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Geography and Culture
With the Pacific Ocean to the east, and the Tasman Sea to the west, New Zealand is an island nation with a population of only 3.7 million.

New Zealand was probably first settled by the Maori - Polynesians who arrived from the Hawaiian islands over 1000 years ago. European settlement didn’t begin until the 17th Century, with the British colonising the islands and exploiting its vast natural resources, timber, whales and seals, and also fighting many wars with the Maori tribes over the land. Eventually the British and Maori chiefs signed a peace treaty and relations between European and Maori have improved greatly since.

Today, the people of New Zealand come together in a wonderful mixture of races, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds; British, European, Asian and Maori, all sharing a common language, English. Agriculture, dairy products, timber, and tourism are the primary industries. The country is modern. The Standard of living is high. The Lifestyle is casual and relaxed. New Zealanders, or "Kiwis", are known for their friendliness, tolerance and modesty.

As New Zealand is located in the Southern Hemisphere, June - August are winter months, while December - February are summer. The climate in Auckland is temperate, with temperatures never dropping below 0 degrees Celsius. In winter, the weather is quite changeable with four seasons in one day. Winter can also be quite wet. Summer is beautiful with long warm days, with daylight lasting until 9:00 pm.

Daylight Saving operates from the first weekend of October (clocks forward one hour) until the third weekend of March (clocks back one hour).

For more weather information click here

New Zealand, whilst being a relatively new country and not having a long history of cuisine, still offers a wide selection of food; Being an agricultural country, the meat, fish, fruit and vegetables are market fresh. New Zealand lamb, beef and venison are world famous. There is also an excellent variety of fresh seafood, such as Snapper, Hapuka and Salmon, plentiful shellfish including Mussels, Oysters, Abalone, and Scallops, and of course the famous Crayfish (Lobster). Furthermore because the people of New Zealand are from such diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds - European, Asian and Polynesian - New Zealand cooking is a rich mix of tastes, colours and traditions.

For those who enjoy a glass of wine with their meal, New Zealand produces some of the best white wines in the world. The chardonnays and sauvignon blanc, in particular, are excellent. Wineries and vineyards are found on both North and South Islands, with some very famous ones only 20 minutes from Auckland. They all welcome visitors.

Cost of Living
In general, because the New Zealand dollar is relatively weak against the major world currencies, New Zealand is a relatively inexpensive destination. New Zealand’s economy is based on agriculture and service industries, which means that manufactured goods, most of which must be imported, tend to be more costly.
Some price (indications only) of some common items.

  Item Price NZ$
Milk - 2 litres 3.50
Bread 750g 2.00
12 eggs 3.50
1 kg potatoes 1.00
1 kg sirloin steak 10.00
whole chicken 10.00
BigMac meal 5.50
Washing powder 1kg 5.00
can of Coke (325 ml) 1.20
Cappuccino (cafe price) 3.00
CD - new release 32.00
Movie ticket (student price) 7.50
Paperback novel 5 - 10.00
Box of tissues 2.50







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