New Zealand

New Zealand consists mainly of two large islands, North Island and South Island, plus several smaller ones, including Stewart Island. North Island is volcanically active with a central plateau. South Island has the snow-covered mountain peaks of the Southern Alps and glaciers. To the north, south and east lies the South Pacific Ocean, to the west the Tasman Sea.

Rich marine life is found off of New Zealand’s extensive coastline, including many species of whales, seals and dolphins. The Maui’s dolphin, found off the west coast of North Island, is the rarest marine dolphin in the world, with an estimated 110 left in the wild. On land, one finds unique flightless birds, including the country’s iconic kiwi as well as critically endangered kapakos and takahes. The giant moa bird became extinct about 500 years ago.

New Zealand’s wildlife is threatened by habitat loss, pollution and introduced species such as rats, possums and stoats. Other environmental problems facing New Zealand include deforestation, air pollution from cars and soil erosion.
 / ©: WWF-New Zealand
Hector's dolphin, South Island, New Zealand
© WWF-New Zealand

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • Most parts of New Zealand have enough sunlight to make solar water heating worthwhile.
  • New Zealand tap water is generally very good. To find out how good tap water is anywhere in New Zealand, visit the Drinking for New Zealand website at: http://www.drinkingwater.co.nz/default.asp
  • To help New Zealanders save water, a Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) will be implemented in early 2009. The scheme involves attaching a label, which indicates both water efficiency and consumption, on to common water-consuming products.
  • Hydropower, mostly on the South Island, provides approximately 60% of New Zealand’s energy needs.
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Recycling
  • In many parts of New Zealand, people are using local recycling centres or a curbside service to recycle increasing volumes of paper, plastics, glass and metals.
  • Public recycling bins in Wellington are available throughout the city centre. The distinctive green LOVE NZ bins are for paper, aluminium and steel cans, glass bottles and 1 and 2 grade plastic bottles.
  • Several local authorities provide a battery collection service.
  • Most petrol stations and garages accept old car batteries and council waste facilities have collection points for lead-acid batteries.
  • From toner cartridges to detergents, products with the Environmental Choice label let consumers identify a product as less harmful to the environment than another similar product. Look for the Environment Choice label in stories and supermarkets throughout the country.
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Transport
  • One of the most cost effective ways of travelling around New Zealand is by bus. Intercity Coachlines is the main operator across the country.
  • The New Zealand train system, run by Tranzrail covers just a few routes: The Northerner from Auckland to Wellington, the Southerner from Picton to Invercargill, and the scenic Transalpine that goes from Christchurch to Greymouth.
  • Ferry services across the Cook Strait from Wellington in the North Island to Picton in the South Island are frequent as well as across the Foveaux Strait from Bluff on the South Island to Stewart Island.
  • Water taxis are a handy service for getting to the start of a hiking track or reaching a destination that isn’t accessible by ferry.
  • There are designated bike lanes in and around Wellington that are marked with a continuous white line and a white bike image on the pavement.
  • If you need a taxi, consider Green Cabs, which only uses a fleet of hybrid Toyota Prius cars.
  • To protect New Zealand’s unique island environment, local authorities screen incoming travellers, especially at airports, to make sure they don’t accidentally transport exotic pests, organisms and diseases. To learn more about New Zealand’s entering procedures, visit: http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/.
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Food
  • Farmer markets take place throughout New Zealand on a regular basis. For venues, dates, times and contact details, visit the NZ Farmers Market Association website: www.farmersmarkets.org.nz.
  • There are four certifying bodies for organic products in New Zealand: Organic Farm New Zealand, BioGro, Demeter and AsureQuality Organic Standard. Look for their logos in local stores and supermarkets..
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Souvenirs
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Green Spots
  • Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park: Located in the central part of the South Island, deep in the heart of the Southern Alps, this park is home to the country’s largest glaciers and highest mountains, including Mt Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754m.
  • Tongariro National Park: Located in the central North Island, this UNESCO World Heritage site is New Zealand’s oldest national park and home to three active volcanoes: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. Mt Tongariro was one of several locations used for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
  • Fiordland National Park: The largest of New Zealand’s national parks, Fiordland is a vast, remote wilderness of glaciers and deep fjords in the southwest corner of the South Island. The park is a popular destination for hikers and alpine climbers. Wildlife in this area includes dolphins, seals and the kakapo, the only flightless parrot in the world.
  • Auckland Domain: This city park, the oldest and one of the largest in Auckland, is built around the cone of an extinct volcano. The level floor of the crater is covered with sports fields. The rim of the crater offers panoramic views and is a great place to fly a kite.
  • Queen Elizabeth Regional Park: Less than an hour from downtown Wellington, this is the last area of natural dunes on the Kapiti coastline. It has plenty of space to enjoy swimming, fishing, walking, cycling, horse riding and picnics.
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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