39 Fun and Fascinating Facts About New Zealand

Last Updated on September 3, 2023

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Often when people find out where I’m from, they ask me, “Well, what are some facts about New Zealand?”

And in fact, there are many interesting facts about New Zealand you should familiarise yourself with before visiting the country.

I may be a Kiwi, but as I have been living overseas for the last 7 years, I have had the chance to reflect from afar about these fun facts about New Zealand, and some of them are really weird and intriguing.

So I want to share some of my favourite weird New Zealand facts, some unique things about New Zealand you should know before you go and a few handy New Zealand culture facts.

If you get the chance to visit, which I highly recommend you do because there are so many things to do in New Zealand, make sure you check out some of the places I have mentioned below!

You can even try putting your fun New Zealand facts to the test with the locals. Or, impress your friends back home with these cool facts about New Zealand history and culture.

So, what are some interesting facts about New Zealand culture and history? Keep reading below to find out all of my favourite interesting facts of New Zealand.

These NZ fun facts don’t cover everything about New Zealand you need to know before you go, but they’ll definitely help prepare you for some things.

Here are 39 cool and interesting facts about New Zealand you probably didn’t know!

1. New Zealanders are called Kiwis

Let’s start with what is probably one of the most essential and interesting New Zealand facts: what we’re called.

A person from New Zealand is often referred to as a Kiwi and not a New Zealander. This is because the national bird and symbol of New Zealand is a Kiwi (bird).

This beautiful bird is the face of New Zealand, a native NZ bird that is endangered due to the increasing amount of pests that were introduced into the country a while back.

Kiwis are not to be confused with Kiwi (birds, or kiwi (fruits) just to make it more confusing.

This is probably one of the most well-known fun facts about NZ, but it also has to be one of the most confusing facts about New Zealand, don’t you think?

As a bonus fact, here’s one of my favourite fun facts about the kiwi bird: they have the second largest egg-to-body ratio of any other bird species. Their eggs weigh an average of 15% of their body weight.

If you want to learn more fun facts about Kiwis (the people) keep reading on.

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2. Kiwis are the most easy-going people

Maybe one of the most important New Zealand basic facts is that we are incredibly laid back and this effects the way we live.

If you want to know the definition of easy-going or relaxed, then just meet with a Kiwi (the person).

We as people are very relaxed, take everything in our stride and try not to get too worked up over things. What will be will be! New Zealanders are very welcoming and very compassionate people.

I’m sure some people would argue with this fact about New Zealand and say their country is the most easygoing, but if not the most, Kiwis are definitely some of the most relaxed people you’ll ever meet!

so if you ever want to hang out, or learn more random stuff about New Zealand, just ask us!

3. New Zealand can have 4 seasons in one day

Here’s an interesting fact about New Zealand to help you plan your trip!

While most countries have a specific weather pattern, in New Zealand we really do have 4 seasons and we can have them all in one day too.

We get the rain, we get the sunshine, we get the wind, and anything else you can think of, we probably get it. Our seasons are very recognisable, unlike most other countries around the world.

4. NZ has over 20,000 earthquakes a year

Yes, that’s right! Approximately 20,000 earthquakes were recorded in New Zealand in 2018.

While most of these go unknown, a lot of them are also felt, so this is still one of the most important facts about New Zealand to know before you go.

The reason for all these earthquakes is that New Zealand sits on tectonic plates and is part of the ‘ring of fire’ so it experiences a lot of action.

However, one of the cool things to know about New Zealand is that because of this, NZ has some of the strongest and most strict building laws in the world!

5. Lots of land, not many people

New Zealand has a small population of approximately 4.7 million people, and ¾’s of those people live on the North Island and ¼ on the South Island.

However, there’s a lot of land mass in New Zealand which means unless you live in the likes of Auckland or Wellington, then you won’t be living on top of people.

Everything is fairly spread out, which is probably why the public transport system isn’t the best.

Knowing the percentage of people living on each island is one of the interesting facts about NZ that once helped me win a pub quiz!

6. It’s one of the most multicultural countries in the world

One of the interesting facts on New Zealand culture is that it has been called one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world!

NZ is an extremely multicultural country and very welcoming to immigrants. We have more ethnicities living in the country than there are countries in the world.

The indigenous people of New Zealand are Maoris, then there are European, Indian, Chinese, Samoan and many, many more!

7. NZ has a hole in its ozone layer

If you come to NZ, you may notice that you might get sunburnt a lot easier than in your home country. That’s because NZ has a depleting ozone layer.

The ozone is a natural form of gas that sits on the upper layer of the earth and protects the earth from harmful sun rays.

In New Zealand, we have a hole in the ozone layer. This has happened due to pollution from humans, unfortunately.

This is one of the most devastating New Zealand nature facts. Luckily, the ozone does repair itself so thanks to the slow switch of different forms of energy and the like, every year it is getting smaller.

But keep this fact about New Zealand in mind if visiting and pack extra sunscreen because still you need to be extra careful in the sun. Protect yourself, as you can get burnt in only 10 minutes.

We love the sun here, but this is certainly one of the bad things about living in New Zealand sometimes.

8. Littering is disrespecting the land

Littering in New Zealand is highly frowned upon! It won’t get you any friends and it can even have serious consequences, so this is important information on New Zealand to know beforehand!

New Zealand likes to keep their image of being green and clean which is why a majority of New Zealanders have a real passion for keeping the country clean.

Most of us believe if you litter, you’re disrespecting the land. So remember this fact about New Zealand and Kiwis, because we’re pretty easygoing – until you disrespect our land!

You may have heard about the Irish family who recently left all their rubbish on the beach and the whole country turned against them. They eventually got deported!

A lot of people see this as one of the most unusual facts about New Zealand, but keeping the environment safe is very important to Kiwis.

9. There are 3 official languages

In New Zealand, we have three official languages!

The first is Maori, which is the indigenous language of New Zealand. Next is English which is what most people speak.

The third is sign language. Sign language became an official language in 2006.

This is one of my favourite facts about New Zealand culture because it really highlights how multicultural we are!

10. There are a lot of rules

I have only noticed this since living overseas for quite a while. New Zealand has a lot of rules and some very strict ones.

The people generally like to stay on the straight and narrow and are very law-abiding citizens. For example, on holidays such as Christmas and New Year, we have even stricter speeding laws.

If you’re caught speeding a mere 3km over the speed limit you will be caught and fined.

For anyone planning on driving there, this is one of those New Zealand interesting facts you won’t want to forget!

11. NZ has some weird & interesting slang

In New Zealand, we have some unusual and confusing slang terms and sentences that tend to baffle visitors. It’s weird, but I think it’s also one of the really special things about New Zealand.

Kiwi slang is so weird, I wrote a whole article on the best New Zealand slang words.

It’s been the most popular post on my website for a few years now! I guess a lot of people must be confused about us!

12. Delicious Hangi – a meal cooked in THE ground

It’s one of most unknown facts about New Zealand that the food in NZ is delicious! And one of the most delicious meals is a hangi, which is a traditional Maori meal that is cooked underground.

Usually, fish or chicken is cooked with vegetables such as carrots, kumara (sweet potato) are cooked in a pit which is put on top of hot stones and then covered with dirt to trap the heat.

The meal is cooked for about 3 or 4 hours which makes the food so beautifully soft, the meat will just fall off the bone!

If you want to know more New Zealand food facts, you can read my post about the best New Zealand food.

13. Home to the clearest lake in THE world

If you want to impress your friends with fun facts in New Zealand, tell them that NZ officially has the clearest lake in the world.

This lake is called Blue Lake or Rotomairewhenua and is in the Nelson Lake national park in the South Island. It takes a 2-day hike to reach the lake but it’s well worth it!

The lake is considered Tapu (sacred) so you’re not allowed to swim in it. If you were, it would look like you were floating on air!

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14. The famous mince pie

One of the most fun facts about New Zealand food is that we have a famous mine pie.

And this famous mince pie shouldn’t be missed during your visit to New Zealand. It will quickly become your favourite NZ meal.

A mince pie is a pastry pie (for 1 person), about the size of your hand, and it’s filled with different fillings.

Some of the most popular flavour combinations include mince and cheese, steak and cheese, and bacon and egg.

15. Gumboot throwing is a sport

Are you searching for really strange facts about New Zealand? Then this one is for you!

In the north island, in a small town called Taihape, they have a festival every year which celebrates the sport of throwing a gumboot.

If you don’t know what a gumboot is it’s wellingtons, rain boots or you may call them rubber boots. Gumboot throwing is a ‘sport’ in which the gumboot is thrown to the furthest distance.

This is probably one of the favourite weird facts about New Zealand!

16. The best rugby team in THE world

Speaking of sports, NZ has the best rugby team in the world! Don’t ever tell a kiwi otherwise, we see this as an indisputable fact about New Zealand.

But it’s official, too, as New Zealand has been at the top of the leaderboard for over 9 years now.

17. Kiwis love the sea

A big thing that I have noticed is that (most) Kiwis have a love/need to be by the sea. No matter where you live, you are usually only an hour away from the sea in New Zealand!

While this might not be one of the things unique to New Zealand alone, it is definitely something I have found to be true about every Kiwi I know.

18. Northern and Southern accents

Although NZ is so small there are a few different accents which can determine where you live. The most noticeable ones are Auckland and the southern accent.

The southern accent is more noticeable as they really roll their r’s. Birthday is Birrrrthday down in the small town of Invercargill!

Interesting facts of New Zealand, person with clapper board and marker in desert
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

19. Two big movie directors live in New Zealand

Some of the biggest movie directors are buying up land in New Zealand.

Peter Jackson who has made the Lord of the Ring trilogy lives in Masterton and has a palace equipped with hobbit houses, an artificial lake and tunnels!

James Cameron (who is the director of Titanic, Avatar & lots of more) has a house in Lake Ferry as he says he finds most of his inspiration writing there as it’s so peaceful.

You will notice that they both live in the Wairarapa, where I’m from! That’s because it’s absolutely stunning.

And, of course, Taika Waititi, director of JoJo Rabbit and Thor Ragnarok is from New Zealand!

20. Incredible Maori carvings

Maori are famous for being exceptional carvers and can make the most beautiful pieces of art!

If you get the chance to have a look at a marae (a local meeting house) you will notice, the beautiful carvings inside and out. Each carving has its own special significance and story.

Whenever people ask me what is special about New Zealand, I usually like to talk about these very cool and unique carvings.

21. NZ is home to incredible wine

New Zealand has some of the best wineries in the world, and that’s a fact! During your holiday to New Zealand, you should try and visit at least one wine region.

Some noticeable ones are Waiheke Island, Hawkes Bay, Martinborough, Nelson and Marlborough.

As a proud Kiwi, this is one of my absolute favourite facts about New Zealand!

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22. “Yeah, Nah, Yea” is a common sentence in NZ

If you want to melt your friend’s minds, one of the weirdest New Zealand fun facts is that a ‘Yea, nah, yeah’ is an actual sentence!

This goes back to NZ slang, but one of the top funny facts about New Zealand is that is an actual sentence we Kiwis use regularly.

And what does it mean?

Well the combination yeah, nah usually means no. The combination yeah, nah, yeah usually means yes.

23. There is a drinking holiday called Crate Day

One of the silliest fun facts about New Zealand is that there is an ‘official’ day that revolves around buying a crate of beer.

Essentially, some of the country buy a crate of beer, grab some friends, have a BBQ and drink a whole crate of beer to themselves.

But really, this is just one of the many excuses Kiwis use for having a day of drinking! So you would be right in thinking this is one of the more bizarre and funny things about New Zealand culture.

24. Auckland is not the capital

This won’t blow many people’s minds, but one of the crazy facts about New Zealand for some is that Auckland is NOT the capital of the country.

Many assume that Auckland is the capital as its where the main business hub is, but it’s not true!

Wellington is the small and quaint capital of New Zealand. Unfortunately, Wellington is such a small place that it’s unable to expand.

Therefore Auckland takes most of the international flights and has an ever-growing business centre.

25. There are small towns with big objects

Whilst on a New Zealand road trip you may find yourself driving through towns with large items on display. Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy.

Towns such as Taihape, Taupo, Te puke and Kaikoura (there’s lots more!) put large structures and icons to show what they are proud of!

For example, Te Puke has a giant kiwifruit as this town is famous for growing kiwifruit.

Unusual facts about New Zealand, image of hobbit house with blue door in Hobbiton
Photo by Andres Iga on Unsplash

26. Hobbits are not real – but their homes are!

If you have watched the lord of the rings you will ‘know’ that there are hobbits in New Zealand.

Sorry to disappoint you with this fact about New Zealand, but there are no hobbits in NZ!

We don’t have small people living in the mountains. Hobbits are a fictional character I’m sorry to say.

But! One of the most interesting things about New Zealand is that you CAN go visit Hobbiton which was set up after the movies came out!

27. The people to sheep ratio

One of the weird things about New Zealand is that it has a large sheep-to-person ratio.

It used to be a lot higher but as most farms have converted to dairy and not sheep this means the 1:22 (1 person to 22 sheep) is now 1:6 (1 person to 6 sheep).

That’s still incredibly high and you will notice thousands of sheep on your holiday in New Zealand!

The sheep-to-person ratio is one of my favourite NZ facts as it is something so undeniably uniquely Kiwi.

28. 600 Islands

The country has around 600 islands. Most Kiwis don’t even know this fact about New Zealand! The main ones are of course the North Island and South Island.

There’s also Waiheke island, Stewart Island and Chatham Island. Most of the islands are incredibly small, in the middle of a lake or even sunken!

All these islands are one of many New Zealand unique features that make this country’s ecosystem so fascinating and diverse.

29. Bad domestic abuse rate

Most of these facts are positive, but there are some bad things about New Zealand.

Unfortunately, probably the most horrifying fact about New Zealand is that it has one of the highest domestic abuse rates in the world.

30. Incredible tourism growth

New Zealand has had and continues to experience huge growth in tourism over the last 5 years.

Much of the country cannot handle having so many people as the infrastructure is just not set up for that.

The government have said recently though that they aim to improve infrastructure for the rapid growth in tourism.

31. Home to the Haka

One of my favourite cool things about New Zealand is the haka, which is a Maori war dance. It was used to ward off the opposition in war and to scare them.

You may see that the All Blacks (NZ rugby team) do a haka before every rugby game. This is always one of the best moments!

There are different hakas for different situations, though. They are also performed at weddings, funerals, home-comings and tributes.

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32. There are still active volcanoes

One of the best unique facts about New Zealand is that there are still active volcanos to this day!

The most well-known is Mt Ruapehu, which is set in the middle of the north island and is a popular hiking and skiing spot.

Next, to Ruapehu are two other volcanos – Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the most beautiful hikes you can do in New Zealand – I highly recommend it!

This might seem like one of the more creepy facts about New Zealand to tourists, but in reality, you don’t really need to be worried!

33. There are two names for the country

Another fun fact about New Zealand many don’t know is that it’s not just called that! The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa and means the land of the long white cloud.

The name New Zealand was given after the European settlers came to NZ in 1645.

This is one of the most confusing bits of trivia about New Zealand, but it’s useful to know both names when you visit as they are used interchangeably by most Kiwis.

34. New Zealand tried to change its flag

Perhaps one of the most random facts about New Zealand is that the country has actually tried to change its official flag.

In 2015 New Zealand tried to change their flag but with most of the country not on board, the flag never got changed.

The current flag is the southern cross (stars) as well as the union jack as New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth. The Queen of England is also our Queen.

Many say the union jack doesn’t represent our country and one of the main flags that were up for grabs was the silver fern, which is a native New Zealand plant.

So one of the best New Zealand trivia facts is that the flag of the silver fern is used in most sports as the flag!

35. There is only 1 native land mammal

I think that one of the most intresting facts about New Zealand is that there is only one native land animal in the country.

And that animal is bats!  In fact, there are two species of bats that are native to New Zealand.

The two native species of bat are the long-tailed bat, also called Pekapeka, and the lesser short-tailed bat.

So if you want to impress people with what’s special about New Zealand animals, pull out this fun fact about New Zealand.

36. Zero snakes!

One thing you might be surprised to learn about New Zealand is that we don’t have any snakes. In fact, we’re one of the only snake-free countries in the world.

Unlike many other snake-free countries, this is because snakes just never evolved in New Zealand rather than the terrain being inhospitable for them like in Antarctica or Alaska.

But given our Aussie neighbour’s reputation for large and terrifying animals, many tourists consider this one of the great things about New Zealand.

37. 5% humans, 95% animals

Another one of the most unique New Zealand environment facts is the overall human to animal ratio.

I already mentioned the somewhat ridiculous human to sheep ratio, but did you know that only 5% of the NZ population is human!

That’s right, one of the unique features of New Zealand is that 95% of the country’s population is actually animals.

For anyone who loves animals, this is one of the best things about New Zealand.

38. Women’s rights are important

As a Kiwi woman, one of the New Zealand history facts I’m most proud of is that  in 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote!

That same year, the US state of Colorado also granted women the right to vote. However, New Zealand was the first entire country to allow this right to women.

Unfortunately, women were not allowed to stand for election in New Zealand until 1919, nearly 25 years after the right was given in Australia.

39. Land of the Wizards & Jedi

It’s safe to say that New Zealand people like to do things a little differently. So when I first learned the following information about New Zealand, I honestly wasn’t surprised.

In 1990, New Zealand was the first modern country to appoint an Official National Wizard. He is known officially as The Wizard of New Zealand, or just The Wizard.

The Wizard was appointed by then Prime Minister, Mike Moore, who was an old friend.

Over a decade later in 2001, the NZ census showed that over 53,000 people listed their religion as “Jedi.” This is the highest per capita reporting of the Jedi religion in the world.

However, during the next census five years later, the number had dropped to around 20,000, and continued to drop in the next census.

But when I tell people all about New Zealand, I always like to throw in that we’re a people who embrace the strange.

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So, there you go there are 39 fun and interesting facts about New Zealand culture and history. Tell me below which amazing facts about New Zealand you found the most fascinating! Do you plan to impress your friends with any of these cool New Zealand facts?

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ Why are people from New Zealand called Kiwis?

It’s true, people from New Zealand are called Kiwis more often than we’re called New Zealanders. It is a nickname that comes from the fact that the country’s national bird is the kiwi bird and the national fruit is the kiwifruit.

✅ What was New Zealand first called?

Today New Zealand has two official names: New Zealand and Aotearoa. Aotearoa is the original Maori name and means “land of the long white cloud.” New Zealand is the name given by European settlers in the 17th century.

✅ What is the most popular sport in New Zealand?

Hands down, rugby union. We love it! This is one of the most important fun facts of New Zealand – we take rugby very seriously.

✅ What is unique about New Zealand?

Where to start? Our slang is bizarre and unique, our sheep-to-human ratio is certainly unusual and we have a village of hobbit homes! But other unique things about New Zealand include having three official languages and two official country names. Our national bird is also very special.

✅ What is special about New Zealand’s ozone layer?

Not sure if special is the right word, but there is a hole in our ozone layer as a result of pollution! This means that the sun’s rays are extra strong in New Zealand, so be careful when you’re outside in the sun.

✅ What is New Zealand known for?

New Zealand is known for the kiwi bird, a flightless animal after which we are named (we’re often called Kiwis), as well as beautiful and diverse landscapes, and weird and bizarre slang. But New Zealand is probably most well known for being “Middle Earth” as it is where most of the Lord of the Rings was filmed and you can still visit hobbit homes in Hobbiton.

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The Comments

  • Anita Hendrieka
    June 5, 2019

    From October the 1st 🙂

  • Maria
    June 27, 2020

    HOLY CRAP! 20,000 earth quakes a year?! That is absolutely insane. I can’t imagine growing up in that. I definitely have gotten snowbound and icebound though.
    -Maria, maptrekking.com