Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand

Published: 10 October 2007

New Zealand is a country of rare seismic beauty: glacial mountains, fast-flowing rivers, deep, clear lakes, hissing geysers and boiling mud.

There are also abundant native forests, long, deserted beaches and a variety of fauna, such as the kiwi, endemic to its shores.

Any number of vigorous outdoor activities - tramping (hiking), skiing, rafting and, of course, that perennial favourite, bungy jumping - await the adventurous. You can swim with dolphins, gambol with newborn lambs, whale-watch or fish for fattened trout in pristine streams and rivers.

When To Go:

The weather is never so miserable that there's no point in going to New Zealand: there are things to see and do all year round.

The warmer months (November to April) are busiest, especially during the school holidays from December 20 to the end of January. Ski resort towns are obviously busier during the winter months.

If you're travelling during peak periods (especially the Christmas season) it's best to book ahead, as much accommodation and transport fills up. It's probably more pleasant to visit either before or after this hectic period, when the weather is still warm and there aren't as many other travellers around.

New Zealand - Fast facts

Full Nam:e New Zealand
Capital City: Wellington
Area: 268,680 sq km / 103,737 sq miles
Population: 4,000,000
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +12 ()
Daylight Saving Start: first week of October
Daylight Saving End: end of March
Religion: Predominantly Christian (75%)
Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZ$)
Electricity: 230V 50HzHz
Electric Plug Details: Australian-style plug with two flat angled blades and one vertical grounding blade
Country Dialing Code: 64