N is for New Zealand

A Pacific country of two major islands (the North and the South) along with Stewart Island in the far south and some smaller islands, New Zealand is a country of great beauty, with many fascinating things to see and do. 

Cape_Kidnappers_07

New Zealand's indigenous people, the Maori, are deeply religious and closely bound by their legends and beliefs to the land they inhabit. The powhiri or maori welcome service holds rich significance and is sealed at the end by the hongi, a touching of noses with the Maori elder or host.

Cape_Kidnappers_03In a country where sheep outnumber humans 8:1, it goes without saying that the wool and lamb industry is very important. New Zealand's rich pastures are ideal for raising sheep which have been bred here since their introduction by the early white settlers. 

In some garments, wool is sometimes mixed with downy-soft possum fur. Unfortunately the brushtail possum, introduced from Australia years ago is a pest of major proportions and is responsible for the degradation of forests in this country.

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One of the major drawcards in recent years is New Zealand's fine wine industry in both the north and south islands. As always happens, good wine demands the appropriate food. 

Hawkes_Bay_08Now there are cheese-makers, trendy cafes, bakers, olive growers and some of the finest fresh fruit and vegetables you'll find anywhere. The best way to see all these of course is to pick up a map and self-drive. In country areas plan a day of wine tasting; in cities and larger towns restaurant-crawl, dropping in to several places for just a taste of their offerings. There's so much to see, it's best to plan a longer time than you at first think you'll need.

queenstown

Add in to the mix some of the world's most stunning scenery and birds that exist only here: kiwis (of course!) and parrots, and  others like this gannet (below) sometimes called a booby.

Cape_Kidnappers_06The young birds launch off from their cliffside nests on the South Island and, unsure of how to land, just keep flying until they arrive in the southern states of Australia. Here they spend a bird's version of a 'gap year' and finally fly home at last, pregnant. Well, ready to lay eggs anyway, in the same nests they left many months before. True story! Read more interesting facts about New Zealand.....

 
 

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