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Economy, Transportation and Communications

Ownership of motor vehicles, passenger rail cars, New Zealand Herald, national airline, Evening Post

New Zealand has 92,000 km (57,000 mi) of road, 63 percent of which is paved. Most roads, even between big towns, are only two lanes. In rural areas one-lane bridges are common, and occasionally motor vehicles and trains must share them. The networks of urban motorways planned for Auckland and Wellington in the 1960s have yet to be completed. Ownership of motor vehicles is high by international standards, with approximately 1 vehicle for every two people.

The country has about 3,900 km (2,400 mi) of narrow-gauge rail track, forming a rail network that links most of the country’s urban and agricultural centers. Developed by the state, the rail network was sold to private enterprise in the early 1990s. The network includes ferries carrying freight and passenger rail cars from Wellington to the South Island. Substantial quantities of goods are transported by rail. Passenger travel is limited to some long-distance trains, used mainly by tourists, and commuter networks in Wellington and Auckland. The principal shipping ports are at Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, and Lyttelton (near Christchurch).

Air travel is the preferred mode of travel between major cities. Air transport is widely used, with numerous airfields located throughout the country to serve private pilots. Air New Zealand, the national airline, and the Australian airline Qantas operate international as well as domestic flights. The primary international airports, serving many different airlines, are in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

The communications industry in New Zealand is competitive, with a number of companies offering Internet access, cellular-phone services, and basic local and long-distance telephone services. The government sold its national telecommunications company to the private sector in 1989. Nearly all homes have telephones, and New Zealanders are avid Internet users.

Two dozen daily newspapers are published in New Zealand, but none is distributed nationwide. The highest-circulation newspapers are the New Zealand Herald, published in Auckland; the Press, in Christchurch; and the Dominion and the Evening Post, both in Wellington. Freedom of the press is guaranteed in the New Zealand Bill of Rights, and government regulation of the media industry is minimal.

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