New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. Learn more about this island nation with these interesting, funny and important facts about its history, geography, culture and more.
10 New Zealand facts for Kids
#1: Santa Clause’s reindeer have a hard time delivering presents in New Zealand because it’s summertime during Christmas. A very odd thing to imagine for people living in the Northern Hemisphere.
#2: The Mickey Mouse look-alike in the animal kingdom is found only in New Zealand. The Hector Dolphin, native to the southern island has two protruding ears, giving it a funny look.
#3: Captain James Cook, the real-life captain Jack Sparrow, was a captain of the Royal Navy of Britain who discovered New Zealand for the West. The lack of fresh citrus fruits in his adventurous voyage led him to discover a cure for scurvy, the simple vitamin C.
#4: The Great Barrier Islands in northern New Zealand, extensively used pigeon posts. During the early 20th century, it had two companies that “hired” healthy pigeons to deliver crucial information. It remains an important cultural symbol of the region.
#5: The Auckland Volcanic Field is a hotspot for volcanic activity and geologists use the area to study global seismology. It has 50 volcanoes with a relatively young one of 650 years.
#6: Children as low as 16 years can apply for a driving license. Incidentally, earlier it was even lower at 15 years. With good roads and one of the highest per capita rate of car ownerships, makes New Zealand a driver-friendly country.
#7: Nestled somewhere on the foothills of the tallest mountain, Mt. Everest, Nepal, is a plague to commemorate Sir Edmund Hillary’s amazing feat. He was a New Zealander, who was the first to scale to the top of the peak. A true legend and a source of inspiration for many.
#8: The Kea is an interesting bird of New Zealand. Known as “the clown of the mountains”, it’s the world’s only alpine parrot. Famous for its intelligence, it often steals rubber from tourist’s backpacks and tears down car tires.
#9: The Prime Minster of New Zealand appointed a National Wizard, to help formulate key policies regarding magic.
#10: Niue, a dependency of New Zealand, has legal coins with images of Pikachu, a famous Pokémon of a Japanese TV series.
New Zealand’s History
#11: The early native people of New Zealand arrived from Polynesia, in canoes. For a newbie, Polynesia is a group of islands in Central and Southern Pacific. For an even greater newbie, Pacific is the name of the largest ocean on earth.
#12: The natives were so impressed and intrigued by Aotearoa (as they called New Zealand back then) that they forgot their ancestry and changed themselves to become the Maori people. They never even cared to contact the outer world and remained isolated for a staggering three centuries, during which they developed their own culture, language, arts, food habits, and music.
#13: Then the Europeans arrived. In one incident, the captain of an European ship, Boyd, whipped the son of a Maori chieftain. Matters soon escalated quickly and the Maori people ended up eating an estimated 60 Europeans. The lesson from the Boyd massacre was well learned: Never flog a Maori chief’s son.
#14: The Boyd massacre was a watershed moment between the two cultures. It was adopted in a 2010 children’s book, The Shadow of the Boyd, by kiwi author Diana Menefy. A really odd topic for a children’s book, though.
#15: Though New Zealand is far away from Europe, a number of its men fought along with the allies in both WW1 and WW2.
#16: New Zealand is very passionate about its flag. There is an intriguing history of the flag debate in NZ, spread from the era of World War 2 to the present day. The saddest thing is, after all, that, the nation presently faces an awkward situation. Its flag looks exactly like the Australian one, minus a star.
#17: The Head of State of New Zealand lives on an Island, but 18,695 km away, in London. The colonial idea of “The Queen reigns, but the government rules,” is taken rather seriously, even today.
#18: Nancy Wake, a British Special Service Executive during world war 2, was Nazi Germany’s one of the most wanted person, as she killed an SS officer, with her bare hands.
#19: A civilization is judged by how it treats its women. In this regard, New Zealand has been two steps ahead of the civilized West. In 1893, it became the first country in the world to give voting rights to its women and achieve universal suffrage before it became mainstream.
Facts about New Zealand’s: sports, volcanoes, economy, national anthem, languages and more
#20: The mystery of the twin islands comes out at night. New Zealand, literally invented the word tramping, which means overnight hiking. NZ is famous for a number of unique huts, dotted along picturesque hiking routes, which are used by…you guessed it right, trampers. That’s a word too.
#21: Auckland, an important city of New Zealand, has the highest per capita of boats among every city of the world. It is rightly called “The City of Sails.”
#22: The first Rugby World Cup had an unexpected winner, New Zealand. The country shined on the world stage in 1987, beating Australia. In 2011, the two island nations clashed again at the finals and as they say- History repeats itself. The New Zealand All Blacks, again crushed Australia to a humiliating defeat.
#23: New Zealand is also home to an entire family tree of volcanoes. It’s filled with active ones, dormant ones, pre-historic ones, calderas and many more. These natural pressure cookers have created beautiful craters, making them an exciting spot for hiking.
#24: The island nation has not been affected by the malice of industrial ones. The 2013 Global Peace Index, placed NZ at the third safest country to live in, behind Iceland and Denmark.
#25: The silver fern is the symbol of unity in the Island Nation. It can be found everywhere from its currency to its unofficial flag. The uniform of the national cricket team and the army bear the same silver fern, in a black background.
#26: The tallest structure in the whole Southern Hemisphere is The Sky Tower of Auckland.
#27: New Zealand remains a vocal supporter of nuclear non-proliferation. In 1980, it was forced out of the ANZUS, which was an alliance between Australia, New Zealand, and the USA, for not accepting nuclear arms use. Even today, it has no nuclear power plant.
#28: The most brilliant irony of it is the father of nuclear physics; Ernest Rutherford was from New Zealand. A scientist every kid knows, he has also won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his outstanding research on atomic theory.
#29: Liberty is the sweetest part of New Zealand. Homosexuality, Prostitution, Brothel Keeping are all fairly legal, to a certain degree. Even the age for consensual sex is 16 years against the global average of 18.
#30: The first Transsexual to be a Governor and a Member of Parliament, was Georgina Beyer, a native of New Zealand. Her background in prostitution didn’t dent her social image, as New Zealand is very tolerant.
#31: The country has a wild side. Kiwis associate themselves with adventurous sports like kayaking, white-water rafting, skiing, mountaineering, and rugby. It also has a world renowned team in the gentle man’s game, cricket.
#32: The funniest part of New Zealand Air Force is its logo: A kiwi, which is a flightless bird. It was better suited for land forces.
#33: New Zealand found The Black Cocks hard to swallow, no pun intended. The Black Cocks was a name innocently given to New Zealand’s national badminton team, but faced wide protests, forcing the authorities to reconsider the name.
#34: New Zealand should be more careful while naming. The famous Ninety miles beach is actually ninety kilometers in length.
#35: New Zealand has a strange tradition of having two national anthems. The first is, God Save the Queen while the other being, God Defend New Zealand. One point to NZ for patriotism.
#36: The world’s single largest name of a place is “Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu”. It can be translated into a little story about the place, which goes something like this: “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.”
#37: The Waipoua Forest of New Zealand is home to the king of trees, The Kauri trees. These are the largest and longest living trees of the plant kingdom. A healthy Kauri tree can live up to 1000 years.
#38: The economy of New Zealand puts it in a surprising spot among the top 10 nations with the highest Human Development Index. A rare feat for an island nation of its size.
#39: New Zealand has an active marine volcano, The Whakaari or The White Island, which attracts tourists and geologists in equal numbers.
#40: Who says two poles can’t meet? The food of Australia is a unique symbiosis of Maori food and European cuisine. The poles did meet but soon Maori people, who were isolated for too long, fell ill to foreign diseases like obesity, blood pressure, and heart diseases.
#41: In 1896, New Zealand saw the first public screening of a motion picture. Then in 1914, it made its first feature film. Since then it evolved through various eras of cinema.
#42: New Zealand has three official languages, one of them being New Zealand Sign Language. It can technically be used to give a “speech” in the Parliament or any official gathering.
#43: Russell Crowe, an acclaimed Hollywood actor of movies like The Insider, Les Misérables, and American Gangsters, is actually a citizen of New Zealand. His ace acting also earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
#44: Most of the early European settlers of New Zealand were actually convicts serving jail term in Britain. Her Majesty decided to relieve them off their sentence, to colonize more land and packed them off to a lifelong vacation to the Maori land. It was a win-win situation for all, except for the Maori people, who were forced to eat the invaders in a bid to scare them off.
#45: The small population of New Zealand produced three Nobel laureates all of them related to chemistry and biology. A nice choice for such an organic place.
#46: The Hatepe eruption in New Zealand was so great that the skies in China and Rome turned red. It formed a huge crater in the region and today it is known as Lake Taupo.
#47: New Zealand isolation nurtured an extremely rich biodiversity, which was a melting pot of a plethora of species. But the subsequent arrival of humans to the islands wiped out the entire population of many species. The list is long but a three most prominent species are Auckland Islands merganser, Chatham Islands penguin and New Zealand quail.
#48: If Australia has the iconic flightless bird emu, New Zealand answered back with its native flightless bird Moa. Sadly, both are extinct because of their crappy genes.
#49: The namesake of New Zealand’s people is Kiwi. A flightless, innocent bird that also happens to be almost blind. Though the size of a chicken, it’s an expert in the field of laying eggs. It holds the peerless record of laying the largest egg, relative to its body size.
#50: Kakapo, only found in New Zealand, is not only the world’s only flightless parrot but also the largest one. It natural to wonder why most birds in New Zealand are flightless. The answer is; they never evolved wings, as the islands were isolated for thousands of years. When other bird-eating species did come, along with human migration, they became easy prey and were wiped out of existence.
#51: Though the Twin Islands are a paradise for reptiles, New Zealand is a country with no snakes. Of course, there are a few in the sea but you can safely lie on land, without the fear of one. The government actually has an ongoing anti-snake policy, to safeguard its fragile ecosystem.
#52: 1/3 of the land in NZ is protected by the Government for its rich biodiversity.
#53: The Land of the Long White Cloud is the only land which originally didn’t have any mammals, except bats.
#54: A special kind of seal found in the southern island has a nice coating of fur and is called the fur seal. Another rare tourism treat of the southern coast is the Sperm Whale watching. The annual migration of these gigantic mammals takes them to the shores of New Zealand.
#55: New Zealand is the greatest place to be born as a humble sheep. While many animals died pathetically and sank to the bottom of history, the sheep didn’t sink. Currently, it has 4 million people and 40 million sheep. Hollywood, should consider making a movie called “The planet of the apes….err… sheep.”
#56: Speaking of Hollywood, the American cinema giant frequently uses New Zealand as its filming backyard. The Lord of the rings, King Kong, The chronicles of Narnia, The adventures of Tintin: The secret of the unicorn, the piano, Avatar and The Hobbit trilogy….all were filmed here yet, most of New Zealand remain unchartered.
New Zealand’s Geographical facts
#57: New Zealand also nests the world’s cleanest natural fresh water lake. Blue Lake (Tasman) is so clear that the water has a faint blue-violet natural color to it, only found in laboratory prepared distilled water.
#58: Te Waikoropupu Springs or the Pupu Springs is a spiritually significant water-body, famous for its clear and pristine water. The horizontal visibility of 63 meters makes it second only to Antarctic glaciers.
#59: Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is the nearest capital to the south-pole.
#60: The Milford Sound was named the world’s top travel destination in 2008, by Trip Advisor.
#61: Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, New Zealand is the world’s steepest street. For every 2.86 meters you travel on the road, you gain or lose 1 meter of vertical length, making the slope 19 degrees.
#62: New Zealand was the last major landmass to be populated, and most of it remain untouched by humans.
#63: New Zealand is literally the tip of an iceberg, or rather a submerged continent. The Zealandia is an entire underwater continent; the only part above water is the country of New Zealand.
#64: The Kiwi Fruit is the only thing that has a kiwi name but is not native to NZ. It is actually endemic to China.
New Zealand’s Culture facts
#65: The Taonga pūoro was and remains the traditional musical instrument of the Maori People. It’s shaped like a whale tooth and made from is made from timber, bones and pounamu (greenstone). It was used both during wars and prayers to God.
#66: The Maori people were obsessed with canoes. They soon converted the trees of New Zealand into the largest war canoes in history, the Waka.
#67: The Kapa – Haka is a traditional Maori war cry and dance that New Zealand’s official rugby team shows off during the start of any match.
#68: The Maori people have a strong sense of culture. They have their distinct music called Waiata. They also used a unique form of cooking, by the use of hot stones, called Hangi.
#69: New Zealand has a long culture of tattoos before it was cool. The Maori tattoo locally called moko was painted on the skin, with a chiseled bone and a red natural gum.
Quick facts about New Zealand
|Largest City||Auckland 36.8406° S, 174.7400° E|
|Total area||268,838 sq km|
|Population||4,438,393 (July 2015 est.)|
|Official Language||95.9% English
0.6% NZ Sign Language
|Currency||New Zealand dollar ($) (NZD)|
|Life expectancy||81.05 Years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
|Climate||temperate with sharp regional contrasts
|Terrain||predominately mountainous with large coastal plains
|Natural resources||natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone
|Birth rate||13.33 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)|
|Death rate||7.36 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
|Sex ratio||0.99 male(s)/female (2015 est.)|
|Independence||26 September 1907 (from the UK)|
|National symbol||Southern Cross constellation (four, five-pointed stars), kiwi (bird), silver fern; national colors: black, white, red (ochre)|
|National anthem||"God Defend New Zealand"|
|Industries||agriculture, forestry, fishing, logs and wood articles, manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, real estate services, tourism
|Exports||$34.33 billion (2015 est.)
dairy products, meat and edible offal, logs and wood articles, fruit, crude oil, wine
|Imports||$35.34 billion (2015 est.)
petroleum and products, mechanical machinery, vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, textiles
|GDP - per capita (PPP)||$36,200 (2015 est.)|
|Time Zone||NZST (UTC+12)
|Internet country code||.nz|
|Internet users||3.916 million
percent of population: 88.2% (July 2015 est.)
|Drives on the||Left|
- http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0931343.html (1893)