This is New Zealand (Aotearoa), a South Pacific paradise that, much to the chagrin of Kiwis, sometimes finds itself left off world maps.
It’s hard to see why – it may be remote, but it’s bigger than the UK – though with only 5 million people, its population is only about one-fourteenth that of the UK.
If all you know about NZ is that Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit were filmed there, that bungy-jumping was ‘invented’ there and that there are a lot of sheep, read on.
NZ is the land of mountains, lakes, fiords and beaches – a gorgeous natural environment with an amazingly short human history. No humans or animals were here until about 800 years ago when Polynesians arrived by canoe from the mid-Pacific.
Dutchman Abel Tasman showed up in 1642, but no more Europeans showed their faces until Captain Cook in 1769. NZ only officially became a country in 1840 with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between Maori and the British Crown.
Rather unromantically named, the two main islands are the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and South Island (Te Waipounamu).
There are a lot more islands though – Stewart Island (Rakiura) sits to the south of the South Island; while Kiwi jokesters may refer to the backward West Island (ie Australia!).