Every local or tourist in New Zealand will find here cool cities, hidden spots, wonderful wildlife, strong art scenes and more. However, there are simple things you might not know about this amazing country. New Zealand is nothing short of mother nature at its best. Here are some facts about this place:
1. Kiwi and MaoriMāori is the indigenous people of New Zealand. They came here more than 1000 years ago from their mythical Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki. Māori makes up 14% of the population and they have their own history, language, culture and traditions as an integral part of Kiwi life.
New Zealanders refer to themselves as Kiwis, which probably dates back to World War I when New Zealand soldiers acquired the nickname. It derives from the kiwi, a native flightless bird, which is a national symbol of the country. This bird who cannot fly, has loose, hair-like feathers, strong legs and no tail, and is indigenous to New Zealand.
2. The land of the long white cloud
Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand. Initially, this was used by indigenous people in reference to only the North Island but, since the late 19th century, the word has come to refer to the nation as a whole, including the South Island. The common translation for Aotearoa is "the land of the long white cloud".
3. Two official national anthemsNew Zealand is one of only three countries in the world - the others being Denmark and Canada - who has two official national anthems of equal status. It's about "God Save the Queen" (Queen Elizabeth II is officially Queen of this country) and "God Defend New Zealand". First of them was adopted in 1940 as the national song and in 1977 as the co-national anthem, and is normally played only when a member of the royal family is present. The other one is more commonly used on occasions when the national identity of New Zealand is the focus, such as sports events, where it is sung with English and Māori verses. Still, there are also a few occasions both anthems may be used.
4. Just 5% of the population is humanNew Zealand is one of the world’s least populated nations with only 4.8 million residents. Of New Zealand’s entire living population, only 5% are human. The rest are animals, making it the highest animal to humans’ ratio in the world. This country is probably the best place to see some wildlife. However, in New Zealand, as opposed to Australia, humans have pretty much no natural enemies. Also, New Zealand has seven times as many sheep and three times as many cows as people.
5. One of the longest coastlines in the worldEven it's hard to believe, this small country has the 10th longest coastline in the world, with a length of 15,134 km (9,403 miles).
The first place is for Canada which is the country with the largest water area in the world, and the second largest country in the world. Then we find Indonesia, Greenland, Russia, Philippines, Japan, Australia, Norway and the United States. Well, New Zealand is perhaps the smallest country in the list, rated 75 in the world by area. Still, for such a small looking country it has a large coastline.
6. The tallest freestanding structure in the Southern HemisphereThe 328m (1076 feet) Sky Tower is the pride and joy of the Auckland skyline. Living up to its name, the tower dwarfs all surrounding buildings by comparison. Measured from ground level to the top of the mast, it is the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere and the 25th tallest tower in the world. It was first opened on March 3, 1997, and due to its height and unique design, it has become an iconic landmark in Auckland's skyline.
7. 30% of the country is a forestNew Zealand is an island country located in the south-western Pacific Ocean, near the centre of the water hemisphere. Even if 30 per cent of the country is a forest, New Zealand promotes a viable, stable and sustainable commercial forestry industry of both native and exotic timber species. Also, New Zealand protects, maintains and try to expand the green area. There is a tree in New Zealand - the kauri tree - which takes about 200 years to mature. The largest kauri tree in the world, Tāne Mahuta (Lord of the Forest), is located in the Waipoua Forest and has a circumference of over 43 feet (13 m) and an overall height of 169 feet (51.5 m). It is also reported to be about 2.100 years old.
8. First sunrise in the worldSituated on 178° latitude, Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun each morning. North of Gisborne, around the coast to Opotiki and inland to Te Urewera National Park, The East Cape has the honour of witnessing the world’s first sunrise each and every day. That's because it is 496.3 kilometres away from the International Date Line. This fortunate accident of geography was made much of on December 31, 1999, when the city led off worldwide television coverage welcoming in the new millennium. Besides that, if you have a strong interest in Maori culture - and you love food, wine and surf beaches - Gisborne is a city you won't want to miss. It has the unofficial reputation as ‘Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand’. Kaiti Beach from this city is the site of Captain Cook’s first landing in New Zealand (9 October 1769).
9. The world’s steepest streetAccording to the Guinness Book of Records, the steepest residential street in the world is in New Zealand. More precisely it can be found in Dunedin city, South Island. Baldwin Street is the steepest street ever. At its steepest point, the slope is 19° or 35%. That means the street has a gradient of 1m in 2.86m, or simply: you walk 2.86m horizontally and climb 1m vertically. In the ten minutes, it takes to climb you can test out your thigh power, and your vertigo limits.
10. Snowboarding on an active volcanoMount Ruapehu is an active stratovolcano at the southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand. The North Island's major ski resorts and only glaciers are on its slopes. It is the largest active volcano in the country and the highest point on the North Island, with three major peaks: Tahurangi (2,797 m), Te Heuheu (2,755 m) and Paretetaitonga (2,751 m). Mt Ruapehu is a great place to ski when it’s not erupting. The last time the mountain erupted was in 2007, and some ski lodges had to be evacuated.
11. A country without snakesNew Zealand is one of several large islands around the globe where there have never been native snake populations. The others are Antarctica, Iceland, Ireland and Newfoundland. Its isolated position makes New Zealand unique in the world for its lack of many species, including snakes. Here’s a really good reason to visit the country and enjoy its adorable beaches. Since snakes have neither evolved nor been deposited in New Zealand, their appearance would be a threat to other local wildlife, and so they are vigorously repelled.
12. Most golf courses in the worldEven if Rugby is the most popular spectator sport in New Zealand, golf is the most popular participation sport, with more golf courses in New Zealand per capita of population than any other country in the world. This country won the first ever Rugby World Cup, held in 1987. Still, it has more than 400 golf courses, both public and private. New Zealand is home to a stunning array of golf courses set in incredible locations. Actually, with dramatic scenery, greenery, long stretches of coast and soaring mountains, the entire country is a natural playground. Golfing is one of the most popular sports to experience the landscapes, and a golf holiday in New Zealand is guaranteed to impress. Almost all golf courses in New Zealand follow the traditional 18-hole, par 72 courses.
There are much more facts about New Zealand that will blow your mind. Its position, culture, etymology, history and environment are making New Zealand one of the most interesting places in the world. That’s why is a fascinating and perfect place for tourism. Even if many consider that if they know something about kiwi birds or Maori culture, means they have knowledge of the whole country, New Zealand is always surprising. For this reason, I recommend you to inform yourself carefully about taking a trip here. This way you will be sure that you will not miss some of the most special places or things around the world.
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