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My favourite facts about New Zealand

  1. Do you love ocean? Move to New Zealand. No part of the country lies more than 140 km from the sea.


  1. The Māori name for New Zealand is ‘Aotearoa’ – it means ‘land of the long white cloud.’ There is certainly a lot of beauty hidden under this cloud.

NZ five-dollar note


  1. The first man to climb Mt. Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, was from NZ. On 29 May 1953, Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. They were part of the ninth British expedition to Everest, led by John Hunt. TIME magazine named Hillary one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. You can find Sir Edmund Hillary on the NZ five-dollar note.


  1. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. For comparison the right to vote for women was established in Czechoslovakian Constitution in 1920. So far the last country to admit women’s right to vote was Saudi Arabia in 2015.


  1. Wellington is the southernmost capital city in the world – yes, I live in the capital closest to Antarctica. How cool is that?!! Apart from that, Wellington is also the windiest city in the world. Wellington sits on the Cook Strait, a passage between New Zealand’s north and south islands. The winds of the Roaring Forties, which spin uninterrupted from South America thousands of miles to the west, are funnelled into this 14-mile-wide gap, creating a “river of wind” that rocks the boats in the harbour day and night at an average of 16.6mph. The North Island’s strongest recorded gust of 154mph was measured on Hawkins Hill in 1962, just a few kilometres from the city centre.


  1. New Zealand was originally settled by Polynesians from Eastern Polynesia probably around 1280 CE, the descendants of these settlers became known as the Māori. The first European explorer to sight New Zealand was Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642. The first European who actually landed in New Zealand was Captain James Cook in 1769.


  1. The first commercial bungee jump was made by AJ Hackett in the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, back in 1988. AJ Hackett got inspired by the cultural ‘bungee’ jumps performed in Vanuatu with just tree vines tied to their feet.



  1. Place with the longest name in the world is located in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu is a hill near Porangahau. This Māori name with 40 syllables can be translated as ‘The summit where Tamatea, the man with big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.’


  1. There are no nuclear power stations in New Zealand. The electricity sector in New Zealand uses mainly renewable energy sources such as hydropower, geothermal power and increasingly wind energy. 80% of energy for electricity generation is from renewable sources, making New Zealand one of the lowest carbon dioxide emitting countries in terms of electricity generation.


  1. Despite generating 80% of its electricity from renewable sources, among the highest in OECD countries, New Zealand has the second-highest level of emissions per GDP unit in the OECD and the fifth-highest emissions per capita. The culprit is mainly the intensive dairy farming and road transport. I love you, Kiwis, but please, eat less beef and build some sensible public transport.


  1. I talked to a Czechoslovakian immigrant who came to NZ in 1950’s and asked him, why did he want to move to NZ, he said: “Many sheep and no politics – I was in!”. He was right. There are 9 sheep per each person in NZ, making it the highest ratio in the world.

Pohutukawa Tree


  1. The Pohutukawa tree is New Zealand’s Christmas tree. It blooms crimson red flowers for several weeks each December.


  1. Along with Denmark, New Zealand is the least corrupt country in the world.


  1. More people live in Auckland than in the whole South Island. The NZ population is currently 4.7 million people. On third of the population, precisely 1.377 million, lives in the biggest city Auckland. Only 1.083 million people live in South Island, that covers an area of 151,000 km2. If you prefer the company of sheep over human, move to South Island.


  1. Filming of Lord of the Rings movies has pumped an incredible amount of money in the national economy. There has been a 50% increase in arrivals to New Zealand since Lord of the Rings. About 1% of visitors say that LOTR is the only reason they came. This 1% is worth NZD $33 million a year. 6% visitors say that LOTR was the main reason they came and 80% of tourists understand that LOTR and Hobbit have been filmed in NZ. The New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, to ensure the most money could be made from the films.

    Kiwi bird


  1. The only land mammals native to NZ are bats. The rest were introduced by Maoris and Europeans. These introduced mammals (dogs, cats, possums, stoats, ferrets etc.) now endanger population of native birds. One of the highly endangered species is also New Zealand’s significant icon – Kiwi bird. Flightless Kiwis are a symbol for the uniqueness of New Zealand wildlife and the value of the natural heritage.


  1. Queen Elizabeth II is officially Queen of New Zealand, represented in the country by a Governor General. To become a New Zealand citizen, you must swear an oath of loyalty to Queen Elizabeth.


  1. New Zealand has banned all television advertising on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, ANZAC Day, and Christmas Day.


  1. New Zealand has 3 official languages: English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language.


  1. Rugby union is the unofficial national sport of New Zealand.


    The national team, the All Blacks, ranks as the top international team in the world. The sport has been known in New Zealand from 1870. The haka is a traditional Māori dance that has become closely associated with New Zealand rugby at an international level. It has been described as an ancestral war cry or ‘challenge’. There are thousands of variations of haka that are performed by various tribes and cultural groups throughout New Zealand; one of the best known is called Ka Mate. The All Blacks have performed a haka (typically Ka Mate) before matches since the late 19th century, and many smaller rugby union teams have since adopted the practice.

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