New Zealand is a magical land full of breathtaking nature, wild adventure and rich culture. Located about 1,200 miles east of Australia, New Zealand was first settled by Polynesians around 1300 A.D., who were followed by the first European arrival in 1642—though it would take nearly two centuries for permanent British settlement to begin in 1840.
Today, a cultural mix of just under five million “Kiwis” call New Zealand home, most of whom live on the country’s two main islands, named (easily enough) the North Island and the South Island. All told, the 600 or so islands of New Zealand comprise about 268,000 square kilometers (103,500 square miles), making the country slightly larger than the United Kingdom, but slightly smaller than Italy. The country has an excellent reputation in terms of LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion, and is generally considered a bit more progressive than its big sister to the west, Australia.
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