New Zealand is a young, immigrant country, with a short but rich history.
Unitl 800 years ago there was nobody here - this was a land without people. The first settlers probably arrived from Polynesia between 1200 and 1300 AD by sailing canoe. These first people to arrive were ancestors of the Māori.
The first European to turn up was Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642. No more Europeans came for another 127 years until Captain James Cook, in 1769. European whalers and sealers then started visiting, followed by traders.
In the 1830s, the British were keen to beat out the French to gain New Zealand as a colony, and in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and 500 Māori chiefs. This is considered the founding document of New Zealand as a country and is the subject of disputes to this day.
Here is a brief rundown of the following 180 years up to today.
For the full rundown of NZ history, see:
Visitors will find museums and historic places throughout the country, both in big cities and small towns.