Location: South-western Pacific Ocean
Language: English is the official language
Total Area: 268,680 sq km
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 9.62 liters
Curious Alcohol Fact: The drinking age in New Zealand was recently dropped from twenty to eighteen.The most popular drink: Beer is the most popular drink in New Zealand, accounting for 63% of total alcohol
New Zealand is an island country made up of two larger land masses and numerous smaller islands. Because the country is so remote, it was actually one of the last places on Earth to ever be settled by human beings. A striking and natural wonder, New Zealand was at one time 80% forest and, because of this, was home to a diverse group of birds, many of which became extinct once settlers arrived and introduced mammals into the area. A bird that survived the original influx of humans, but now sadly is endangered, is the Kiwi bird, the national symbol of New Zealand.
New Zealand was first settled by Eastern Polynesians who braved the harsh waters of the Pacific Ocean in handmade canoes. Next to reach its sandy shores were the European settlers in the late 1700s that literally changed the face of New Zealand as they cleared the forests to build their towns and cities. Like its neighbor Australia, New Zealand is a wild and rugged place to live, and the people spend as much time outdoors as they can, enjoying the natural beauty of the land around them. And with so much coastline, is it any wonder that many New Zealanders love kayaking, windsurfing and sailing?
While traveling through New Zealand I found myself invited to many “teas.” Unlike British ‘tea’ - which is usually an afternoon meal of hot tea and finger sandwiches – “tea” in New Zealand refers to dinner, and it is the most special meal of the day when friends and family come together to celebrate life and love. Sometimes dinner will include a barbecue, and if lucky enough to be invited, it is customary to bring beer and wine, or sometimes meat, which the host will cook for the group to enjoy. Dining in restaurants has become more and more popular among New Zealanders, with cuisine focusing on Mediterranean and Asian techniques and ingredients. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the land of Kiwis, try the paua (a type of abalone) fritters, you won’t be sorry.
Similar to its neighbor to the west, Australia, New Zealand is witnessing a steady shift in the beverage of choice of its people. For many years, beer was practically the official drink of the Kiwis. But, like Australia, New Zealand has made a name for itself in the international wine circuit, and more and more people are now choosing a glass of wine with dinner, especially a glass of Pinot Noir, instead of a pint of beer.
One of the biggest holidays in New Zealand is called Waitangi Day. It is celebrated on the 6th of February, and it commemorates the signing of New Zealand's founding document - the Treaty of Waitangi - in 1840. On this day people all over the country celebrate with storytelling, music, dance, food and boat races.
Story By World By Shotglass
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).