Aotearoa New Zealand is a sports loving island nation in the South Pacific with a diversity of place and people that make it a popular destination with visitors from all round the world.
Located about 1,600 kilometres (990 miles) south-east of Australia, the country is made up of two main islands – the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and South Island (Te Waipounamu) - and is roughly the size of Japan or the British Isles. With countless off-shore islands New Zealand has vastly contrasting geographical and regional climatic conditions setting the scene for outdoor adventures and a unique Pacific lifestyle.
A population of 4.5 million makes the country refreshingly un-crowded and provides an enviable balance of urban sophistication with a laid back lifestyle. Today’s New Zealanders are the product of a diverse ethnic population - Māori, European, Pacific Islander, and Asian for the most part - each different but together forming a rich cultural landscape that translates into an endless array of experiences and events.
Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and have a rich and dynamic culture that captures their age-old connection with the spiritual and natural worlds – a proud culture that can be explored and experienced throughout New Zealand.
From New Zealand’s sub-tropical far north - where you can stand on the tip of the North Island to witness the merging of two oceans, to the deep south of the South Island - the final land mass before the ice shelves of Antarctica - each region has its own character and stories to tell.
Few countries in the world can boast New Zealand's range of natural features - from high peaks and glaciers in vast mountain ranges to sub-tropical rainforests, lush rolling farmland to geothermal activity, white and black sand beaches to desert-like plains, and unpopulated islands - all within one compact land.
With a third of New Zealand protected in national parks and reserves, the wilderness is always close and there are no dangerous animals or insects. 15,811 kilometres (9,824 miles) of coastline (longer than that of mainland United States) makes New Zealand an ocean lover’s paradise.
New Zealanders are affectionately known as ‘Kiwis’, named after the small flightless bird that is an iconic symbol of the country. One of the country’s notable qualities is the warm, friendly people which earned the country a listing in the top 10 of the world’s most welcoming countries according to the World Economic Forum. New Zealand punches above its weight in many areas – particularly sport – and has produced some of the world's top athletes, notably in multi-sports, rugby, and yachting. Kiwis love to get out and about and are great supporters of any event.
On the international stage New Zealand is a young country – the last habitable land mass on earth to be settled by humankind – contributing to its reputation for creative thinking and leading innovation. Kiwis ‘can do’ attitude has placed them at the top of many fields – including sport and industry – and the legendary kiwi ingenuity and innovation is a result of the youthful pioneering heritage.
The tourism industry in New Zealand is no exception - the Hamilton Jetboat, ski plane, bungy jump, blokart and Zorb are all examples of Kiwi inventions that have pushed traditional boundaries of travel and embody the Kiwi sense of adventure.
These examples have provided more unique ways to experience some of New Zealand’s most scenic locations. New Zealand continues to push innovation in a range of other fields, from its traditional export industries of agriculture and dairy, to newer growth areas such as film production, fresh cuisine and award-winning wine. To learn more about New Zealand, visit newzealand.com.
Football in New Zealand
Football is one of New Zealand's most popular sports. With strong ties to the United Kingdom and Europe, it was only natural that football (known nationwide as ‘soccer’ until 2007) would have an impact on the country. The capital city Wellington, located at the base of the North Island, is home to New Zealand’s only professional football team, the Wellington Phoenix.
One of the earliest known football clubs in New Zealand is Roslyn Wakari AFC. Established in 1888, this Dunedin-based football club celebrated its 125th golden jubilee in 2013 and even preceded the creation of the New Zealand Football Association (NZFC), formed in 1891.
They NZFC became officially affiliated with FIFA in 1948, and was also a founding member of the Oceania Football Confederation, to which it still belongs. The governing body became New Zealand Football in 2007.
The various national football teams of New Zealand are made up of the New Zealand National Football Team - also known as the All Whites - the Football Ferns, NZ U-23, Junior All Whites, Young All Whites, Junior Football Ferns, Young Football Ferns and the Futsal Whites. The All Whites’ biggest success to-date has been reaching the finals of two FIFA World Cups - Spain 1982, South Africa 2010.
Spain gave New Zealand football a chance to shine on the world stage like never before, but it was in at the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010, that the team really made their mark; three draws in three games saw them exit as the only unbeaten team in the tournament. The New Zealand women’s team, the Football Ferns, took things a step further when they reached the quarter-finals of the London Olympics in 2012, only to be ousted by eventual winners USA.
The 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup is the third major international football tournament to be held in New Zealand after the country hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1999 and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008.