Every country has a certain amount of natural beauty. New Zealand just happens to have loads of it.
Better still, it’s not just concentrated in a few remote corners. The great scenery of our wide open spaces surrounds and inspires us, even in our biggest cities.
Connected to the land
Land and place are central to our Māori people’s identity. That connectedness has rubbed off onto non-Māori New Zealanders (pakeha), reinforced by the pioneering heritage of their own forebears.
Understanding our relationship with land and sea explains a lot about Kiwis. For example, our passion for sport and outdoor activities. It’s because those activities get us close to things that nourish us spiritually.
New Zealanders share a strong sense of guardianship (kaitiaki-tanga) for our environment. For example, we maintain robust controls over land development, fishing, water quality and conservation. And we’ve dedicated over 30% of our land area to national parks and other protected areas.
There are extensive campaigns to rid our land of threats to native wildlife, and to support populations of endangered species such as our native birds, including the kiwi.
You’ll get an idea of how carefully we protect our environment from the strict biosecurity restrictions on what you can bring in to New Zealand when you land at the airport.
Tourists can only ever skim the surface of New Zealand’s spectacular scenery. Many New Zealanders who’ve lived their whole lives here haven’t seen or done it all either. And over 90% of migrants find our scenery exceeds or meets their expectations, according to a recent Immigration New Zealand survey.
So, what can you expect? Well, if you’ve seen The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, you’ll have an idea: soaring mountainscapes, mysterious lakes and rivers, dramatic volcanic plateau, vast open plains, braided rivers, thermal wonderlands, fiords, native forests, glaciers, miles of farmland and even more miles of glorious coastline with gorgeous sandy beaches…. all that sort of thing.
It’s not just the range of beautiful scenery there is to see – it’s all the different ways you can experience it: by car, on foot, by boat, on horseback, by helicopter, by rail, by rubber raft…
Low population density
Humans have a much smaller footprint on New Zealand than in many countries. So it’s easy to lose the crowds and have the wide open spaces to yourself.
Size-wise we’re slightly larger than the UK and slightly smaller than Japan. But we have a fraction of their populations, just 4.5m.
So, on average you’ll find just 16 people for every square kilometre in New Zealand. That compares to 253 in the UK and 337 in Japan.
While we get our share of wild weather, our climate lacks the extremes that make getting into nature hard.
We don’t have months of baking heat or intense snow: ours is a temperate climate which means relatively mild, wet winters and warm dry summers.
However, being a maritime country, the weather can change rapidly from day to day or even during the day. There are also wide variations: the far north can be positively subtropical, while the deep south can get icy winds. And it can be sunny and warm on the east coast, and cloudy and wet over the mountains on the west.
New Zealand has southern hemisphere seasons, with winter from June to August and Summer from December to February.