Glaciers in New Zealand
Maori children
Northland, New Zealand
Queen Charlotte Sound
Routeburn Track
Boating in Taupo
Tongariro, New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand

A Snapshot of New Zealand

New Zealand is comparable in size to the United Kingdom or the Philippines. Nowhere is more than 130km from the ocean.

Source: Statistics New Zealand. New Zealand population by ethnic group

The climate of New Zealand is generally temperate, although weather in the far north is often subtropical during the warmer months (December to March) and there can be severe frosts in the inland areas of the South Island in winter (June to August).

Maori name – Aotearoa

Capital – Wellington

Largest city – Auckland

Official languages – English, Maori, NZ Sign Language

Population – 4,566,035 (est May 2015)

Area – 269,652 sq km

Currency – New Zealand dollar

Government – Parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy

History

Ancestors of Maori arrived on canoes from the Pacific about 1300AD. They called the country Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud). They lived in tribal groups, had a rich culture of stories about the land, and strong traditions of warfare.

In 1840, 500 chiefs and representatives of Queen Victoria signed the Treaty of Waitangi to protect Maori lands and rights. Promises were not always upheld and in recent years the government has reached settlements with many tribes. Today there are over half a million Maori, mostly in cities. Recently there has been a major revival of the Maori language, art, and culture.

The first European to discover New Zealand was Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, in 1642. The English navigator James Cook mapped the coasts of the country from 1769. When New Zealand became a British colony in 1840, large-scale settlement began, mainly from the United Kingdom. In the 1890s, New Zealand became the first country to give women the vote, among other liberal reforms. The country lost many men in two world wars. Today New Zealand has moved from being a British colony to an independent multicultural nation of the Pacific.

100% Pure New Zealand: Every day a different journey

Economy

New Zealand has a market economy. For many years earnings were mainly from farm products, such as wool and dairy goods. Today these are combined with new developments such as tourism, film production, and winemaking. New Zealand depends heavily on international trade, especially with Australia, China, the United States, and Japan. Economic free-market reforms from the 1980s have removed many barriers to foreign investment.

Gross domestic product in current prices  2014 NZ$(million) 
240,000 

 

Gross domestic product by industry (in 1995/96 prices)  Growth rate 2007-12 (%) 
Mining  20.8 
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing  17.6 
Financial and insurance services  13.4 
Health care and social assistance  11.5 
Public administration and safety  11.3 
Transport, postal, and warehousing  7.4 
Education and training  6.9 
Professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services  6.8 
Electricity, gas, water, and waste services  6.1 
Information media and telecommunications  5.5 
Arts, recreation, and other services  4.2 
Retail trade and accommodation  3.3 
Wholesale trade  1.4 
Rental, hiring, and real estate services  -0.1 
Manufacturing  -8.0 
Construction  -13.5 
Gross domestic product  3.7 

Imports and Exports by Country

Source: Statistics New Zealand. New Zealand imports and exports

Imports

In 2012, 27 percent of all goods imported were primary products and 72 percent were manufactured goods. Petroleum and products continue to be New Zealand's highest-value import, accounting for 18 percent of goods imported.

Main import commodities   2012 2007 
NZ$(million) 
Petroleum and products  8,366  5,785 
Mechanical machinery and equipment 6,071 5,230 
Vehicles, parts, and accessories  4,882  4,854 
Electrical machinery and equipment(1)  3,948  3,695 
Textiles and textile articles  2,116  1,877 
Plastic and plastic articles  1,685  1,567 
Optical, medical, and measuring equipment  1,337  1,177 
Iron and steel, and articles(1)  1,247  1,519 
Total – all commodities  47,451  41,165 

1. Values exclude confidential data 

Exports

In 2012, 70 percent of all goods exported were primary products and 25 percent were manufactured goods. Milk powder, butter, and cheese continue to be New Zealand's highest value export, accounting for 25 percent of goods exported.

Main export commodities  2012  2007 
NZ$(million) 
Milk powder, butter, and cheese  11,625  6,454 
Meat and edible offal  5,114  4,609 
Logs, wood, and wood articles(1)  3,060  2,203 
Crude oil  2,023  475 
Mechanical machinery and equipment  1,865  1,879 
Fruit  1,587  1,227 
Fish, crustaceans, and molluscs  1,367  1,153 
Wine  1,177  698 
Total – all commodities  46,688  34,934 
1. Values exclude confidential data 

Society

New Zealand has a similar sized population to Ireland, Singapore, and Norway. More people live in the North Island than the South Island, and far more live in the cities than in the country. Auckland, the largest city, is home to many people from the Pacific and Asia who have settled in the past 50 years. A democratically elected government contributes to schools, universities, and hospitals, so New Zealanders are generally well educated, healthy, and have a good standard of living. Christianity is the most common religion.

Social Well-being

Source: Statistics New Zealand. Social well-being

Culture

New Zealanders enjoy having fun. Gardening, reading, walking, and going to the beach are popular leisure activities. Sport – both playing and watching – is also very popular, and while the national rugby team are world champions, golf is the most commonly played game. There is a thriving film industry, and much creative art, music, literature, theatre, and fashion design is produced here. There are museums and galleries throughout New Zealand, along with many excellent cafés and restaurants.

Earnings

Earnings from wages and salaries  June quarter 
2014  2012 
(NZ$) 
Average hourly earnings  26.78  25.07 
Average weekly earnings  991  922 
Median hourly earnings  21.94  20.86 
Median weekly earnings  863  806 
Source: Statistics New Zealand. Retail price of selected items

International travel

New Zealand lies around 1,600km from Australia's eastern coast (a 3 hour flight) and 9,000 to 12,000km from all Pacific Rim destinations (10 to 16 hour flight). Auckland Airport is the busiest of several international airports. Peak travel times are December to February.

Short-term travel  2012  2007 
(million) 
Overseas visitor arrivals  2.6  2.5 
New Zealand-resident departures  2.2  1.9 
Top 10 visitor source countries
(Country of last permanent residence) 
2015 
Australia  1,304,384 
China, People's Republic of  327,904 
United States  237,312 
United Kingdom  198,960 
Japan  85,200 
Germany  81,648 
Korea, Republic of  60,416 
Canada  51,680 
Singapore  48,032 
India  43,920 

International Comparisons with our Top Five Visitor Source Countries

Subject  Unit  New Zealand  Australia  United Kingdom  United States  China, PR  Japan 
Total population (estimated)  Million  4.43  22.02  63.05  313.85  1,343.24  127.37 
Annual rate of population change  Percent  0.63  1.13  0.55  0.90  0.48  -0.08 
Male life expectancy at birth  Years of life  79.1  79.5  78.1  76.1  72.8  80.6 
Female life expectancy at birth  Years of life  82.8  84.5  82.4  81.1  77.1  87.4 
% of population aged 65+ years  Percent  13.8  14.4  16.9  13.5  9.1  23.9 
% of population aged under 15 years  Percent  20.1  18.2  17.3  20.0  17.4  13.5 
CPI change (annual)  Percent  1.0  1.2  2.7  1.9  2.9  0.2 
GDP per capita ( rounded)(1)(2)  US$  26,100  40,800  36,500  48,300  8,400  34,700 
Unemployment as % of labour force(1)  Percent  6.6  5.1  8.1  9.0  6.5  4.6 
Employment as % of working-age population(1)  Percent  72.6  72.7  70.4  66.6  74.2(3)  70.3 
1. Data for 2011. All other data is from 2012. 2. New Zealand data for year ended March. Other data for year ended June. 3. 2010.
Sources:
www.stats.govt.nz, www.cia.gov, stats.oecd.org, www.imf.org, World Bank. 

Population

2002  3,948,500 
2012 (est June 2012)  4,433,000 
2022 (projected)  4,840,000 
 
Age group (2012) 
Under 15 years  892,300 
15-39 years  1,497,000 
40-64 years  1,432,300 
65+ years  611,400 
Source: Statistics New Zealand. Estimated NZ population

Demography

Components of population change in the five years to 30 June 2012 
Natural increase    + 169,256 
  Live births  + 314,920 
  Deaths  - 145,664 
Net migration    + 34,427 
  Arrivals  + 424,213 
  Departures  - 389,786 

Labour Force

People in employment  2012  2007 
Sector  (thousand) 
Personal and community services  560.1  492.2 
Financial, insurance, and business services  363.5  341.9 
Retail trade and restaurants  331.1  344.7 
Manufacturing  246.5  264.3 
Construction  171.3  194.2 
Agriculture, mining, water, and electricity  171.2  168.9 
Transport and communications  154.4  133.3 
Public administration and safety  118.0  119.5 
Wholesale trade  98.4  98.2 
Not specified  5.9  8.8 
Total  2,220.4  2,166.2 

Agricultural Production

Source: Statistics New Zealand. Grazing stock

Source: Statistics New Zealand and licensed by Statistics NZ for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence.

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