It's my country and I'm proud of it

New Zealand. Aotearoa. The Land of the Long White Cloud. My country.

New Zealand is a stunningly beautiful country in the South Pacific, approximately 2,200kms south-east of the east coast of Australia. Our population is not large - approximately 4 million. There are three islands - the North Island, the South Island (very unoriginal!), and Stewart Island. The climate is moderate.

New Zealand is the home of:
• the All Blacks – national rugby team
• the Kiwi bird
• Sir Edmund Hillary
• L&P
• The Tui girls
• The Buzzy Bee
• Footrot Flats
• Jandals
• Pavlova
• Tip Top ice cream
• Fish & Chips
• Swandris
• Paua Shell jewellery
• the Haka
• The Silver Fern
• Tim and Neil Finn
• A J Hackett
• Michael Seresin
• Kiri Te Kanawa
• Ernest Rutherford (split the atom). Ironically, we are a nuclear free zone!
• Peter Jackson (LOTR)

to name but a few. Oh, and trillions of sheep (around 10 times the human population).

We pioneered many social and political innovations, including universal suffrage, state pensions and social welfare.

We have rolling green hills, hot springs, beautiful beaches, volcanoes, glaciers, mountains, rainforests, and fiords.

The people are reputedly amongst the friendliest in the world and the lifestyle is relaxed. As a nation we are committed, hard working, open-minded and optimistic. We are a country full of quiet folks who keep their noses out of everyone else's business most of the time. Because we are so small, wherever you live, you are never more than a short drive away from the ocean.

Our capital city is Wellington, which has one of the largest number of restaurants per head in the world! If you are coming to visit, make sure you come in the summer (unless you are into skiing, in which case we have awesome ski fields!), as it can get quite wet and rainy in the winter (and incredibly windy if you go to Wellington). For all you people in the USA, your winter = our summer.

The main cities are:
Auckland (if you want to be submerged in traffic and things to do).
Wellington (the capital) - visit the National Museum and enjoy the night life, cafe's, film festivals, etc.
Christchurch & Dunedin: A must see for people from the UK. Lots of historical buildings. Has a friendly European feel to it.
Queenstown: The overpriced, adventure capital of the world; a must go if you can afford it.

All in all, a pretty cool country. You can't go to heaven until you've checked out New Zealand first!