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 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 yourself by checking out these interesting facts about New Zealand…
1. Where is New Zealand?
New Zealand is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, the southwesternmost part of Polynesia.
2. New Zealand is Further Away from Australia Than You Think.
New Zealand is a far-off land and lies more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Australia. New Zealand is, however, Australia’s nearest neighbour.
3. What Exactly IS New Zealand?
New Zealand is an archipelago… a chain or cluster of islands, in other words! Its coordinates are 0000° S, 174.0000° E.
The National Flag of New Zealand
4. New Zealand has a Growing Populous.
NZ had a population of 4.886 million in 2018. 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!
5. Much of New Zealand is Protected.
Approximately one third of NZ is protected national park.
6. New Zealand is Multi-Cultural.
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.
7. New Zealand Has a Physical Divide.
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.
8. New Zealand Owns a Variety of Territories.
New Zealand manages the South Pacific island group of Tokelau and titles a piece of the Antarctic continent.
9. What is the Capital of New Zealand?
Wellington, the world’s southernmost city, is the capital of NZ. This city has a population of 212,700 (2017) and extends to over 112 square miles (290 square kilometres).
NZ boasts not one, not two, but three official languages; English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language.
11. New Zealanders Live Long, Healthy Lives.
The life expectancy in NZ ranks amongst the highest in the world at 81.86 years (2018).
12. Try This Tongue Twister!
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.
13. Fancy a Tipple?
By the way, Hawkes Bay is home to awards winning wines… we’re adding it to our list of places to go in NZ…
14. New Zealand Has Curious Wildlife!
NZ is home to the world’s smallest dolphin species, the Māui – unfortunately they are ‘critically endangered’, with less than 100 in the wild.
15. New Zealand is a Tourist Hotspot.
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.
Queenstown Hill, Queenstown, New Zealand
16. New Zealand Has a Fitting Name.
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!
17. Big Scientific Leaps Took Place Here!
The first person in the world to split the atom in 1919 was Baron Ernest Rutherford, a New Zealander.
18. New Zealand is a Sporting Nation.
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.
19. New Zealand are Big Olympic Champions, Too.
New Zealand has won more Olympic gold medals per capita, than any other country.
20. NZ and the UK Share Anthems.
“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.
21. What Does ‘Kiwi’ Mean?
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.
22. NZ Breeds Famous Adventurers.
Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest, and you guessed it, he was a Kiwi!
23. Ever Seen an Arctic Bird Down Under?
Oddly, NZ is home to more species of penguins than any other country.
24. Critters Galore!
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!
25. Very Little Slithering!
On the plus side, there are no native or introduced land snakes in New Zealand.
26. New Zealand is Bats About Bats!
Bats are the only land mammals that are native to NZ; other animals were introduced by Māori and Europeans.
27. New Zealand Can Be Very Hilly!
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!
28. Can Dogs Drive Cars?
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 rather amazing video here on YouTube.
29. Trains, Planes and Automobiles!
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.
30. How Do You Get in Touch with New Zealanders?
To call your friends in New Zealand, you’ll need the international dialling code +64.
31. It’s Technically Fairly Sparse!
New Zealand is one of the world’s least populated countries.
A Kiwi – a flightless bird
32. The Air Force Loves Its Irony!
Kiwi, the national animal is the Royal New Zealand Air Force logo. It’s a bit ironic, knowing that the kiwi is actually a flightless bird.
33. A Nation of Animals!
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.
34. Out-Scotting the Scots?
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.
Christchurch, New Zealand
35. It’s Boating Country!
Auckland is home to the largest number of boats per capita in the world.
36. New Zealand is Largely Coast!
In New Zealand, If you fancy a beach holiday you’re never more than 128 kilometres from the coast. Convenient, don’t you think!
37. There are Peaks Galore Here.
If you want to test your climbing skills, there are plenty of mountains in New Zealand, like Mount Cook National Park which offers some many outstanding walks and mountaineering opportunities.
38. New Zealand Led the Way In Terms of Voting Laws.
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.
Air New Zealand
39. The World Wakes Up Here.
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.
40. A Nation of Extreme Sports Fans!
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!
41. New Zealand Has a Wizard!
The only country to have a government-appointed wizard is New Zealand. His official duties involve cheering up the population and casting spells.
42. New Zealand is a Nation of Motorists.
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.
43. NZ is the Heart of Tolkien Country.
Are you a fan of the trilogy Lord of the Rings? The famous director Peter Jackson is from New Zealand.
44. New Zealand is the Dairy Capital of the World.
For each person who lives in New Zealand, dairy farmers produce a whopping 100 kg of butter and 65 kg of cheese each year.
45. New Zealand Has Unique Birds!
The Kakapo, the world’s only flightless parrot can also be found in New Zealand.
Do you know any fun facts about New Zealand? Share them in the comments below!