10 Interesting Facts About New Zealand That You Didn't Know

kayaking-milford-new-zealand.jpg

We do things a little differently here in New Zealand - only a small fraction of the creatures living here are human! Maybe it’s our animal instincts that make us so exotic and unique. From the alpine terrain to the glacially-fed rivers, the golden sand dunes and enchanting rainforests - New Zealand will captivate all of your senses. Apart from the raw honesty and humility of the New Zealand people, what is so different about New Zealand compared to the rest of the world? Well here's 10 interesting facts for you!

Fact 1 – The Kiwi bird 

Well firstly our namesake - the Kiwi. This little guy is one of our national treasures, and has been around for almost 70 million years. This flightless small bird which is the equivalent to the size of a domestic chicken, will lay eggs equivalent to up to 20% of their body weight - making it one of the largest in proportion to body size. If you’re lucky enough to see the Okarito Kiwi, you’ll normally find them in a small area on the West Coast. Kiwi birds however are nocturnal birds as they have pretty poor eyesight, so sighting them is rare! They use their extremely sensitive nose (their nostrils are right down on the end of their long beaks!), to sniff out any type of food. Sadly, only 68,000 remain in the wild and many sanctuaries are dedicated to help their population increase.

Kiwi bird in sanctuary

Fact 2 – Longest place name

At 85 letters "Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupo-kaiwhenuakitanatahu" is the longest place name found in any English speaking country. Roughly translating to “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”. Locals simply call it Taumata Hill! This 305 metre high hill is situated south of Hawke’s Bay on the North Island.

 

The sign with the longest place name in New Zealand!

Fact 3 – Golfers' paradise

While we’re hanging out in Hawkes Bay, you should check out the famous Cape Kidnappers Golf Course. With its quirky bunkers and greens, the rustic club house is a great place to stop by and admire the cliff top views. While Kiwis are passionate about rugby, golf is the sport played by the most kiwis. With our world class landscapes perfectly suited to golf courses, it's no wonder there are more golf courses in New Zealand per capita than anywhere else in the world! There's even a golf hole at the top of Cecil Peak in Queenstown that can only be accessed by helicopter...

Golfing in New Zealand


Fact 4 – Jet boats, a Kiwi invention

Have you ever heard of jet boats? Unlike traditional boats using an external propeller, they draw the water from behind the boat and eject it from the back of the craft. Designed by William Hamilton in the 1950s to navigate the fast and shallows rivers of New Zealand, jet boats can be used in as low as 7.5cm (3 inches) of water and turn quickly in narrow spaces like canyons. Avid watersport fans visiting New Zealand can relax, knowing that you’re never more than 128 kilometres (100 miles) from the ocean anywhere in our country. And due to the moderating effect of the ocean here, our summer and winter temperatures will differ by less than 10 degrees. From kayaking to jet boating, there’s no excuse not to enjoy the magnificence of the New Zealand waters - fresh lake water or the salty ocean! 

Kayaking on Milford Sound

Fact 5 – Milford Sound's Hector Dolphin

One of our rarest subspecies, the Hector Dolphin, can be found off the coast of New Zealand. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled, as they will only grow a maximum length of 1.5 metres. If you spot one, check out the Hector’s dorsal fin, they look a little like a Mickey Mouse ear - more curved than other dolphin species.

Hector Dolphin in New Zealand waters

Fact 6 – Takaka in Nelson

Every 24 hours, more than 21 million litres of fresh water spring from the ground through the cracks in the limestone at Waikoropupu, near Takaka - part of the Nelson Province. The spring is known to the locals as 'Pupu Springs' and is the largest cold water spring system in the Southern Hemisphere. This mineral rich town is also known for farming and saw milling.

Waikoropupu Spring near Takaka

Fact 7 – Aoraki Mount Cook

In the middle of the South Island, is the impressive Mount Cook (Aoraki) National Park - named after New Zealand's tallest mountain. At 3,754, (12,316 feet) Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in Australasia, and the national park is packed with stunning hiking trails! In 1998, Mount Cook was renamed to include 'Aoraki' a Maori word meaning 'Cloud-Piercer'. Fun fact, a group of winter athletes recently skied down Aoraki for the very first time - you can watch them on the short movie 'The Sky Piercer'. 

Mt Cook, also known as Aoraki - Cloud-Piercer


Fact 8 – Safe hiking haven

An added bonus to our incredible views, pristine lakes, and massive mountains - is the fact that we have no snakes or dangerous wild animals. We do have one poisonous spider, but don’t worry the 'Katipo' prefers to mind it's own business by tucking itself away in the sand dunes.

Safe from land-based predators!


Fact 9 – A land sculpted by volcanoes

With three harbours and dozens of secluded bays and beaches - our biggest city Auckland is also home to 50 volcanic cones. The majority of these have been extinct and dormant for thousands of years. Further south on the North Island, the volcanic central plateau is another area bursting with geothermal and volcanic activity. The Tongariro Crossing is arguably the most famous day-hike in the world, and it crosses a series of volcanoes and takes in amazing lunar-like landscapes.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing on the North Island


Fact 10 – Christmas in New Zealand

As we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, our Christmas holiday falls in the summer season, when the Pōhutukawa tree is full of crimson red blossoms. Some say that if you see the tree blossoming in early December, you’ll be in for a long summer. The tree in Maori tradition brings 'Arhoa'  (the Maori word for love) to the land and its people.

Pōhutukawa tree


So there you have it - a snippet of New Zealand "Land of the Long White Cloud”. As Kiwis, we’d love to show you around and show you around some of New Zealand's hidden gems. 

If these facts have got you intrigued about our beautiful country, and you're even thinking about coming and ticking off some of these epic activities off your bucket list - you can find out more here!

 

Related Posts

The First Timers’ Guide to Adventures in New Zealand

Here's your first timers' guide to adventures in New Zealand!

Podcast - Rick G talks about his North Island Adventure with Kit Parks

Our guest Rick was hosted by Kit Parks, on her…

Keeping Up With Our New Zealand Guides

You’ve heard us say it before, and you’ll hear us…

Conquer the Alps to Ocean Trail, an Iconic New Zealand Bike Ride

The longest continuous bike ride in New Zealand, the Alps…

5 Reasons New Zealand Winter Isn’t All About Skiing

With names of ski fields like The Remarkables, you can…

Hike the Tongariro Northern Circuit

The Tongariro Northern Circuit crosses 45 kilometres through the the…

Best things to see on the West Coast of New Zealand

The West Coast of New Zealand's South Island is a…

Hike or Bike the Paparoa Track

The Paparoa Track crosses 55km of the Paparoa National Park,…

Explore Punakaiki, home of the famous Pancake Rocks

Punakaiki is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.…

Explore Okarito Lagoon, in the Heart of New Zealand's West Coast

The view from Okarito Lagoon cannot be surpassed by any…

Discover Rakiura National Park, on Stewart Island

 Where is Stewart Island? 

Where is Stewart Island?Stewart Island is situated…

A sample of the walking you can expect on our Comfort-focused trips

For over 20 years now, we’ve taken thousands of keen…

Little Guide to Kaikoura, New Zealand

On the rugged east coast of New Zealand's South Island,…

Discover Franz Josef Glacier

 

Where is the Franz Josef Glacier?The Franz Josef Glacier is…

Podcast: Kit Parks talks about her adventures on the South Island of New Zealand (Part I)

Add the North Island if you are already doing the…

Podcast: Kit Parks talks about her adventures on the South Island of New Zealand (Part II)

 

Add the North Island if you are already doing the…

Podcast: Kit Parks talks about her adventures on the North Island of New Zealand (Part III)

 

Add the North Island if you are already doing the…

Discover the Tongariro National Park

It may be surprising to hear that the Tongariro National…

Discover Fiordland National Park - Things to See & Do

The largest of New Zealand’s fourteen national parks, Fiordland National…

Discover Arthur's Pass National Park

 

New Zealand's famous ArthurSir Arthur Dudley Dobson must have been…

Discover Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Aoraki (the Maori name for Mt Cook) is New Zealand’s…

A Family Adventure

We have trips tailored towards families in New Zealand and…

Ben Lomond

A challenging hike to beautiful vistas above Queenstown and the…

Video: Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

This national park was the training ground for one of…

Our Favourite Hikes on the West Coast of New Zealand

The West Coast of the South Island is a unique…

New Zealand Glaciers You Can Easily Hike To

Many travellers to New Zealand are familiar with our 2…

Discover Queenstown, The Adventure Capital of New Zealand

Queenstown is a little town with a big personality. Nestled on…

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise: An Experience Like no Other

Doubtful Sound, like so many places, was discovered somewhat by…

7 New Zealand Must-Sees You Can't Go Wrong With!

If you're looking for the best natural destinations in New…

Okarito Lagoon

The sleepy hamlet of Okarito is close to the sizeable…

Ultimate North Island Adventure 'Kauri' Trip

Our 'Kauri' trip is 11 days on New Zealand's volcanic…

Video: Essence of the South Island 'Tui' Trip

Our Essence of the South Island 'Tui' trip is 8…

New Zealand Adventure Tours

Want to know what travelling in New Zealand with us…

Little Guide to New Zealand Native Trees

There’s nothing quite like standing amongst the rimu trees and…

New Zealand Historic Facts You Should Know Before Your Trip

Although there is some uncertainty as to the exact timeframe,…

Gearlists and Packing Tips for Hiking in New Zealand

We all approach the task of packing for an adventure…

All You Need to Know About Sea Kayaking in Milford Sound

Kayaking is a great way to get out there and…

Hike the Rakiura Track

Although the Rakiura Track is a 29 km tramping track,…

Multi-Day Hiking in New Zealand: How to Plan the Perfect Trip for You

New Zealand has earned itself a reputation as one of…

Hike the Lake Waikaremoana Track

The Lake Waikaremoana Track, located within Te Urewera National Park,…

Hike the Kepler Track

The Kepler Track, in Fiordland National Park, is a 67…

How to get to New Zealand

New Zealand is about as far away as it's possible…

How to Plan Your New Zealand Hiking Trip: An Easy 5 Step Guide

Not many travel companies will share these unbiased truths about…

Booking your Airline Ticket to New Zealand

Once upon a time, if you wanted to fly somewhere…

Hiking Safety Tips for Tramping in New Zealand

Safety’s not as hard as you may think – New…

Hike Ben Lomond in Queenstown

Ben Lomond (45°00'24.06" south 168°36'54.76" east) is an attractive mountain…

Hike Mueller Ridge and Sealy Tarns

The Mueller Ridge hike from Mount Cook village, up past…

Best Day Hikes on New Zealand's North Island

Wherever you are in New Zealand, chances are you aren't…

Hike the Queen Charlotte Track

The Queen Charlotte Track offers a spectacular trip through the…

Hiking in Nelson Lakes National Park

Without a doubt, this is New Zealand's best kept hiking…

Best Time To Visit New Zealand

Thinking of joining us here in New Zealand for an…

Hike the Heaphy Track

 

The Heaphy Track is known for its beauty and diversity.…

Hike the Routeburn Track

The Routeburn track traverses 33km of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland…

Hike the Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a 51 kilometre (32…

Hike the Milford Track in New Zealand

The 53.5 kilometre (33.2 mile) Milford Track is one of…

5 Adventurous Facts About Milford Sound

Milford Sound is without a doubt one of New Zealand's…

Best Cycle Trails in New Zealand

New Zealand boasts some of the best cycling trails in…

Best Heli-Hike in New Zealand

Franz Josef Heli-HikeOn all of our summer South Island trips…

Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Superlatives are inadequate to describe this outstanding one-day hike on…

Best Day Hikes in New Zealand

As a small island nation, New Zealand is an absolute…

Hike the Copland Track to Welcome Flat

The Copland Track is located south of Fox Glacier on…

2019 Southern Alps Traverse with 180 Degrees Trust

The 180 Degrees Trust is based in Christchurch, New Zealand,…