History and Culture

cultureNew Zealand is a land of stories, mysteries and legends

The feat of just getting to New Zealand makes this land and the exploration of it a study in itself.  The rich Maori culture dates back centuries and begins in Hawaiki over 1000 years ago, travelling across in canoes to this beautiful land.  A Dutchman, Abel Tasman, was the first European to see this land.  The British lead by Captain James Cook has shaped New Zealand into the culturally diverse country it is today. 

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the British and Maori.  This set the tone of British law in New Zealand and is considered the founding document.  This defining moment took place in Northland at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, a popular tourist attraction today.  The Treaty Grounds shares a fascinating look into both Maori and European history in early New Zealand..  

In Auckland, majestic old homes show the finer side of colonial life. Napier captures the glamour and architecture freedom of the 1930s, and Wellington takes a look at older Government Buildings, the largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere.

The South Island’s heritage sites encompass the hardship of the gold rush days, the glamour of high society and the day-to-day toil of pioneer farmers. You can visit everything from an old gold mine, pioneer cottage to New Zealand’s only castle in Dunedin.

In the North Island sits the geothermal region of Rotorua, the heartland of Maori culture and a great place to see and learn the stories and culture of the Maori people.  There are many museums and culture show to experience while visiting Rotorua.

New Zealand has a large number of museums you can visit to learn more about the country, the people and the history.  Most museums have their own specialities:

  • Auckland Museum is known for an impressive collection of Maori and Polynesian artefacts
  • Te Papa in Wellington offers a very modern, and often interactive, learning experience
  • Canterbury Museum has a strong focus on Antarctica
  • Otago Museum in Dunedin takes an in-depth look at the natural and social history of the South Island
  • The provincial cities also have plenty to show you - check out Puke Ariki in New Plymouth and the wearable art museum in Nelson.
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