Around 180 million years ago New Zealand broke away from a giant landmass called Gondwana and drifted nearly 3,000km south to where it sits today. Polynesians sailed here in the early 1300s, following their ancestor Kupe, who had named the country Aotearoa – “Land of the Long White Cloud”.

Dutch explorer Abel Tasman arrived in 1642, naming the land “Nieuw Zeeland”. European settlement began in 1769 with the arrival of British navigator Captain James Cook. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi confirmed New Zealand as a British colony and it became an independent nation in 1947.

A visit to any of the country’s excellent museums will fill you in on everything that’s led us to where we are now – a modern, multi-cultural nation enjoying an enviable Pacific lifestyle.

Image: Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua.