Are you an outdoor enthusiast? If you are, in New Zealand, you’ll find everything you seek, from the untamed wasteland, soaring mountains, mist-cloaked fjords, golden beaches, to the small charming towns with big doses of laid-back magic.
Due to the hospitable residents, you’ll probably meet new friends that’ll show you the calm bays of the North, the sky-high mountains to the South, and all sorts of beauty in-between. So if you’re up for the experience start preparing by reading these interesting facts about New Zealand…
New Zealand is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, the southwesternmost part of Polynesia.
New Zealand is a far-off land and lies more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Australia.
New Zealand is Australia’s nearest neighbour.
New Zealand is an archipelago… a chain or cluster of islands, in other words!
Its coordinates are 0000° S, 174.0000° E.
NZ had a population of 4.886 million in 2018.
The National Flag of New Zealand
With an area of 103,483 square miles (268,021 square kilometres) New Zealand’s population is relatively small compared to a population of 66.65 (2019) million in the UK, despite being similar in size!
Approximately one third of NZ is protected national park.
15% of the population are Māori.
The Maori are an aboriginal tribe, thought have emigrated from the Polynesian Islands to New Zealand between 800-1300AD.
The country includes two main islands, the North and South islands, and several small islands, some of them hundreds of miles from the main group.
New Zealand manages the South Pacific island group of Tokelau and titles a piece of the Antarctic continent.
Wellington, the world’s southernmost city, is the capital of NZ. This city has a population of 212,700 (2017) and a total area amounting to 112 square miles (290 square kilometres).
NZ boasts not one, not two, but three official languages; English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language.
The life expectancy in NZ is among the highest in the world, 81.66 years (2017).
Named by the Māori, Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu, a 1,000 foot hill in Porangahau, near Hawkes Bay, has the longest place name in the world! Translated, it means “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘landeater’, played his flute to his loved one.” Lovely! The locals, however, just call it Taumata Hill.
By the way, Hawkes Bay is home to awards winning wines… we’re adding it to our list of places to go in NZ…
NZ is home to the world’s smallest dolphin species, the Māui Unfortunately they are ‘critically endangered’, with less than 100 in the wild.
TripAdvisor named NZ’s Milford Sound as the world’s top travel destination in 2008 and Wanderlust Magazine voted NZ as the world’s best country in 2007 and 2008.
New Zealand’s Maori name is Aotearoa meaning the land of the long white cloud. If you look up in the sky in New Zealand you’ll find out why they went with this name!
The first person in the world to split the atom in 1919 was Baron Ernest Rutherford, a New Zealander.
Rugby is the most popular spectator sport in New Zealand, while golf is the most popular participation sport, with more golf courses in New Zealand per capita of population than any other country in the world.
The first-ever Rugby World Cup, held in 1987, was won by New Zealand.
New Zealand has won more Olympic gold medals per capita, than any other country.
“God Save the Queen”, England’s national anthem, was the first national anthem of New Zealand.
New Zealand’s more commonly recognised national anthem, “God Defend New Zealand”, became the second national anthem in the 1970s by request, and with the Queen’s blessing.
Queenstown Hill, Queenstown, New Zealand
Kiwi is an endearing nickname for people from NZ; it originates from the native Kiwi, a flightless bird which is also the country’s national symbol.
Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest, and you guessed it, he was a Kiwi!
Oddly, NZ is home to more species of penguins than any other country.
If you don’t like creepy crawlies, perhaps skip this fact… The heaviest insect in the world, the Giant Weta lives in New Zealand. Unfortunately, it’s heavier than a sparrow and looks like a giant cockroach which makes us shiver in our boots!
On the plus side, there are no native or introduced land snakes in New Zealand.
Bats are the only land mammals that are native to NZ; other animals were introduced by Māori and Europeans.
Auckland, New Zealand
NZ has the steepest hill in the world! Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, has gradient of 1 in 2.86 at its steepest section – a 38% grade!
The SPCA taught two Kiwi rescue dogs to drive a car around a track, in order to prove the intelligence of shelter animals! You can find this incredible video here on YouTube…
Something you won’t see in the UK – Gisborne airport has train tracks running across the middle of the runway and often you’ll see trains and planes having to stop until one of them moves out of the way.
To call your friends in New Zealand, you’ll need the international dialling code +64.
New Zealand is one of the world’s least populated countries.
Kiwi, the national animal is the Royal New Zealand Air Force logo. It’s a bit ironic, knowing the fact that the kiwi is a flightless bird.
Of the entire living population in New Zealand, only 5% are human.
New Zealand is an honoured supporter of the highest human to animal ratio in the world! It’s a great place to see some wildlife up-close.
There are more Scottish pipe bands per capita in New Zealand than Scotland itself.
To see some of Scotland’s influence on New Zealand architecture and culture go to Dunedin, named after the Gaelic name for Edinburgh. There you can even visit Larnach Castle, the only castle in New Zealand.
Auckland is home to the largest number of boats per capita in the world.
In New Zealand, more than one-third of the entire country is composed of protected land and marine areas.
New Zealand is known for its incredible scenery because the country has been carefully protected and unspoiled. So while in the country, a visit to some of the national parks is an absolute must!
In New Zealand, If you fancy a beach holiday you’re never more than 128 kilometres from the coast. Convenient, don’t you think!
Not a snake fan! New Zealand is just the place for you, there aren’t any snakes there. None!
Besides being snakes free, there are also no native mammals, excluding the bat, in New Zealand. Every mammal you see in New Zealand has been introduced over the years.
Sir Edmund Hillary, the famous New Zealander, was the first person to summit Everest along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.
If you want to test your climbing skills, there are plenty of mountains in New Zealand, like Mount Cook National Park offering some outstanding walks and mountaineering opportunities.
There are more different species of penguins in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world.
There are many spots in New Zealand to spy on these shy birds. There’s a wildlife tour if you want to see the blue penguin, Fiordland crested penguin, or the yellow-eyed penguin.
New Zealand was the first major nation to have a universal right to vote in political elections. Regardless of gender, all citizens have legally been allowed to vote, since 1893.
Since 2011, Gisborne, a city on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is the first city in the world to see the sunrise.
Commercial bungee jumping was designed in New Zealand. A.J Hackett, one of the designers, tried out his bungee cords by sneaking up the Eiffel tower one morning and jumping off!
The only country to have a government-appointed wizard is New Zealand. His official duties involve cheering up the population and casting spells.
New Zealanders love cars, there are 2.5 million cars for 4 million people, kids included, which makes New Zealand’s car ownership rate one of the highest in the world.
In New Zealand waters you can find the Hector’s Dolphin, the world’s smallest marine dolphin, which grows to a maximum length of 1.5 metres.
The Kakapo, the world’s only flightless parrot can also be found in New Zealand.
For each person who lives in New Zealand, dairy farmers produce a whopping 100 kg of butter and 65 kg of cheese each year.
Are you a fan of the trilogy Lord of the Rings? The famous director Peter Jackson is from New Zealand.
Do you have any fun or interesting facts about New Zealand that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!