One thing to keep in mind is that in a big pond the ratio of water volume to fish is probably much larger than a tank which means the fish don't have such a dramatic and quick impact on the overall water quality. If you are putting a lot of big fish in a small pond, then reverse would be true.
A quite extreme example is when I had just three fry in a 400 liter pond. I didn't record any ammonia or nitrites ever, even though the fry were obviously eating and growing and getting bigger. Once I put the other 9 fish in, then I started getting readings but I think my filter had matured biologically by then.
Also, having a pond full of plants, bugs, snails, wildlife should all help with certain aspects of water quality.
As well as cycling the pond, it is just as important to make sure the tap water you add to the pond has been treated to remove the chlorine etc.
Yes, the nitrate cycle is the same in a pond as in an aquarium. And just like a tank filter, you can cycle your pond filter with live fish, fish food, bottled ammonia (without additives), or some combination of those options.