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The 21 Amazing Facts of New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most wonderful places to visit. If you haven’t been there, try to plan out a holiday and see for yourself what makes this place so awesome and amazing. Here are 21 astounding facts that make this place a unique with so much to learn and grow from its rich culture and tradition.

1. New Zealand was first discovered by Europeans in 1642 when Dutch sailor Abel Tasman arrived. He left New Zealand after several of his crew were killed by Maoris, and it was not until 1769 that English Captain James Cook arrived and mapped the land.

2. New Zealand was the first major nation to have universal suffrage. In 1893 it became legal for all male and female citizens of New Zealand to vote.

3. Until 1901 New Zealand was governed as a part of the territory of New South Wales. When Australia federated in 1901, New Zealand was offered a place as one of their states. New Zealand refused and is now its own country with no ties (other than economic and commonwealth) to Australia.

4. Queen Elizabeth II is officially Queen of New Zealand. She is represented in New Zealand by a Governor General, who ratifies all laws put before him or her by the elected parliament of New Zealand.

5. In New Zealand a kiwi is not a fruit but a native flightless bird. It has become a slang term for a New Zealander. Kiwis call the fruit “kiwifruit” they are also known as Chinese Gooseberries.

Moa- The Extinct Bird

Moa-The Extinct Bird

6. Another native bird of New Zealand (the Moa) was one of the largest birds in history – standing up to 3.6m (12 foot) tall and weighing 300kg. Unfortunately they were hunted to extinction by the Maoris by the end of the 1500s.

7. When the Europeans arrived in New Zealand, it was already inhabited by the Maori people – Eastern polynesian settlers who arrived sometime between 800 and 1300. Oral tradition says that they came from a place named Hawaiki; its location is unknown. The very strong linguistic connection to Cook Island Maori might suggest that they originated from that region of the Pacific.

8. Another group of settlers (who most likely came from the same group as the original Maoris) settled on the Chatham Islands. They were called the Morioris and they were pacifists. In 1835, groups of Maoris moved to the Chatham islands and wiped out nearly all of the Morioris – leaving only 100 by 1862. The last full-blooded Moriori (Tommy Solomon) died in 1933.

9. New Zealand was the first country to have its three top positions of power held simultaneously by women: The Prime Minister (Helen Clark), the Governor General (Dame Silvia Cartwright), and the Chief Justice (Sian Elias).

10. New Zealand is one of only three countries that have two official (and of equal standing) national Anthems. The first is God Save the Queen (the English National Anthem) and the other is God Defend New Zealand. The other two countries with two anthems are Denmark and Canada which both have a Royal Anthem and a State anthem.

Early Naval Vessels

Early Naval Vessels

11. Wellington, the Capital City of New Zealand is the southernmost capital city in the world.

12. New Zealand was forced out of the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) alliance in the 1980s when it outlawed nuclear arms and power. To this day, there are no nuclear power stations in New Zealand, and a change of law would be required before one could be built. New Zealand retains its military ties with the United Kingdom.

13. New Zealand has one of the most liberal media arenas in the world. Distinctly left wing versus right wing press is not as obvious there as in other nations.

14. New Zealand is a plastic nation – almost all personal financial transactions are made with a card – credit or otherwise. Most shops offer EFTPOS and cash is seen less and less. The majority of taxis now allow you to pay without cash through this system.

15. New Zealand has a strong hold on the international trade in sheep meat. There are presently around 9 sheep to every 1 human in New Zealand. (NZ population 4.5 million)

5 Dollar with Sir Edmund Hillary

NZD banknote 5 new Zealand Dollars Sir Edmund Hillary on Mount Everest

16. Over 1/3 of New Zealand is made up of protected parkland and marine reserves.

17. New Zealand is a fairly liberal nation with homosexual marriage (Civil Union) being legal and prostitution, soliciting, and brothel keeping being legal. The driving age is 15, the consensual sex age is 16, and the drinking age is 18 (even minors accompanied by adults are allowed alcohol in restaurants).

18. New Zealand was the last major landmass to be populated (with the exception of the Polar Regions).

19. Lake Taupo which is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations was the source of the largest known eruption in the world in the last 70 thousand years. It had a Volcanic Explosively Index of 8. It released over 530 cubit kilometres of magma.

20. New Zealander and Nobel Prize Winner, Ernest Rutherford is known as the father of nuclear physics for his orbital theory of the atom.

21. Sir Edmund Hillary – the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest was a New Zealander born in Auckland and can be seen on the New Zealand $5 bill.

Any other known facts do share!