Zealand is a First World Country

New Zealand is seen by many travelers as the most beautiful country in the world. Because of its untouched nature with mountain landscapes, geysers, fjords, rainforests and beaches, but also big cities like Wellington and Auckland, the country has something to offer for everyone. Read everything about the land of the kiwis and the Maori here.

facts and figures

New Zealand is on the opposite side of the globe from Europe, about 22 hours by flight from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Many travelers therefore make a stopover in Hong Kong or Singapore before flying on to New Zealand. The country has more than 4.8 million inhabitants, including about half a million Maoris who are the original inhabitants of the islands.

languageEnglish, Maori, New Zealand Sign Language
total area275,042 km²
population4.8 million
religionChristianity (56%), many people with no religion, Hinduism (2.3%), Buddhism (1.5%) and Islam (1.2%)
currencyNew Zealand Dollar (NZD)
Time difference10 (summer time) to 12 hours (winter time)
Flight durationAbout 22 hours
electricityType I (travel plug required)
tap waterSafe to drink
visaVisa (NZeTA) required


New Zealand is a group of islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean and is part of Oceania. The country consists of two large islands, the North and South Islands, and more than 700 smaller islands. The North and South Islands are separated by the Cook Strait, one of the stormiest seas in the world. The strait was named after James Cook, who was the first European to sail through this strait. The ferry crossing between the two islands takes a little over three hours. The North Island is the most densely populated. New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, and the capital, Wellington, are both on the North Island. The North Island is volcanic with some volcanoes still active. The South Island, New Zealand's largest island, is mountainous, with 17 peaks over 3,000 meters. The South Island has varied landscapes with glaciers, waterfalls, fjords and valleys, but also sandy beaches.


Compared to other countries, New Zealand's history is relatively young. The island is one of the last countries to be settled by humans. The first inhabitants, the ancestors of today's Maori, came to New Zealand from the Polynesian Islands. Historians disagree on exactly when New Zealand was first inhabited. The first settlements emerged between 1250 and 1300 AD.

European voyages of discovery
The first Europeans to reach New Zealand were the Dutch captain Abel Tasman and his crew. On behalf of the governor of the Dutch-East Indian Society (the VOC), they left Batavia in Indonesia (today's Jakarta) to look for the expected “great southern land” south of today's Australia. The men were attacked by the Maoris and some of them were killed. Abel Tasman failed to trade with the Maoris. The small island south of Australia that Abel Tasman first discovered (and which is part of Australia) was later called Tasmania, and the land discovered by Captain Tasman was named after the Dutch province of Zeeland (in German: Zealand, therefore New Zealand).

The English captain James Cook made two voyages around the world a century later, between 1769 and 1774, and discovered the passage between the North and South Islands and that New Zealand was therefore two separate islands. Cook maintained good contacts with the locals and managed to trade with the Maoris.

English colony
From 1870 whalers from France and Great Britain reached New Zealand and a few years later the first Europeans settled on the island. The European activities had great influence on the Maori. In addition to commercial products, the Europeans also brought diseases and weapons to New Zealand. Conflicts regularly broke out between the Maoris and between the Maoris and Europeans. To end hostilities and prevent the establishment of a French colony on the South Island, some Maori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. It stipulated that New Zealand would become a British colony. The treaty offered the undersigned Maoris protection and a guarantee that they would keep their property. In return, the Maoris recognized the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.

In the following years there were disputes between the British and the Maoris, as the Waitangi Treaty was interpreted differently, the agreements were not adhered to everywhere and the English settlers claimed more and more land. The armed conflicts are also known as Maori wars. After the clashes, the number of Māori in 1891 was only 44,000, compared to 120,000 before 1820.

Even before the turn of the century, New Zealand set standards in dealing with the original population that seemed impossible for the rest of the world at that time. The country was able to administer itself relatively independently since 1852 due to the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 and from 1867 the male Māori also got the right to vote and seats in parliament. On September 8, 1893, the law granting British citizenship to women aged 21 and over the right to vote was passed. Maori women were included. During the Second World War, New Zealand soldiers fought the Germans and Japanese along with Australia in Europe, Africa and Asia.

After the Second World War, New Zealand gained independence from Westminster in 1947 through the acceptance of the Statute. The country became an autonomous part of the British Commonwealth. Agriculture flourished and New Zealand became the most prosperous country on earth for a number of years. The country changed its currency from the pound sterling to the New Zealand dollar in 1967 and developed into an industrialized country with a free market economy and a strong agricultural sector at the end of the twentieth century. In the 1970s and 1980s, New Zealand positioned itself strongly against nuclear weapons and nuclear power, which led to conflict with both France and the United States. A protest movement arose in New Zealand against the nuclear tests carried out by France in French Polynesia. In addition, protests took place in the country against American warships, which were powered by nuclear energy, and the Prime Minister banned these ships from docking in New Zealand ports.


New Zealand generally has a maritime climate with mild winters and relatively warm summers. This means that the average temperature is between 20 and 25 degrees in summer and between 10 and 15 degrees in winter. Most of the precipitation falls in the west of the country, where it can rain all year round. In contrast, there is less rainfall on the east side of New Zealand. The seasons in New Zealand are the exact opposite of the seasons in Northwestern Europe. Summer in New Zealand takes place from December to February, and winter from June to August. The weather in New Zealand can be very changeable and unpredictable. The temperatures can change significantly within a day.

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Population and culture

The majority of New Zealand's population (around 68 percent) are descended from European immigrants, including from Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Poland and Ireland. These New Zealanders of European descent are called Pākehā, the name the Maoris used for the settlers who came to New Zealand in the 18th century. The Maoris make up about 15 percent of the population. The remaining 17 percent of New Zealand's population is made up of Asians and people from the surrounding islands of Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia.

The most widespread religion in New Zealand is Protestant Christianity. The Anglican Church is the largest, followed by the Presbyterian and Catholic Churches. However, the number of Christians in New Zealand is declining. Compared to other countries, New Zealand has a large number of people who claim to be non-religious.

The culture of New Zealand is a combination of the culture of the European immigrants and the culture of the Maori. English is the most widely used language and English is also used in administration and legislation, but only Maori (Te Reo Maori) and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages ​​in New Zealand. The written version of the Maori was originally only used by older Maoris and in ceremonies. Nowadays, the language is given more attention. For example, it is taught in schools and a Maori television channel has been created to promote its use and prevent the language from becoming extinct.

The Maoris are known as an artistically gifted people with a strong connection to nature. The traditional dance of the Maori is the haka, a ceremony in which they invoke the gods. The dance is still practiced on various occasions such as weddings and funerals, but also at sporting events. In addition, the Maori are known for their wood and stone sculptures.


The New Zealand currency is the New Zealand dollar. A New Zealand dollar is currently worth around € 0.55. German, Austrian and Swiss bank cards with the Cirrus or Maestro logo are generally accepted in New Zealand. Euros can be exchanged at banks and exchange offices, but it is usually cheaper to use a bank card to withdraw money from an ATM. It is also possible to withdraw cash with a credit card, but there are often high fees for this. Nevertheless, it is advisable to take a credit card with you to be on the safe side, in case the bank card is not accepted. Please also note that many banks block the use of debit cards outside of Europe by default for security reasons. The possibility of using it outside of Europe can usually be regulated on the bank's website.

It is not customary to tip in New Zealand, not even in restaurants or bars. If the service is very good, a small tip of up to 10 percent is sometimes given.

Visa (NZeTA)

Since October 1, 2019, German, Austrian and Swiss travelers have to apply for an NZeTA (New Zealand electronic Travel Authority) before they leave for New Zealand. The NZeTA visa is valid for two years and can be used for multiple trips. Each individual visit to New Zealand can last up to 3 months.

Leisure and business travelers whose trip qualifies for use can easily apply for the NZeTA online and do not need to apply for a special visa. The NZeTA visa is applied for in a few minutes using the online form. You can pay the costs safely and easily with Sofortüberweisung, Giropay, eps transfer, credit card or PayPal. After the costs have been paid, you will usually receive the visa by email within 5 working days.

When applying for a New Zealand visa (NZeTA), a tourist tax, a kind of visitor's tax, must be paid in addition to the cost of the visa itself. This levy will International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) and is used to conserve and protect nature, improve infrastructure and expand the tourism industry in New Zealand. If a visa application is submitted to, the fee for the IVL is already included in the cost of the visa.
Apply for a New Zealand visa now

Safety and health

Security risk
New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world with a stable political system and few violent crimes. Terrorist attacks were carried out on two mosques in 2019, leaving numerous dead and injured. Since then, security has been tightened and the authorities have developed a system to indicate the level of terrorist threat. The security risks are currently comparable to those in Germany. The recommendation is to keep valuable documents in a safe place and not to leave valuables unattended.

The greatest dangers are in nature, because the weather in the country can change very quickly. When hiking, even on short hikes in the mountains and in remote areas, always take warm clothing, water, food and sunscreen with you. Cell phones have no reception in certain (remote) areas of New Zealand. New Zealand is also in an area prone to earthquakes and tropical storms or cyclones. In addition, there are active volcanoes in the country. The 2019 volcanic eruption on White Island killed 19 people. Keep an eye on the local media for the latest weather forecast.

No additional vaccinations or prophylactic medication are recommended for holidays or business trips to New Zealand.