It became truly independent on November 25th, 1947. The first country on Earth to give women the vote, in 1893. Home of the longest place name of any English speaking country, coming in at an astounding 85 letters long. The most common names are Jack and Sophie, for men and women respectively. Home of the world’s heaviest insect, the weta, weighing 16 drachms, the world’s steepest residential street, Baldwin Street, with a 38-degree gradient, and Ninety Mile Beach. 55 miles long. Birthplace of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the summit of Everest. And it’s the home of the world’s rarest sea lion, the unfortunately named Hooker’s Sea Lion. I love this country. Today, we’re visiting the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand.
New Zealand is a colourful, peaceful and unique country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, made up of two main islands and many smaller islands, its nearest neighbour being Australia. It is the 75th largest country on Earth at 104,428 square miles, with the 122nd largest population with just over four and a half million people. The flag of the country contains five stars representing the Southern Cross. The name ‘New Zealand’ originates from the name ‘Nova Zeelandia’, given to the island by Dutch cartographers in 1645, named after the Dutch province of Zeeland. It was British explorer James Cook who anglicised the name to ‘New Zealand’.
This is a sparkling land famed for its jagged mountains, plateaus, pristine lakes, roaring rivers, rolling pastures, scenic beaches, steep fjords and volcanic activity. A dynamic and hugely diverse landscape of extreme outstanding natural beauty. It’s dominated by its native Maori culture, playing an important role in everyday life, from government to corporate symbolism, a culture to be experienced, rich in art, literature, music and tradition. The industrious, intelligent and rugged New Zealanders live in a modern and prosperous nation, rural yet also cosmopolitan. A courteous, laid back and relaxed folk who enjoy many sports, including golf, netball, tennis and cricket. Yet the national religion remains rugby union, famous for the haka, a traditional Maori challenge performed before the game. The national symbol is the Kiwi, a flightless bird, but other symbols are important too, such as the silver fern leaf and the koru. This is a sparsely populated place, a melting pot of Polynesian, European and Asian cultures, occupied by a forgiving, sociable and very warm people.
There are sights to see such as Aoraki-Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, a gleaming white jewel lovingly resting on the edge of the calm waters beneath. This 12,000-foot tall masterpiece is a truly stunning slice of nature, amazing and breathtaking.
Then there’s Abel Tasman National Park, an amazing paradise nestled gently upon a shore of crystal clear blue waters. Mounds of soft green trees rise up sporadically from the water, ringed by the most angelic golden beaches, with hundreds of rocks sprinkled across this heavenly soufflé. A supernaculum place blessed with an undying grace.
But I think the best sight of New Zealand is Fiordland National Park, an isangelous glimpse of some unearthly realm, dripping in sumptuous majesty and unending gorgeousness. A vista from the dawn of time, an ageless and voiceful beauty, standing triumphant and proud. Something wonderful capable of ameliorating the harshest soul.
New Zealand. The country of warmth, beauty and a deceptively short beach.
Images (Click on Them to Enlarge)
1) The flag of New Zealand
2) Fiordland National Park
3) Fiordland National Park
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