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Not by chance was New Zealand chosen to represent Tolkien’s ancient Middle-Earth in the
film trilogy The Lord of the Rings. “Vast and varied, breathtakingly beautiful and perilous,”
the land harks back to a mythological past. Positioned, almost, on the 180th meridian
in the Pacific Ocean, and straddling the furthest reaches, east and west of Greenwich
Mean Time, New Zealand is remote, and even sometimes inadvertently left off world
maps. This remoteness might be one of its greatest assets. It is off the beaten track, with
a wilderness of World Heritage national parks to explore – embracing ice-carved fiords,
lakes, valleys, and towering mountains; lush lowland forests and limestone canyons where
the birdlife is prolific; and spectacular volcanic features imbued with Maori cultural and
spiritual associations.
Set against this stunning background are the New Zealanders, just 4.6 million of them in
an area of 103,500 square miles – equating to fifteen people per square mile – who, not
surprisingly, are passionate about their country and the quality of life it offers. Kiwis, as
they are affectionately known, are friendly, helpful, and fiercely equalitarian. The rugged
grafters of pioneer days have mellowed into a café-loving culture where good coffee is an
art, local Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs have edged out foreign competition, and taste
for the country’s craft-beer is growing exponentially. All great companions for enjoying the
prowess of the All Blacks rugby team in action!
Culture Smart! New Zealand offers insights into a country that is reflecting on its identity,
having shed its colonial past and now moving from a bicultural society (Maori and European)
toward a new multiculturalism. Despite the challenges ahead – a declining agricultural
sector and the consequences for an economy that depends largely on international trade –
New Zealand society is resilient, underpinned by the values of anti-materialism, tolerance,
patience, and commonsense, and driven by a shared passion about being a Kiwi.

Not by chance was New Zealand chosen to represent Tolkien’s ancient Middle-Earth in the film trilogy The Lord of the Rings. “Vast and varied, breathtakingly beautiful and perilous,” the land harks back to a mythological past. Positioned, almost, on the 180th meridian in the Pacific Ocean, and straddling the furthest reaches, east and west of Greenwich Mean Time, New Zealand is remote, and even sometimes inadvertently left off world maps. This remoteness might be one of its greatest assets. It is off the beaten track, with a wilderness of World Heritage national parks to explore – embracing ice-carved fiords, lakes, valleys, and towering mountains; lush lowland forests and limestone canyons where the birdlife is prolific; and spectacular volcanic features imbued with Maori cultural and spiritual associations.

Set against this stunning background are the New Zealanders, just 4.6 million of them in an area of 103,500 square miles – equating to fifteen people per square mile – who, not surprisingly, are passionate about their country and the quality of life it offers. Kiwis, as they are affectionately known, are friendly, helpful, and fiercely equalitarian. The rugged grafters of pioneer days have mellowed into a café-loving culture where good coffee is an art, local Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs have edged out foreign competition, and taste for the country’s craft-beer is growing exponentially. All great companions for enjoying the prowess of the All Blacks rugby team in action!

Culture Smart! New Zealand offers insights into a country that is reflecting on its identity, having shed its colonial past and now moving from a bicultural society (Maori and European) toward a new multiculturalism. Despite the challenges ahead – a declining agricultural sector and the consequences for an economy that depends largely on international trade – New Zealand society is resilient, underpinned by the values of anti-materialism, tolerance, patience, and commonsense, and driven by a shared passion about being a Kiwi.

Ljiljana Ortolja-Baird was born in Australia and graduated from the University of Melbourne. She has an M.A. in English from the University of London. She has worked as an editor and publisher with various trade publishers, most recently with the Hachette group. Currently she is the editor of the IMCoS Journal, which is dedicated to the study of the history of cartography, and assistant editor on the academic journal Imago Mundi.


"Culture Smart has come to the rescue of hapless travellers." Sunday Times Travel

"... the perfect introduction to the weird, wonderful and downright odd quirks and customs of various countries." Global Travel

"...full of fascinating-as well as common-sense-tips to help you avoid embarrassing faux pas." Observer

"...as useful as they are entertaining." Easyjet Magazine

"...offer glimpses into the psyche of a faraway world." New York Times