Mount Cook in the South Island is the best known of the mountains and a great tourist attraction. The Franz Josef glacier is another natural attraction. Tourists reach it and land by ski plane. The New Zealand government operates twelve resort hotels located at most of the more glamourous natural-beauty spots. There are ten national parks.
Except for highways around Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand roads are country style narrow and winding. Even the principal highway No. 1, running north and south, includes numerous one-lane bridges slow and without recommendation.
A distinct concern for the motoring traveler is the lack of public toilets. Service stations do not provide them and while a number of small towns have one set of public toilets (usually very well kept), some towns have none. Numerous small snack shops offering “teas” also lack public facilities. In some sections the only public facilities are for ladies. Men shift for themselves, very likely ending up asking to use a toilet in a garage. The Automobile Association has offices in most of the larger towns. Directions and maps are offered but not restrooms.
The principal population centers are Auckland and Wellington on the North Island, Christchurch and Dunedin on the South Island. Auckland, with a population of almost 800,000, is more than double that of Wellington, the capital. It also has the largest Polynesian population in the world. (Polynesians comprise about 14 percent of the total population of New Zealand. The original Maori tribes have been supplemented by large numbers of immigrants from Tonga, the Cook Islands, Western Samoa, and other South Sea islands.)
The vast majority of New Zealanders are ethnic English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish.