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

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 to enchanting rainforests, New Zealand will captivate all your senses. Apart from the honest 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 – Native Birds of New Zealand: 

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 little bird, who is equivalent to the size of a domestic chicken, will lay eggs larger than their actual size. If you’re lucky enough to see the Okarito Kiwi, you’ll normally find them in a small area on the West Coast. Unfortunately kiwi birds have pretty poor eyesight, luckily that means they have an extremely sensitive nose (their nostrils are right down on the end of their long beaks!), that will sniff out any type of food. The kea, unlike the kiwi which is nocturnal and shy, is very inquisitive, and will be the first on the scene at a photo stop, in the right parts of the South Island, to see what's going on and see what food they can scavange.

native bird new zealand

A cheeky Kea by the roadside near Milford Sound


Fact 2 – Maori Place Name: 

At 85 letters, Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupo-kaiwhenuakitanatahu, is the longest place name found in any English speaking country. Roughly translating too, “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”. This 305 metre high hill, is situated in the southern Hawke’s Bay.

longest place name new zealand

The sign with the longest place name in New Zealand! (image courtesy of stuff.co.nz)


Fact 3 – The Rugged Landscape of New Zealand:

While we’re hanging out in the 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 us Kiwis are passionate about rugby, golf is the sport played by the most kiwis sport. 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!


Fact 4 – Kayaking and Jet Boating:

Avid watersports 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, whether that's salt water or fresh! Our lakes are pretty spectacular and perfect for watersports too!

kayaking milford new zealand

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.


Fact 6 – Takaka in Nelson:

More than 21 million litres of fresh water every 24 hours 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 sawmilling.

Waikoropupu spring new zealand

Waikoropupu Spring near Takaka (image courtesy of doc.govt.nz)


Fact 7 – Aoraki Mount Cook:

In the middle of the South Island is the impressive Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, named for New Zealand's tallest mountain. At 3,754, (12,316 feet) Aoraki/Mt Cook is the tallest mountain in Australasia, and the national park is packed with great hiking trails. In 1998, Mount Cook was renamed to inlcude 'Aoraki' a Maori word meaning 'cloud-piercer'.

aoraki mount cook new zealand

Aoraki/Mt Cook, or 'Cloud-piercer', New Zealand's tallest mountain


Fact 8 – Hiking in New Zealand:

Another reason to come hiking in New Zealand, to go alongside 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 will mind its own business by keeping tucked away in the sand dunes.

hiking new zealand

Hiking in New Zealand is pretty awesome, and safe from land-based predators!


Fact 9 – Volcanos in New Zealand:

With its three harbours, and dozens of secluded bays and beaches, our biggest city, Auckland, is also home to 50 volcanic cones. Most of these have been extinct and dormant for thousands of years. Further south, on the North Island, the volcanic central plateau is another area of 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 new zealand

Tongariro Alpine Crossing on the North Island


Fact 10 – Christmas in New Zealand:

As we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, our Christmases fall 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 aroha, love, to the land and its people. So there you have it, a snippet of New Zealand. The place where over 40 million sheep reside, the beauty that we call, “The Land of the Long White Cloud”. As Kiwis, we’d love to show you around and take you to these special spots that we call home.


Related Trips:

  • Rimu Ultimate South Island Adventure

    • 14 Days
    • South Island
    • From US$5499 + tax

    4.52 out of 5 (from 4879 reviews)

    Rimu

    Nat Geo Logo 2015This is our signature adventure and a great, outdoorsy way to see New Zealand. We’ve been fine-tuning this perennial favourite since 1996 and it’s simply an awesome trip. You’ll explore the most beautiful, famous and little-known places in the South Island – up close and personal – with legendary hospitality and our unsurpassed attention to detail. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).

    Activity level: The ‘Rimu’ is one of our more adventurous trips, but has options to suit a wide range of ages and outdoor experience. Typically, hikes on the ‘Rimu’ trip range between two and five hours to complete, with longer hikes available on the multi-day option. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace and shorter one to three hour hikes, we recommend checking out our ‘Kiwi’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.


Why travel with Active Adventures?

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Diverse Experiences

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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