Did you know . . . New Zealand may be a small country, but it is fascinating. It’s here that you will find the world’s smallest penguin, heaviest insect, and even the world’s longest place name. That’s just the beginning – below you can find over 30 interesting facts about New Zealand.
Aside from being one of the most beautiful countries in the world, New Zealand is diverse and ever-changing. Where else can you find surf beaches, calm waters, glaciers, geysers, rain forests, plains, mountains, ski fields, and bubbling mud, all in one small country?
There is also a plethora of unique and endangered wildlife, from tuatara to kiwi birds. New Zealand has it all. Or does it? There are plenty of things it doesn’t have, like high governmental corruption or snakes. Read on and see if we can surprise you with some of these fun facts about New Zealand, our home and favourite country in the world.
Fun facts about New Zealand
Did you know . . .
- Queen Elizabeth II is New Zealand’s Head of State. As queen of the UK, she is the queen of 15 countries (including NZ) that were once part of the British Empire.
- New Zealand is currently tied with Denmark as the least corrupt country in the world.
- Wellington is the world’s southernmost capital city.
- The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is the current holder of the America’s Cup, the world’s oldest and most prestigious sporting trophy. New Zealand is currently hosting the next regatta, with the finals in March 2021.
- Aotearoa is the Māori name for New Zealand, translating to “The Land of the Long White Cloud.”
- There are no land snakes in New Zealand, not even in our zoos or reptile parks.
- Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 metres, making it just taller than Paris’ Eiffel Tower which stands at 324 metres.
- No matter where you are in New Zealand, you are not more than 119.44 km (74.22 miles) from the ocean. In fact, the furthest inland point is about 8km northeast from the town of Cromwell on the South Island.
- Here’s an interesting fact about New Zealand that surprised me, as New Zealand and Australia are separate countries. However, the Australian constitution lists New Zealand as a state of Australia. As a result, if NZ chooses to, it can join the Australian Confederation.
Check out New Zealand
New Zealand trivia and firsts
- New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote.
- NZ is the first country in the world to see each new day. It is spotted first at Mount Hikurangi in the East Cape, only a few seconds before it breaks the horizon in Gisborne.
- Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland is home to the world’s first acrylic tunnels, allowing visitors to pass through while enjoying the sea life around them.
Interesting facts about NZ animals
- Kākāpō is the world’s largest flightless parrot. Once living throughout the country, they are now critically endangered and found mostly on three protected offshore islands.
- Wētāpunga, the giant weta, is the world’s heaviest adult insect and is found on Little Barrier Island.
- Kea is the world’s only alpine parrot. A cheeky bird, they are well known for biting the rubber mouldings on your car.
- Hoiho (Yellow-eyed penguin) is considered the world’s rarest penguin. They live on the south-east coast of the South Island, Stewart Island, and its outliers.
- Hector’s dolphins are the world’s smallest dolphin breed. You can swim with them in Akaroa near Christchurch.
- Bats are New Zealand’s only native land mammals.
- Little Blues (kororā) are the world’s smallest penguin.
- The world’s largest mainland gannet colony is in Hawkes Bay at Cape Kidnappers.
Interesting facts about New Zealand destinations
- Cathedral Caves in the Catlins is the world’s largest sea cave by length. It is 1.54km long. It’s only accessible from October to May, and even then, only during the 1 ½ hours before or 1 hour after low tide.
- New Zealand is home to the world’s longest place name. It’s a hill near Porangahau in the Hawkes Bay region. We added about an hour to our drive from Wellington to Napier just to see the sign. You can learn more about it here.
- Baldwin Street in Dunedin is the world’s steepest residential street. From 2001 to 2017, the annual jaffas race rolled 1000s of chocolate-coated lollies down the street. You can watch a video of the jaffas race from 2014 here.
- Waimangu is considered the world’s youngest geothermal system. It’s a fascinating destination located just south of Rotorua. It’s also home to Frying Pan Lake, currently the world’s largest hot spring.
- Blue Lake in Nelson (South Island) holds the world’s clearest water, with visibility down to 80 metres deep.
- At Karangahake Gorge, we saw the remains of the Crown Goldmining Company’s cyanide treatment plant. In 1889, it was the world’s first commercial user of potassium cyanide for extracting gold from the crushed ore.
Thought of as an adventure capital, here are more fun facts about New Zealand
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- The world’s first permanent commercial bungy jump site is off the Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown. It opened in 1988 by A J Hackett, a name well known today for extreme sport in NZ.
- Wanaka is home to the world’s highest waterfall cable climb up 350 metres of vertical rungs, crossing multiple spectacular pools and heart-pumping suspension bridges. Finally, the climb concludes at the base of a stunning 60m waterfall.
- Skyline Luge in Rotorua is the world’s first gravity-fueled three-wheeled luge ride.
More cool things about New Zealand
|Would you believe New Zealand is home to the world’s coolest McDonald’s? Okay, I will admit, this isn’t an official record, but tell me if you know of a more unique McDonald’s than this one outside of Taupo.|
|Another personal opinion. New Zealand is home to the world’s best and most creative ice creams. Taking it to a work of art, Giapo is a must-visit destination in Auckland. And if fabulous isn’t enough to get you there, Giapo is 100% gluten-free.|
|Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral is the world’s only example of a Pacific-gothic revival church. Plus, the acoustics are incredible. If you can visit during a performance or even a choral practice, I recommend it.|
|Think about this one for a while. . . The flightless kiwi bird is the logo for New Zealand’s airforce.|
Image: Aotearoa – RNZAF B-757.
Save on your NZ trip with these resources
We usually start with aggregator companies as they do the work for us by providing a list of options, prices, and reviews. However, we also added a few personal NZ favourites:
- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
- Hotels: we use Booking.com as they consistently return the best rates and their reviews are from actual guests. However, for self-contained lodging in New Zealand, we use Bookabach.
- Cars and Campervans: we use RentalCars to find the best deals and dealer ratings. Use Jucy for small campervans.
- Activity discounts: we always check Bookme.com for discounts of up to 70% on selected tours, activities, restaurants and more.
- Travel Insurance: we start at InsureMyTrip as they are the best option to compare plans and find the right coverage for you.
Before you book the rest of your trip: Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.
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How many of these interesting facts about New Zealand are new to you?
For more on New Zealand, start here: New Zealand Road Trips: Itineraries for North or South Island Adventures, or you might like …
Well Rhonda, days have passed and this crazy world hasn’t changed a bit. I want to move to New Zealand with these beautiful places. The Shark Tunnel looks so cool. Well, I could say a lot more but I better keep my mouth shut without getting into trouble. Keep safe my friend.
Rob + Ann
Very cool facts! We had the privilege of watching the NZ Squad in New York a few years ago, though we were rooting for Team USA. We enjoy yacht racing, and can’t wait for a chance to bring the cup home! 😉 The World’s Coolest McDonald’s is definitely a claim to fame in our book. We have one locally that is built as a giant Happy Meal box! Maybe not as cool as a plane, but darn close! Fun post guys – we really enjoyed it!
Some interesting facts indeed! It’s the first time I heard that Australia listed New Zealand as their state and the world’s first acrylic tunnel was started here. I must admit that’s the coolest McD ever. But, do they get a lot of customers daily?
This post is making me want to visit New Zealand so much! I was fascinated by the animal facts, including that there are no snakes on the islands at all. I’m also so intrigued by the giant wētā, even though it definitely looks a little frightening! There are so many gorgeous landscapes, and I will definitely keep an eye out for wildlife when I visit. Hopefully borders can reopen safely ASAP!
So cool to know about all of these facts about New Zealand. It is on my bucket list and would love to visit there someday! Love this blog info.
Buon Natale”, Merry Christmas Rhonda & your family. I hope that 2021 will be much better.
Linda (LD Holland)
Since New Zealand is definitely on our travel wish list, it was interesting to read this trivia. Hubby will memorize it all for sure! So I will hear it again. Always good to visit countries considered to be low on the corruption scale. And to not have to worry about land snakes! I could certainly live in a country where the ocean is so close at all points in the country. And see some new varieties of penguins. One day we will see this all for ourselves.
Lots of interesting facts here. The most bizarre to me was the kiwi being used as the logo fo NZ airforce!
This is an awesome and interesting list! Having lived in NZ for a year (and hoping to return permanently in the future!) I did know some of these but there were a lot we didn’t. It’s always fun finding out more about somewhere you love as much as we love NZ! Shout out the Kea, those guys are so funny and cheeky!
Not sure I’d like to see a giant weta but would definitely like to see the penguins! Your posts about New Zealand have really piqued my interest. Hopefully one day I’ll get to see it for myself.
I would so love to visit New Zealand. Your weekly posts always fascinate me. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!
Two thumbs up on this very interesting post. I like learning about other places. I hope that one day I can visit as well.
You live in such a beautiful and fascinating country.
I didn’t know all that you share with us about New Zealand. One day I hope to travel there. This will be helpful. Thank you and have a Merry Christmas!
I *adore* learning random facts, and all this New Zealand trivia is right up my alley! That’s so interesting that NZ doesn’t have any snakes and that you’re never more than 8km from the ocean. That sounds like my kind of place!
This was fun to read, Rhonda! I found out some interesting things about New Zealand, like the fact that you have no land snakes there, not even in zoos. Is it because they can’t live there, or because they have been exterminated? Also, I had no idea that New Zealand was the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote. But what I found very amusing is the fact that he Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is the current holder of the America’s Cup. I bet the Americans are not happy about that, so it’s time we take that Cup back, hahaha!
New Zealand takes this no snakes stance very seriously. When we arrived in 2003 the fine for bringing or having a snake in NZ was half a million dollars. They are not allowed anywhere, even research facilities. This prevents them from getting away.
Ryan K Biddulph
Interesting Rhonda. What a fascinating country with eye-popping records, too. I love the kea. I hear they are bold parrots and quite intelligent too. Awesome too how everyone is relatively close enough to the beach for a short day trip. Benefits of 2 narrow, long islands.
Wellness Travel Diaries
These are some really interesting facts and only wants to make me visit this special place even more. Thanks for sharing!
L. Diane Wolfe
An Alpine parrot? I never knew there was one.
Tied with Denmark for least corrupted? I’m 1/4 Danish – good to know.
Here’s another fact for you – New Zealand is in the top for both handling Covid and keeping their economy from tanking.
Ah! New Zealand is the dreaaaaam! I want to go so bad
I’d love to go back to New Zealand, can’t believe it’s 32 years since I was there.
We did a lot in 10 months, including a trip up to Cape Reinga, an amazing few days in Rotorua and the Coromandel.
I learned to scuba dive, the highlight being diving on the Rainbow Warrior north of the Bay Of Islands.
There is so much to see, so much I didn’t get to see. New Zealand is definitely a land where you can discover something new and different all the time.
Thanks for sharing so many great facts! I didn’t know a lot of them, but to be fair I dont know much about NZ in general. The most I knew was that a lot of the pretty scenes in Lord of the Rings was filmed there but I’ve never even watched the movie. Keep spreading the knowledge.