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45 Facts About New Zealand That Are Guaranteed To Blow Your Mind

Wanaka New Zealand

There’s a lot to love about New Zealand, from its glorious landscapes to its diverse people. Its unique combination of beauty and history make it one of the most magical places in the world. You probably already know that New Zealand drives on the left-hand side of the road or that the capital city is Wellington. But do you know about the native carnivorous snail or the meaning of New Zealand’s Māori name? If not, it’s time to get to know the country better. So, here are 45 interesting facts about New Zealand that are guaranteed to blow your mind. 

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1. There are three types of Kiwis in New Zealand: the bird, the fruit and the people.

2. Auckland is known as the “city of sails” with more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.

3. The hill called Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, in Hawkes Bay has the longest place name in the world.

4. There is nowhere in New Zealand that is more than 128 km away from the ocean.

5. The national sport in New Zealand is rugby. You probably know their famous rugby team called “The All Blacks”. They perform the Haka, a traditional Maori war dance, at the beginning of every match. 

6. Only 5% of NZ’s population is human (the rest are animals).

7. NZ is home to more species of penguins than any other country. Thirteen of the world’s 18 penguin species have been recorded in New Zealand.

Penguin crossing sign

8. Wellington is the southernmost capital city in the world.

9. Blue Lake, in Nelson Lakes National Park, has the clearest water in the world.

10. New Zealand is one of several large islands around the globe where there have never been native snake populations.

11. The world’s first commercial Bungy operation was founded by New Zealander A.J Hackett and opened at the Kawarau Bridge in November 1988.

12. The lowest denomination in NZ currency is the 10 cent coin.

13. According to Guinness World Records, Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, New Zealand is the world’s steepest residential street. The road has a gradient of 1 in 2.86 at its steepest section, a 35 percent grade.

14. More people live in Auckland (1.657 million) than in the whole of the South Island (1.08 million).

15. The filming of the Lord Of The Rings movies pumped around $200 million into the country’s economy. 

16. The New Zealand government created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, responsible for investigating methods of capitalizing on the boom in tourism to New Zealand that followed the release of the films.

17. The Powelliphanta is a giant carnivorous snail living on the South Island. These big snails eat earthworms and slugs. They can be found mostly around Nelson and the north westland.

18. The Māori name for NZ, Aotearoa, means ‘land of the long white cloud’.

Queenstown Facts about New Zealand

19. Despite the name, kiwifruits are not native to New Zealand. They are actually native to China and were originally called Gooseberries. Mary Isabel Fraser, the principal of Wanganui Girls’ College, brought the seeds to New Zealand after a visit to China.

20. Moas were flightless birds native to NZ. They are now extinct. They were about 3.6m (12 feet tall) and weighed about 230kg (510 lb).

21. New Zealand is one of the few developed countries not using electricity (indigenous or imported) from nuclear energy, which means there are no nuclear power stations in the country.

22. New Zealand is the only country with the right to put Hobbit-related images on its currency.

23. New Zealand was the last major landmass to be discovered, inhabited and colonized by humans.

24. The kea, the world’s only alpine parrot, is native to New Zealand and is known for dismantling cars. They pull windscreen wipers off cars and eat the strips of rubber from windows.

Kea New Zealand alpine parrot

25. There are three official languages in New Zealand: English, Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language.

26. Auckland’s Sky Tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 meters high (1,076 ft).

27. In 2013, there were about 650,000 New Zealand citizens living in Australia, which was about 15 percent of the population of New Zealand. 192,037 of them lived in the state of Queensland.

28. There are only two land mammals native to New Zealand, and they are both bats – the long-tailed bat and the lesser short-tailed bat. The Māori name for both species is Pekapeka.

29. The East Cape, located North of Gisborne, has the honor of witnessing the world’s first sunrise each and every day.

30. The Kakapo, the one and only flightless parrot in the world, is endemic to New Zealand.

31. More than 80,000 km2 of New Zealand is protected national parks, which is about 30% of the country.

32. With only 4.7 million residents, New Zealand is one of the world’s least populated nations.

33. New Zealand is the fourth largest producer of wool in the world with a total of 11% of the production.


34. New Zealanders most popular activity is “tramping” (walking or hiking).

35. In 1642, Abel Tasman was the first European to sight New Zealand.

36. New Zealand has two national anthems: God Save The Queen and God Defend New Zealand.

37. Taupo is home to the world’s coolest Macdonalds. Part of the restaurant is in a decommissioned DC3 plane, where you can seat and dine. 

38. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world where women had the right to vote.

39. The Māori are settlers from eastern Polynesia and arrived in New Zealand between 800 and 1300.

40. Prostitution, sex work, brothel-keeping, living off the proceeds of someone else’s prostitution, and street solicitation are legal in New Zealand.

41. Despite its name, New Zealand’s Ninety-Mile beach isn’t 90 miles. It is 88 kilometers long, which is only 55 miles.

42. Mount cook is 3,754 meters (12,316 ft) high and is New Zealand’s highest mountain. It is located on the South Island and is a popular tourist spot.

43. Mount Cook, was originally named by Māori people as “Aoraki”, which means “Cloud Piercer”.

Mount Cook

44. There are more sheep than people In New Zealand – approximately six per person.

45. The giant Weta, native to New Zealand, is the world’s heaviest insect. A Weta can grow as big as a gerbil and loves carrots. 

New Zealand is a fascinating country, and truly, one of the best countries in the world. From its incredible landscapes to amazing wildlife, Aotearoa is definitely worth knowing better. How many of these facts about New Zealand did you already know? Let me know in the comments below!

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Are you going to New Zealand? Don’t forget your travel insurance!

Travel insurance is the only thing I don’t go anywhere without. Your travel insurance covers you against travel risks such as lost or stolen luggage, trip cancellation, and most importantly, unexpected medical costs abroad. I like WorldNomads because they are backed by reputable insurers, have 24h assistance providers, and are affordable. Get a quote and read the policy details to ensure that it’s right for you. For more information, read my travel insurance page.

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