10 Interesting Facts about New Zealand
Before making a trip to New Zealand, it can be fun to know a few facts. Here are 10 things you maybe didn’t know.
1. The Kiwi New Zealand’s Native Bird
Nocturnal, flightless and shy – the kiwi is New Zealand’s iconic bird. It is the only bird with nostrils at the end of its long beak, enabling them to sniff out worms and grubs without seeing them! Your best chance of seeing a kiwi is by either visiting a kiwi house or joining a night time tour. Tourists often confuse the weka, another brown flightless bird, with the kiwi but the weka is not nocturnal and often not particularly shy.
2. First To Introduce The Commercial Bungee Jump
The world’s first commercial bungee jump took place in Queenstown in 1988 and was operated by AJ Hackett who later added jumps around Europe. The first bungee jump in Queenstown was a 43 metre leap from Kawarau Bridge. His inspiration came from Vanuatu where people tied tree vines around their feet. My inspiration to bungee from the Kawarau Bridge was purely peer pressure, but is definitely a memory I will carry for ever and don’t regret one little bit!
3. Aoraki Mount Cook
Mount Cook, renamed Aoraki Mount Cook in 1988 is New Zealand’s highest mountain. Prior to 1991 it was registered as 3764m high, but on 14 December that year it lost 10 m when its summit fell off in a massive rock avalanche when over 10 million cubic metres of rock fell from the mountain. It was now 3754m. 13 years later, it “shrank” by another 30m, but this time there was no avalanche – but analysis of high accuracy GPS data obtained during an Otago University climbing expedition. It is now officially 3724m, but still New Zealand’s highest, a couple of hundred metres higher than second placed, Mount Tasman.
4. Can’t escape the ocean
No part of New Zealand is more than 128km from the sea, so there is NO excuse for you not to get out on the water at some (or many!) points during your holiday!
5. Longest name in New Zealand
Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupo-kaiwhenuakitanatahu is the name of a hill in the southern Hawke’s Bay. This 85 letter name roughly means “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as the land-eater, played his nose flute to his loved ones”. Not only is it the longest place name in New Zealand, but also in the world! Chocolate fish to anyone who can recite it!
6. No dangerous wild animals
Hike in peace – we have no snakes and no wild animals in our bush!
7. New Zealand – gloriously unpopulated!
Land mass slightly bigger than the UK; population only 4.7 million – you do the maths – you won’t get caught up in too many traffic jams on your trip!
8. Two National Anthems
New Zealand is one of the three countries in the world to have 2 national anthems. God Save The Queen and God Defend New Zealand. Denmark and Canada are the other two countries with a Royal Anthem and a State Anthem. God Defend New Zealand is sung first in Maori and then in English.
9. Clearest Water
Nelson’s Blue Lake is the clearest lake in the world with a visibility of up to 80 metres.
10. Lord Of The Rings
The production and filming of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy brought in many many millions of dollars for the New Zealand economy. The New Zealand government appointed a Minister of Lord of the Rings to ensure its success.