New Zealand

New Zealand • Aotearoa
Capital city Wellington
Surface 268,021 km²
Population 4,820,000
Road network length 93,000 km
Length of highway network 414 km
First highway 1950
Motorway name Motorway
Traffic drives Left
License plate code NZ

New Zealand (English: New Zealand, Māori: Aotearoa) is a country in the continent of Oceania. The country has 4.8 million inhabitants and is approximately 6 times the size of the Netherlands. The capital is Wellington, the largest city is Auckland.


According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, New Zealand is an island nation, located between the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific. The country consists of two large islands, called the North and South Island. The country is the most isolated larger country in the world. Australia is the nearest larger landmass, approximately 1,700 kilometers to the west. Antarctica is approximately 2,500 kilometers south of New Zealand. Fiji is approximately 1,900 kilometers to the north and Chile is 8,800 kilometers to the east. In between are numerous small islands, which administratively partly fall under New Zealand. The capital is Wellington, located on the southern tip of the North Island. The largest and most famous city is Auckland, which is further north on the North Island. Larger cities in the South Island include Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

The South Island is the most mountainous, with the Southern Alps. Mount Cook is the highest point at 3,754 meters. The mountain tops here are covered with snow. The mountains are mainly on the west side of the island, with impressive fjords. The east side is flatter, and this is also where the larger cities are located. Really large rivers do not flow through the limited distances. There are also numerous large lakes in the Alps. South of the South Island is Stewart Island, a somewhat larger island off the coast.

The North Island is generally flatter, but is also volcanic, so there are a number of high peaks. Mount Ruahephu is the highest point at 2,797 meters. The higher peaks are mainly in the middle of the island. The North Island has a different geographic shape than the South Island, with a long peninsula to the north and several bays and coves. The North Island is at its shortest 20 kilometers from the South Island.


New Zealand is a highly developed country with an income comparable to most southern European countries. Income is approximately $31,000 per resident. It is therefore less wealthy compared to most western countries. The country has few raw materials, but is rich in agricultural products. The country is highly dependent on trade and exports, which makes the country sensitive to the vagaries of the global economy. In New Zealand, payment is made with the New Zealand Dollar (NZD or NZ$).

One of the biggest challenges in New Zealand is housing affordability. Despite the fact that the country has a lot of sparsely populated countryside, house prices in the cities are among the highest in the world. House prices have risen much faster than incomes since the 1990s, since the mid-2000s there has been talk of a housing crisis. In 2017, the median house price was 10 times the median income. Although Auckland is one of the most liveable cities in the world, it is also one of the most expensive cities to live in. Between 1986 and 2013, home ownership decreased from 74 to 65%.


City Population (2018)
Auckland 1,570,000
Wellington 419,000
Christchurch 405,000
Hamilton 241,000
Tauranga 142,000
Napier Hastings 135,000
Dunedin 122,000

In the census of 2013, 4.2 million inhabitants were counted, in 2020 this was around 5 million. About three quarters of the population lives in one of the cities, New Zealand has 7 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. See New Zealand population density. Auckland is by far the largest city, followed by the capital Wellington and then Christchurch.

About 74% of the population is of European descent, 15% Māori, 12% Asian and 7% from one of the Pacific Islands. In particular, the share of Asians is growing rapidly. English is the primary language of New Zealand and is spoken by almost the entire population. Māori is promoted, although it is estimated that only 50,000 inhabitants (1%) speak it fluently. Most institutions and government agencies have both English and Māori names.


New Zealand was originally unpopulated, being one of the last major landmasses in the world to be populated. In the period 1250-1300 Polynesians came to New Zealand from the South Pacific. This developed over the centuries as the Māori culture. The first Europeans to reach New Zealand were the Dutch led by Abel Tasman in 1642. Europeans left New Zealand for what it is for a long time, only in 1769 the English explorer James Cook mapped the coast of New Zealand.

It was not until the early 19th century that Europeans began to establish settlements on a larger scale. Administratively, it was originally part of New South Wales. New Zealand became a separate colony in 1841. The capital was originally Auckland, but fearing separation from the South Island, the capital was moved to Wellington in 1865. In 1907 New Zealand was granted self-government within the British Empire, with the same status as Australia and Canada. At that time, there were approximately 1 million inhabitants in New Zealand.

New Zealand fought during the First World War, especially the Battle of Gallipoli by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) sparked a national consciousness in both countries. After World War I, New Zealand was largely autonomous from the United Kingdom, except in the field of defence. New Zealand again fought in World War II. After the war, New Zealand turned more to the United States for defense, leading to the 1951 ANZUS Treaty.

Under the Statute of Westminster in 1931, New Zealand gained full self-government, although it was not actually adopted until 1947. In the 1950s, New Zealand culture was still strongly British, but this gradually diminished, partly due to the immigration of Europeans and later Asians.

New Zealand Location Map