world map

New Zealand

The green end of the world

date of entry 04/07/2002
mileage 357,006

capital Wellington

area 269.652 km²

population 4.445.000

GDP 161,81 Bill. US-Dollar

official language Maori/English/New Zealand Sign Language

The Holtorfs spent almost six months touring New Zealand. To this day, Gunther has fond memories of the two green islands in the South Pacific with their extremely friendly inhabitants. The kiwis – as they call themselves – live in a breathtaking natural environment which contains nearly every type of climate zone, from bone-dry deserts to rainforests. It is a land that seems to be made for touring by car, even though the good roads here meant that Otto’s cross-country mobility was only rarely called upon.
  • Whales, dolphins, sea lions – New Zealand boasts an impressive amount of biodiversity on and just off its shores.
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  • At the end of the Earth: no country is further away from Germany than New Zealand. This signpost near East Cape is almost 20,000 kilometres from Frankfurt – but the Antarctic, on the other hand, is only about 3,000 km away.
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  • Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is located on a bay on North Island. From Mount Victoria, east of the city centre, there is a spectacular view of the yachts and cruise ships in the harbour.
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  • These trees have adapted their shape to the strong gusts that sweep over the country – and the city. This is why the capital bears the nickname, "Windy Wellington".
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  • The nature on South Island is considered even more wild and unspoilt than that of the north. The small resort of Queenstown, between the shores of Lake Wakatipu and the mountain range "The Remarkables", is particularly popular with outdoor junkies.
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  • Rafting tours run through the canyons around Queenstown. Fortunately, though, there is an old suspension bridge over the Kawarau River...
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  • ... which is even strong enough to carry a fully-laden globetrotter like Otto – although there had better not be anything coming the other way.
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  • However, Kawarau Bridge is known less as a transport route and more as the home of bungee-jumping. It is the place where, in 1988, the New Zealanders AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch established the world’s first jumping platform, from which it is still possible today to hurl yourself into the depths below.
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  • Bungee fever spread from New Zealand all over the world. Many more jumping platforms have now been added here, too – for example, there is one 400 metres above Queenstown, from which it is possible to jump off even at night in winter.
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  • The southwestern tip of South Island is indented by numerous fjords, gouged into the rock by gigantic glaciers. Perhaps the most beautiful is Milford Sound, with the 1,692-metre-high Mitre Peak towering above it.
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  • The New Zealanders owe their nickname, "Kiwis", to their flightless national bird. The kiwi fruit outwardly resembles the bird and is grown all over the country – for example, at this farm near Te Puke, where a monument has also been erected to the kiwi, which actually comes from China.
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  • The Australian and Pacific Plates push against each other near New Zealand. On South Island, their force created the peaks of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, and on North Island it created volcanoes, which are still active today.
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  • The Cadrona Bra Fence is one of the country’s strangest sights. The first four bras appeared on this roadside fence in Central Otago in 1999. The reason is unknown, but since then passing travellers have donated thousands more.
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  • At the southern end of Lake Wakapitu lies the small town of Kingston. It is known mainly for the train called the "Kingston Flyer", which connected the town with the coast from the 1890s.
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  • The historic train carried visitors to the nearby town of Lumsden until as recently as 2012. And from where was the best view of that old steam locomotive to be had? From Otto’s roof, of course.
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  • The "Flyer" was once the only passenger train on this line, which had been laid because of the gold rush. The gold rush gripped the area around Lake Wakapitu from the middle of the 19th century. Jahrhunderts das Gebiet um den Lake Wakapitu.
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  • However, the locomotive is not the only relic of bygone times. The TSS Earnslaw, which is more than a hundred years old, is still running boat tours on Lake Wakapitu. In the early 20th century, it provided a connection for the isolated villages on the shores of the lake. Jahrhunderts die isolierten Uferdörfer miteinander.
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  • The Cardrona Hotel opened its doors in 1863, during the gold rush. Today it is one of the oldest hotels in New Zealand still in operation.
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  • The Bath House stands in splendour on the shore of Lake Rotorua, the second-biggest inland lake in the country. Formerly a popular spa, it now houses the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, which also displays artefacts of the Maoris, New Zealand’s indigenous inhabitants.
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  • The land around Rotorua is an active thermal area. Visitors can come to within a few metres of many gushing geysers.
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  • Absolute majority: New Zealand is home to around 4.5 million people – and more than 30 million sheep. Captain Cook brought the first bleating specimen to the islands in 1773.
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  • For many years, sheep-farming was the most important agricultural sector in New Zealand. Now it is only second, after dairy-farming.
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  • New Zealand has a total of three indigenous species of penguin, all of which live on the coast of South Island and the smaller islands just off it.
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  • Australasian gannets also breed in New Zealand. In many colonies, more than 10,000 pairs live side by side.
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  • New Zealand is home to a wide variety of birdlife. Alongside gannets and kiwis, the kea – a parrot up to 50 centimetres high, which owes its name to its distinctive call – is one of the best known.
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  • Video: New Zealand – the safest land on Earth