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New Zealand - Holidays, Flights and Hotels

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New Zealand comprises two main islands (called the North and South Islands in English, Te-Ika-a-Maui and Te Wai Pounamu in Maori) and a number of smaller islands. The total land area of New Zealand, 268,680 square kilometres (103,738 sq mi), is a little less than that of Japan and a little more than the United Kingdom. The country extends more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) along its main, north-north-east axis. The most significant of the smaller inhabited islands of New Zealand include Stewart Island / Rakiura; Waiheke Island, in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf; Great Barrier Island, east of the Hauraki Gulf; and the Chatham Islands, named Rekohu by Moriori. The country has extensive marine resources, with the fifth-largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering over four million square kilometres (1.5 million sq mi), more than 15 times its land area.

The South Island is the largest land mass, and is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Aoraki/Mount Cook, 3,754 metres (12,316 ft). There are 18 peaks of more than 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) in the South Island. The North Island is less mountainous than the South, but is marked by volcanism. The tallest North Island mountain, Mount Ruapehu (2,797 m / 9,176 ft), is an active cone volcano. The dramatic and varied landscape of New Zealand has made it a popular location for the production of television programmes and films, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The climate throughout the country is mild, mostly cool temperate to warm temperate, with temperatures rarely falling below 0C (32F) or rising above 30C (86F). Conditions vary from wet and cold on the West Coast of the South Island to dry and continental in the Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury and subtropical in Northland. Of the main cities, Christchurch is the driest, receiving only some 640 mm (25 in) of rain per year. Auckland, the wettest, receives a little less than three times.

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All visitors who are not citizens of New Zealand need a passport to enter. Australian passport holders may enter New Zealand without a visa and stay as long as they wish without restrictions (including on employment). British passport holders can be granted a visa-free Visitor's Permit for up to six months on arrival. Citizens of a large number of other countries can be granted a visa-free visitor's entry for up to three months on arrival, check the list of Visa Free Countries. All these waivers, including the one for Australians, can be refused. In particular, potential visitors with criminal records or who have been refused entry to or deported from any country should check with New Zealand immigration about whether they need to apply for a visa.

Visitors from countries not in the visa-free list or those wishing to stay longer than the maximum visa-free period for their nationality, will need to apply for an appropriate visa. Check the Immigration New Zealand web page for details.