Situated just over 4,000km from Australia, New Zealand’s geographical isolation has given this island nation a completely unique character. Stunning fjords, lush rainforests and deserted beaches are matched by some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Culture and tourism
New Zealand’s unique geography sees the country split between North Island and South Island (with around 600 smaller islands). The largest city, Auckland, is on North Island and is incredibly diverse, hosting world-class cultural institutions and surrounded by wonderful nature reserves. The Goat Island Marine Reserve, for example, offers stunning snorkelling opportunities.
Wellington is New Zealand’s compact capital, situated on the southern end of North Island. It’s known as a global leader in special effects for film (Peter Jackson’s legendary Weta Workshop is based there). Zealandia is a pioneering ecosanctuary on the city’s outskirts, giving visitors the chance to witness some of New Zealand’s truly unique bird species (including the kiwi, of course!). If your PhD is in Conservation or Ecology, you’ve definitely come to the right place – New Zealand is a world leader in these areas.
Indigenous Maori culture plays an important role in New Zealand, forming a significant component of the national identity. Located in Wellington, Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum, featuring an excellent collection of Maori artefacts as well as a morae (Maori meeting place).
Sport and leisure
New Zealand is home to the world-famous All Blacks, who have won the Rugby World Cup on several occasions. Their pre-match haka is an intimidating tribute to the Maori war dance. Football and cricket are also popular sporting activities.
Tramping (hiking) is a national past-time, with many excellent and well-maintained walking routes through the stunning New Zealand countryside.
Food and drink
New Zealand cuisine often features fresh, local ingredients, taking advantage of the country’s access to seafood as well as its sizeable sheep population. Wine production is big in New Zealand, which is famed for sauvignon blanc and pinot noir.