New Zealand is situated as far away from Europe as it is possible to get. It really makes no difference whether one travels via Bangkok or Singapore, or the other route via Los Angeles and the Pacific – the journey takes about 24 hours either way.
Over 3.5 million tourists visit New Zealand each year, and the number is on the rise. New Zealand consists of two major islands, North and South Island, and they are very different. Most of the Maoris live on North Island and here tourists can participate in Maori shows, which demonstrate the Maori culture – music, traditions and food. In the Maori capital of Rotorua you can find active volcanoes, hot springs, mud pools and geysers.
Watch Your Step
There is something happening everywhere beneath the ground – it bubbles, burns, evaporates and moves under your feet! If you stay in New Zealand long enough, you might experience an earth tremor or even a major earthquake! Part of the landscape is so strange that you feel as though you have landed on a different planet. Along the coast there are sandy beaches, cosy villages and fruit farms. To the north-east is Auckland, a bustling city built on 60 volcanoes, and with access to two oceans – the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Auckland is an international city, with water sports, such as sailing, surfing and swimming. South Island is completely different and is famous for its nature, which ranges from fjords and high mountains to forests and rugged coasts. Mountain ranges and glaciers make the picture almost complete. Last but not least, are the rivers and ancient forests that decorate the landscape. For many fly-fishers, this area is their personal paradise, and some Norwegians have actually moved here for good, just to try their luck at catching trout!
The Love of Extreme Sports
New Zealand is also the home of extreme sports. The national sport of New Zealand is rugby and although it is seldom considered an “extreme” sport, wait a moment! Have you ever considered the percentage of players injured during a rugby match? Roughly 100 %…! The national team is called All Blacks and they are famous for performing Maori hakas to intimidate their opponents.
Extreme sports are, however, usually a lot more hazardous than rugby. The Kiwis love them, and in the course of one day it is possible to go rafting, mountain-climbing, rolling down hills in a container, paragliding and last but not least – bungee-jumping.
Bungee-jumping was actually invented by a Kiwi. Alan John Hackett became inspired when he saw all the students who dived from the Golden Gate Bridge in California. He contacted the University of Auckland to find the right material for a flexible string that could turn humans into yo-yos. They succeeded in finding the right material and Hackett travelled to Europe to try it out. He even jumped from the Eiffel Tower. When he returned home to Queenstown he set up a bungee-jump from the Kawarau suspension bridge, 43 metres above the Kawarau River, surrounded by beautiful New Zealand nature. It is now a major tourist attraction, with spectator platforms and souvenir shops. They have even improved the bridge so that two bungee-jumpers can jump simultaneously!
Almost all “backpackers” in New Zealand greet each other with the expression ”Have you done it yet”? Meaning, of course, have you jumped? However, if bungee-jumping makes you yawn, a new form of extreme sport in New Zealand is scaling the wall of one of Auckland’s skyscrapers!
- Where in New Zealand would you travel to experience Maori culture?
- List some activities tourists may enjoy in Auckland?
- Who "invented" bungee jumping?
Write an email to your parents from New Zealand. Describe the places you have visited, what you have seen and what activities you have experienced. Give the email a personal tone by explaining the feelings you have experienced along your journey.