New Zealand is an island nation in the south western part of the Pacific Ocean, consisting of two main islands the North and South which are surrounded by 700 smaller islands. The indigenous peoples of New Zealand are of Polynesian descent and have developed a distinctive Maori culture. The population of New Zealand is 4.89 million, with most individuals congregating in the larger towns of the nation’s capital Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
So many movies have been filmed in New Zealand owing to its mystical and magical landscape with majestic mountains, mist covered fjords, pristine beaches and marine life in abundance. New Zealand offers adventures of a lifetime. Activities include a visit to Hobbit Town (Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies); immerse yourself in the hot thermal springs of Rotorua; take the long alpine crossing of Tongariro and view the panoramic views of the UNESCO heritage site of crater lakes and active volcanic areas; whale watch year round in Kaikoura; escape to the wonderous Milford Sound and witness glassy waters, numerous waterfalls in Fiordland National Park; or experience bungy jumping off a suspension bridge in Queenstown.
The land of the long white cloud, beaches and mountains is truly beautiful. Being sparsely populated by people, New Zealand does have a very high population of sheep! For every 1 New Zealander there is on average 6 sheep. The average New Zealand accent is a muddle and mix of Australian, South African and American. ‘Kiwi’s’ (slang for a New Zealander) does possess its own vernacular that is worthwhile learning prior to landing in NZ. For example, a cool box or Eski is a ‘chilli bin’, flip-flops are ‘jandals’ and the local shop is called a ‘dairy’.
Rugby or football to some is a loved and revered sport in New Zealand. The All Blacks (official NZ professional rugby team) have over a hundred years of history in the sport, beginning each international game with a traditional Māori ‘haka’ war dance. This dance was originally used to terrify the opposition prior to a battle. Now it is used symbolically to terrify the opposing rugby team!
Māori actually means ‘ordinary’! This was the classification that the indigenous peoples of New Zealand gave themselves to distinguish them from the Europeans (Dutch than British settlers). Around 15% of the New Zealand population are Māori whose customs, culture and beliefs originated over 1000 years ago from Eastern Polynesia. Learn simple words and greetings in Māori such as Kia Ora (hello and thankyou). Māori art is more than just decorative. It outlines myths, legends and historical roots both in body art and in and around Marae’s (meeting houses). The emotional and powerful kapa haka (line dance) is an explosion on the senses with colour, traditional dress, drums, harmonies and tapestry.
Visa turnaround – 90 days
Australia is a big and diverse country
Australia is the largest island, and the 6th largest country in the world. In spite of this large land mass; the population of Australia is only 24 million (and growing) with people mostly concentrating in the capital cities. Sydney and Melbourne are the largest cities in Australia with nearly 40% of the entire population. Other popular capital cities include the nations capital Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin.
Australia has a diverse landscape that ranges from tropical, suotropical and cool temperate rainforests to sandy white beaches and snow covered Alps. Australia has amazing beaches, surfing, fishing, cattle stations, city skyscrapers and an endless outback of desert that covers one- third of Australia’s entire land mass! With swimming, skiing and shopping- Australia has an environment to suit everyones personal taste.
Australia has a plethora of distinctive and unique ancient animals, including the platypus, kangaroo, echidna and koala; as well as deadly snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies! Australia has no less than 516 national parks to protect its native wilderness.
Melbourne and Sydney were respectively ranked 1st and 2nd in the QS best Student Cities Ranking 2018 (Student Mix Rank). Australia has ranked 8th in the best environment in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2017 Wordwide Education for the Future Index overall results.Australia is also ranked 9th in the world 2017 Legulum Prosperity Index.
Canada is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with 80% of its population living in urban centres. The three largest cities are Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal. Being one of the largest countries in the world in land mass, Canada is part of North America and provides a multitude of sporting activities, an abundance of scenic tours, vibrant cities and a diverse culture enjoyed by people from a variety of backgrounds.
In the Economist’s 2017 ranking of the world’s most liveable cities, no less than three Canadian cities placed in the top ten. They were Vancouver (third), Toronto (fourth) and Calgary (fifth). Canada enjoys world class healthcare, education, environment, stability and infrastructure. With its capital Ottawa; Canada has two official languages- English and French adding to the multicultural flavour.
Although most of the population chooses to live in the cities of Canada, the vast landscapes will provide something for everyone! From the rugged coastline of the Pacific Rim, lush tropical rainforests, hot deserts, coyboy country badlands, stunning blue lakes and sweeping granite mountains; Canada provides an abundance of opportunity to explore!
Ice- hockey is practically a religion in Canada! Hockey orginating in England has been converted onto the icy lakes of Canada to see Canadian players triumph in the winter Olympics six times! (1976, 1984, 1987, 1991, 2004, 2016).
Who doesn’t love maple syrup on pancakes, better yet maple bacon, or maple syrup cupcakes! The sweet syrup is found in most Canadian kitchens and is made from sap from a maple tree, whose leaves turn a deep red in the autumn. Today, Canada produces 71% of the world’s maple syrup.
With vibrant cities and picturesque scenery, Germany is situated in Western Europe and boasts a population of just over 83 million. With Berlin the German capital, Hamburg, Munich Cologne and Frankfurt make up the top 5 cities of where people choose to live work and study!
Germany has it all! Stunning golden beaches: cities filled with a vibrant modern art and nightclub scene; rolling hills, snow covered alps and fish filled lakes and rivers. Clear waters and white sandy beaches ring the coastline of the North and Baltic Seas. With more than two millennia of history, Germany hosts Roman ruins, historic sites and museums, beer gardens galore and castles that paint a picture of a bygone era.
Formality and titles are important in Germany. So too is the custom of shaking hands with everyone! Good manners are a sign of respect when meeting and greeting people in Germany. The environment and getting around using ‘people power’ is highly encouraged in German society. Using bicycles and walking is common, alongside recycling and using solar power. While the official language is German, you’ll find a great many Germans are multilingual- speaking fluent English and French as well!
The Republic of Ireland is the second largest island of the British Isles and is located in the North Atlantic sea of Western Europe. With a shift in population from rural to city centres, its capital Dublin hosts over 1.173 million individuals out of the nearly 5 million people across nearly 100 towns within the Republic of Ireland.
The island is divided into two. The Republic of Ireland in the south occupies 9/10th of the island and Northern Ireland or Ulster occupies the rest of the northern part of the island and belongs to the United Kingdom.
Dublin is a lively (particularly at night) town full of locals and tourists socialising in the pub or attending rugby and football matches! The Emerald Isle has plenty of walking tours and historic buildings such as Trinity College.
Once out of Dublin, you understand why Ireland has been nicknamed the ‘ Emerald Island’. The lush greenery is truly magical. As an Island there are plenty of coastal villages and sandy beaches. Ireland also boasts 300 metre cliffs in Galway named the cliffs of Moher. With stunning scenic lookouts across waterfalls and historic sights, beautiful Killarney National Park is also a delight.
Spread all over Ireland are castles! Some are grand with gorgeous gardens, whilst most sadly have gone to ruin but are worth a visit if interested in history. The top three castles are Blarney Castle, Rock of Cashel and Kilkenny Castle.
Guinness is an alcoholic drink originating in Ireland in 1759. Its brewed from a dry stout flavoured from malted barley. Not only consumed in pubs worldwide, Guinness is a pantry staple used to soften meat and drizzle over ice-cream!
Potatoes love the soil of Ireland and are credited to have kept many Irish individuals alive during the ‘Great Famine’ of 1845 – 1849. Today the Irish cook potatoes a hundred different delightful ways and are rich in nutrients.
The Irish jig is renown for its lively music on violins (or fiddles) and straight backed, hands rigid dancers whose feet move in lightning speed gracefully and rhythmically. Irish pubs often entertain their guests with a roaring fire, plenty of Guinness and ale and a live band that invites ones feet to tap and jump to the sounds of old.
“America’, the “US” or “USA” is one of the most populous in the world with a population over 328 million. To date USA has the largest international student population, with over 1 million students choosing to continue their studies and experience life in America.
USA is truly huge. Each of its 50 states is unique. Its vastness sees a multitude of cultures, scenery, history and experiences. Travelling between states will see changes in dialects, accents, laws and politics!
Whether its riding like a cowboy, shopping in Rodeo Drive, skiing like a pro or riding the river rapids – the USA has it all! With incredibly beautiful and picturesque mountain ranges and vibrant forests, the US has 412 national parks covering 84 million acres of land to explore!
Be prepared for some wonderful traditions and ways of doing things in America. Never forget to tip! Although optional; restaurant, taxi and accommodation staff rely on tips to assist with their wages. The going rate is usually 15- 20% of the total bill. Driving is on the right, guns are important, they use the imperial system of measurement, food portions are massive, and Halloween is an amazing time to dress up and mingle with friends, peers and neighbours!