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New Zealand, (or Aotearoa, "land of the long white cloud") is found in the Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia.
Made of up two large islands and numerous smaller surrounding islands, New Zealand has about the same land area as the British Isles, Japan, or Colorado.
Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand, and Auckland is the largest.
New Zealand's people are mainly of European descent, but there are large numbers of native Maori, other Polynesians, many East Asians and other peoples. Most people live in urban areas, but there are still more sheep than people in New Zealand!
New Zealand culture is a fascinating blend of European, Pacific and other traditions. The country is renowned for its inventive thinking and friendly relaxed way of life. Sports and outdoor activities are important to many New Zealanders.
New Zealand's national bird is the kiwi, which is small, brown and flightless. The people are nicknamed "kiwis" and an important export is the furry brown kiwifruit.
Events: There are hundreds of events around New Zealand: spring and summer are particularly full of outdoor sports events and local festivals with art, crafts, music, food, wine, produce, agriculture and entertainment galore, but there is plenty happening any time of year, with options ranging from relaxed and rural to urban and sophisticated. Everyone will find something to their liking. Here are just a few ideas:
The Louis Vuitton Yacht Racing in Auckland; The Coronet Peak Mountain Mardi Gras; The Hawkes Bay Festival; The Northland Kauri Festival; Wanakafest; The Air New Zealand Fashion Week; Akaroa's French Fest; The Hokianga Country Music Festival; The Christchurch Antarctica Festival; The Kaikoura Seafood Festival; The Hamilton to Auckland 100k bike race and the bike race around Lake Taupo; The Queenstown Jazz festival; The Tauranga Arts Festival; The Stroke and Stride swim/run events; The Mount Maunganui Blues, Brews and Barbeques Festival; The Malborough Wine Festival; The Auckland Music In Parks series; The Whangamata Beach Hop celebration of the 50's and 60's; The Dunedin Fringe Festival: experimental and innovative arts; The Auckland International Film Festival; The Christchurch International Jazz Festival; The Whitianga (Coromandel) Scallop Festival.
How to get there: Air New Zealand has regular flights there from the U.S. and Europe. Many other airlines fly to New Zealand including Air Pacific, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qantas, United Airlines, British Airways, Japan, Korean and Singapore Airlines.
New Zealand has a climate that ranges from subtropical in the upper north, down to temperate further south.
In summer (Dec-Feb), the maximum temperature is about 20-30ºC/ 68-86ºF and in winter (June-Aug) 10-15ºC/ 50-59º F.
The warmest, finest weather is between October and April, and this is a popular time for boating holidays.
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