34 Fun and Fascinating Facts About New Zealand
Last Updated on June 20, 2020 by Dagney
There are many interesting facts about New Zealand you should familiarise yourself with before visiting the country. I’m 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.
If you get the chance to visit, which I highly recommend you do because there are so many things to do in NZ, 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.
Here are 34 cool and interesting facts about New Zealand you probably didn’t know!
1. New Zealanders are called Kiwis
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 which 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?
2. Kiwis are the most easy-going people
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 easy going, but if not the most, Kiwis are definitely some of the most relaxed people you’ll ever meet!
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. 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. ¾’s of those people lives on the North Island and ¼ on the South Island. 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.
6. One of the most multicultural countries in the world
One of the interesting facts about 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 have a hole in their 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 which 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. 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.
8. Litter is disrespecting the land
Littering in New Zealand is highly frowned upon. 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 easy going – 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!
9. There are 3 official languages
In New Zealand, we have three official languages! The first is Maori, this 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’s 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.
11. Weird and interesting slang
In New Zealand, we have some unusual and confusing slang terms and sentences. Kiwi slang is so weird, I wrote a whole article on 56 NZ slang words. It’s been the most popular post on my website for about 2 years now! I guess a lot of people must be confused about us!
12. The delicious Hangi- a meal cooked in the ground
It’s an unknown fact about New Zealand that 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!
13. Home to the clearest lake in the world
If you want to impress your friends with fun facts about 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!
14. The famous mince pie
The famous mince pie shouldn’t be missed during your visit to New Zealand. 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
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 leader board 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!
18. Northern and southern accent
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!
19. Two big movie directors live in NZ
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. Notice how they both live in the Wairarapa, where I’m from!
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.
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 favourite facts about New Zealand!
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! What does it mean? Well the combination yeah, nah usually means no. The combination yeah, nah, yeah usually means yes.
23. A drinking holiday called Crate day
One of the silliest fun facts about New Zealand is that there is an ‘official’ day where some of the country buy a crate of beer, grab some friends, have a BBQ and drink a whole crate of beer to themselves. This is one of the many excuses Kiwis have for having a day of drinking!
24. Auckland is not the capital
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.
26. Hobbits are not real
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 you can go visit Hobbiton which was set up after the movies came out!
27. The people to sheep ratio
New Zealand has a big 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!
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!
29. Bad domestic abuse rate
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.
32. There are still active volcanos
There are still active volcanos to this day including 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 is one of the more surprising facts about New Zealand to tourists, but you don’t 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.
34. New Zealand tried to change its 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. The flag of the silver fern is used in most sports as the flag!
So, there you go there are 34 fun and interesting facts about New Zealand. Tell me below which facts about New Zealand you found the most fascinating! Do you plan to impress your friends with any of these cool New Zealand facts?
Other articles you will love:
- Travelling New Zealand: Your Ultimate Travel Guide
- Your Complete New Zealand Road Trip Guide
- 7 Travel Tips For Visiting New Zealand
- 30 of the Best Things to do In New Zealand
- 15 Best New Zealand Cities You Must Visit!
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