New Zealand Overview
|Form of government
||New Zealand dollar
||NZST ** = UTC + 12 (April ¨C September)NZDT
** = UTC + 13 (October ¨C March)
|Telephone area code
Parliamentary monarchy in the British Commonwealth on
the twin island of the same name in the Southwest
Pacific (Oceania), 270 686 km², 4 million residents,
capital Wellington, official languages English, Maori.
New Zealand (in the Maori language Aotearoa,
officially English: New Zealand) is located 1,600 km
southeast of Australia in the South Pacific. The state
consists of a north and a south island as well as a
number of smaller islands. In addition, the Tokelau
Islands and the Antarctic Ross Dependency as overseas
territories, Niue and the Cook Islands as associated
areas with self-government belong to New Zealand. The
state territory covers a total area of 270 686 km² and
is therefore somewhat smaller than Italy. North Island
(114 453 km²) and South Island (150 461 km²) are
separated by the 35 km wide Cookstrasse.
Both islands are largely occupied by mountain and
mountain regions. The core of the northern peninsula is
a volcanic highland, which has active volcanoes, geysers
and thermal springs. The highest volcano is the Ruapehu
with 2 797 m height. In the west and south of the
highlands, mountainous areas border with numerous river
valleys. The southern peninsula is characterized by the
New Zealand Alps, which form the highest elevation in
New Zealand at 3 764 m. To the east the Alps descend to
the Canterbury Plains and form a large plain, to the
south the mountains change into a fjordland.
Among the numerous rivers, the Waikato is the longest
on the North Island with 425 km, on the South Peninsula
it is the Clutha with 340 km. There are numerous lakes
in the mountains, some of which are used to operate
hydroelectric power plants, including New Zealand's
largest inland water, Lake Benmore. The largest natural
inland lake in New Zealand is Lake Taupo (in Maori
Taupomoana), which is 606 km² in size and lies on the
volcanic plateau of the North Island.
The climate in New Zealand is temperate. Due to its
isolation and the large masses of water that surround
the country, other regions of the country have little
influence on the weather. The west wind belt of the
temperate latitudes means that the rainfall is
distributed all year round; they average 1,240 mm
annually in Auckland, 935 mm in Wellington and 640 mm in
Dunedin in the south of the South Island. The high
mountain ranges cause greater climatic differences
between the east and west sides of the mountains than
between the north and south islands. For example, there
is more rainfall on the west side of the islands than on
the east side. On the rainy side of the New Zealand Alps
in particular, the precipitation values can increase
up to 7,000 mm per year.
Average temperatures in January are 19 ¡ãC in
Auckland, 16 ¡ãC in Wellington and 14.5 ¡ãC in Dunedin. In
July it is 10.5 ¡ãC in Auckland, 6 ¡ãC in Wellington and
Dunedin. A specialty is the hair dryer, which appears as
a warm dry wind in the lee of the southern Alps and
makes the air humidity very low.
Flora and fauna
The flora of New Zealand is dominated by grass
fields. The original vegetation of evergreen mixed
forests, which once made up two thirds of the island,
still occupies about 20% of the natural areas. Such
forests are found particularly on the west coast of the
South Island; Evergreen laurel-coniferous forests are
located in the northern part of the north island and the
warm, humid lowland areas, the southern northern part is
covered with mock beech forests. During European
settlement, pine trees were imported from California to
counter increasing erosion. These were planted on the
volcanic plateau and now represent extensive
agricultural forests in this region. A specialty of New
Zealand's flora is the cowrie spruce (also: copal
spruce), which can grow up to 40 m high and live up to
2,000 years. Other indigenous trees include Rimu, Matai,
Tawa and Pohutukawa (Christmas tree). Around 20% of all
plant species in New Zealand are endemic and occur
Before the settlers arrived, there were no large
mammals in New Zealand due to its isolated location.
Mainly reptile species lived on the forested islands.
These are now only to be found in remote parts of the
island or on uninhabited islands: skinke (smooth
lizards), geckos (sticky-head) and Tuataras. Tuataras
(in the Maori language "spiked bearers") are bridge
lizards, which belong to the strictly protected animal
species and have already become extinct in other
countries. There are also frogs and two bat species.
With the arrival of European settlers, the animal
world also changed. Both domestic animals and red deer
were imported from Europe. However, the Australian
opossum (bag rat) has multiplied after its release due
to a lack of natural enemies. The same applies to goats,
deer and rabbits, which pose a major problem for the
natural balance of native flora and fauna. The variety
of bird species living on the island is remarkable: in
addition to the kiwi, the country's heraldic animal,
there are around 250 species on the islands, including
several species of parrots and owls. The extremely rare
kakapo (owl parrot) is unable to fly.
New Zealand has around 4.05 million residents and
thus a very low population density of 15 residents per
square kilometer. The country's largest city is Auckland
| Auckland (1.29 million metropolitan area). Also on the
North Island is the country's capital, named after the
Duke of Wellington, Wellington, which has 452,000
residents (metropolitan area).
According to COUNTRYAAH, 80% of New Zealand's residents are Europeans, mostly
of British origin, and just under 14% are Maori.
Polynesians make up a minority of around 5%. Whites and
Maori are treated equally, but the aborigines of the
country belong to economic and social problem groups
more often than average.
The majority of the population are members of various
Christian churches; the most important are the Anglican
(15%), the Presbyterian (11%), the Roman Catholic
(12.5%) and the Methodist Church. About 32% are
non-denominational, and there is a larger minority of
Hindus and Buddhists. The official languages are
English and Maori.
The population growth of the islands is approximately
one percent. The health system complies with western
standards, which is why the average life expectancy is
79 years. The literacy of the population is almost
The New Zealand parliamentary monarchy, like Great
Britain, has no written constitution; the Basic Law is
formed by various legislative texts, including British
ones, and the Constitution Act of 1986. There are
special state laws and courts for Maori.
The head of state is the British monarch (Elizabeth
II since 1952), who is represented by a governor general
(Jerry Mateparae since August 2011). In political
reality, however, the executive is exercised by the
elected government, chaired by the Prime Minister (John
Key since November 2008).
The Prime Minister is responsible for a parliament
(House of Representatives) consisting of at least 120
deputies elected by the people for three years. Seven
mandates are reserved for Maori.
The main parties are the National Party (NP), the
Labor Party (LP), the Green Party of Aotearoa (GPA) and
the New Zealand First Party (NZFP). New Zealand has 48
individual unions, the majority of which are united in
an umbrella organization called the "Council of Trade
The country is divided into 16 regions.
The country has been transformed from an agricultural
state to a western-oriented, liberal and export-oriented
industrial state since the 1980s. The unemployment rate
is low at 6.1% (2014).
Agriculture only contributes 6% to gross domestic
product (GDP). However, the export sector is still
heavily agricultural (meat, dairy products, fruit -
especially kiwi fruit). Barley and wheat, potatoes,
vegetables and fruit are grown for own use.
The service sector (69% of GDP) is very developed;
likewise the manufacturing industry (25% of GDP), with a
focus on the food industry. The country is rich in
mineral resources such as iron ore, gold and natural
About two thirds of the energy required is generated
by hydropower plants. A direct electricity connection
between the two islands also allows electricity to be
exported from the southern part of the state to the more
industrialized and densely populated northern part. 6%
of the energy comes from geothermal sources.
Tourism is the second most important export branch.
Around two and a half million tourists visit New Zealand
every year. The film industry is also an important
industry in this context. For example, filming "The
Hobbit" has led to a noticeable increase in the number
The most important export goods are food, raw
materials, chemical products, petroleum and machinery,
the most important import goods are petroleum, chemical
products, vehicles, machinery and food. The most
important foreign trade partners are the PRC, Australia,
the USA and Japan.
The country's main overseas ports are on the north
island of Auckland and Wellington, on the east coast of
the south island of Lyttelton. International airports
are located in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
The currency is the New Zealand dollar.