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New Zealand is one of the most gorgeous countries on earth, and even with its modest size, it has a huge amount of history, culture, and attractions for you to experience.

It’s known for its stunning national parks, dynamic Māori culture, incredible hiking trails, and world-class skiing and surfing. Whether you’re on the South Island or the North Island, there’s always something amazing to see and do.

I’ve already made so many posts about New Zealand, from raving about the psychedelic beauty of Rotorua to reveling in the sublime nature of Queenstown. But, I wanted to create a post that highlights the fun, quirky side of the country.

I’m sure some of these will surprise you because they seem almost impossible, but as you’ll see, there’s more to New Zealand than meets the eye!

Fun Facts About New Zealand:

1. Sheep Rule!

There are approximately 4.9 sheep per person in New Zealand, which is the highest sheep-to-human ratio in the world.

Currently, there are 5.15 million New Zealanders scattered across 268,021 sq km, which means there are over 25.3 million sheep in New Zealand!

What’s even more incredible is that New Zealand is bigger than the UK, yet it has one-fourteenth of its human population.

2. The Elvish Weather

New Zealand broadcasted the first weather report in the Elvish language in 2012. Of course, they would – they’re home to the Lord of the Rings movies! You can see it here.

3. For the Love of Golf

With more than 400, New Zealand has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world.

4. Let’s Bungee!

New Zealand is famous for its adrenaline adventures, especially bungee jumping! The first commercial bungee jump was made by AJ Hackett on the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown back in 1988.

Bungy Jumping in Queenstown

AJ Hackett was inspired by the cultural “bungee” jumps performed in Vanuatu with just tree vines tied to the feet.

5. The “Fake” Kiwi

The kiwi fruit is not native to New Zealand. It’s actually from China, but it was named after the Kiwi bird. The fruit didn’t arrive in New Zealand until the early 20th century, and the name “kiwifruit” became widely used in 1959.

6. Such Clear Water

The clearest lake in the world is Nelson’s Blue Lake, with a visibility of up to 80 meters deep. It’s located in Nelson Lakes National Park, which covers an area of 1,019 square kilometers.

7. Don’t go Nuclear!

There is a law that states every high school in New Zealand may hold one pound of uranium and one pound of thorium, for conducting nuclear experiments. But, they will be fined $1,000,000 should there be a nuclear explosion.

8. Southernmost Capital

Wellington is the southernmost capital in the world. It’s also the third most populous city in New Zealand and is home to the National Library, Massey and Victoria universities, and the Parliament buildings.

It’s well worth a visit as Wellington Harbour is considered to be one of the most picturesque in the world.

9. First in Women’s Rights

New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote in 1893. Since then, the country has had three female prime ministers: Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark, and Jacinda Ardern.

10. Home of the Bats

Bats are the only native land mammals in the country. The rest were introduced by Maoris and Europeans. The two native species are the Lesser Short-Tailed Bat and the Long-Tailed Bat.

The reason there are no other native land mammals is the fact that New Zealand is so geographically isolated. It’s been a separate land mass since around 70 to 80 million years ago.

11. Very Small Human Population Density

One of the most interesting facts about New Zealand is that it has a pretty small population density. It’s estimated to be around 19.5 people per square kilometer.

To put that into perspective, the US has a population density of 37 people per square kilometer, which is still considered low to moderate.

12. Steepest Residential Street

Baldwin Street in New Zealand

The steepest residential street in the world is called Baldwin Street and is located in Dunedin. It has a gradient of 34.8% (19 degrees). This has made it a curiosity among New Zealanders and a surprisingly popular tourist attraction.

13. 9th Longest Coastline

New Zealand has the 9th longest coastline in the world, with a length of 15,134 km. This puts it above much bigger countries like China, which has a coastline measuring around 14,500 km. No wonder New Zealand has so many amazing beaches!

14. Close to Antarctica

New Zealand is one of the closest countries to Antarctica. The distance from Bluff on the South Island to the George V Coast in Antarctica is around 2,550 km.

15. Always Close Enough to the Sea

No matter where you are in New Zealand, you’ll never be more than 128 km from the seaside.

16. More Scottish Pipes?

There are more Scottish piping bands per capita in New Zealand than in Scotland. This is a result of the country’s strong Scottish heritage, and New Zealand pipe bands are regarded as some of the finest in the world.

17. Tallest Free-Standing Structure in the Southern Hemisphere

Auckland has the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere (as of 2014). It is the Sky Tower, which has a height of 328m. However, the tallest manmade structure in the region is the Omega Transmitter in Victoria, Australia, which stands at around 431 meters.

18. The Flightless Bird

Kiwi Bird

The Kiwi, which is a little flightless bird native to New Zealand, lays eggs that are about 20% of the mother’s body. Kiwi eggs are six times as big as normal for a bird of its size.

19. Auckland is Full of Volcanoes

There are 50 volcanic cones in and around Auckland. But don’t worry, most of them are extinct. The most prominent one is Mount Rangitoto, which can be seen from the harbor.

20. Longest Name in Any English-Speaking Country

The 85-character-long Maori name for a hill in Hawke’s Bay is the longest place-name found in any English-speaking country.

Maori Name

It is, Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungah-oronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, which roughly translates 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.

21. Jedi Religion

During the 2001 New Zealand census, 53,715 people listed their religion as “Jedi.” That was more than the amount of Buddhists and Hindus in the country. But, by 2006, the “religion” declined to about 20,000.

22. An Official Wizard

In 1990, New Zealand became the first country in the modern world to appoint an Official National Wizard. He was called Ian Brackenbury Channell and was known for his entertaining displays of “wizardry.”

23. Australian Kiwis?

New Zealand is listed as a state of Australia in the Australian constitution and can join the Australian Confederation if they choose to. However, most Kiwis aren’t too keen on this idea, and there’s no sign of it ever happening!

24. Official Sign Language

Sign Language is one of the two official languages of New Zealand, with Te reo Maori being the second one. English is often considered an official language, but is actually just the predominant language in the country, making it a de facto official language.

25. Destructive Kea

Kea Bird

The kea, a bird native to New Zealand, is known for pulling windscreen wipers off cars and eating the strips of rubber from windows. In fact, many tourists suffer damage on their car rentals thanks to this little bird.

26. Least Corrupt Nation in the World

One of the most flattering facts about New Zealand is that, according to the Corruption Perception Index, it’s the least corrupt nation in the world (tied with Denmark).

27. No Snakes!

There are no snakes in New Zealand. None.

28. Conquering Everest

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb the Everest Summit, is originally from New Zealand.

29. Land of the Long White Cloud

New Zealand’s name in Maori is Aotearoa, which means ‘land of the long white cloud.’

30. A Huge National Park

About one-third of the country is made up of protected national parks. This equates to 13 national parks covering more than 30,000 square kilometers. It’s one of the main reasons I love visiting this place so much.

31. Lord of the Rings Minister

Lord of the Rings in New Zealand

The filming of the Lord of the Rings movies pumped about $200,000,000 into the country’s economy. The New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings to ensure the most money could be made from the films.

32. Powerful Women

In 2006, the Queen, the Governor-General, the PM, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice were all women; making New Zealand the only country in the world (to date) where all the highest positions have been simultaneously held by women.

33. New Zealand = LOTR

All but one scene of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) movies were shot in New Zealand, practically making them a 12-hour-long commercial for the country’s landscapes.

34. The New Zealand All Blacks are the Most Successful Team in Sports History

This New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team is by far the most consistently successful sports team of the past century. Since 1903, the All Blacks have had a 77 percent winning record in test match rugby and it’s the only international men’s side to have secured more wins than losses against every opponent, other than Rhodesia in 1949 (not tests).

Since the introduction of the World Rugby Rankings in 2003, New Zealand has held the number-one ranking longer than all other teams combined.

35. Sometimes, New Zealand is the First Country to See the Sunrise

During New Zealand’s spring and summer months, it gets to be the first country to see the sunrise.

The first inhabited island to receive the sun is Pitt Island, which is part of New Zealand’s Chatham Islands. But the first mainland city to welcome the sun is Gisborne.

On the other hand, during the fall and winter months, Samoa gets to be the first one to see the sunrise.

But here’s another fun fact: while New Zealand or Samoa might be the first countries to see a sunrise, they are not the first inhabited places to see the sun every day.

During the Southern Hemisphere summer, the sun never sets in Antarctica, so technically, it is the first place to see the sun (though not a sunrise).

Isn’t New Zealand so interesting and beautiful? What other facts do you know about the country? Share them here!

Lastly, if you’re looking to visit New Zealand soon, take advantage of hotel deals. It is my go-to site when looking for budget-friendly accommodation.

Also, I recommend checking out Viator’s budget-friendly tours that will show you even more of the country’s uniqueness.

Do you know any other quirky and fun New Zealand facts? Share them below!

33 Quirky and Unique Facts about New Zealand

Image 4 from Flickr Creative Commons.  Image 3 from Wikipedia Commons.  Image 5 from
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    1. My home town is nelson and I can tell you that the blue lake is protected. You can’t view it. But nearby is waikaropupu springs (commonly known to locals as pupu springs) which was a former clear water record holder. While you are there check out Abel Tasman national park by kayak! Wonderful!

  1. New zealand the most beautiful country in the world. Vibrant culture, friendly natured people, mesmerizing landscapes,wide open spaces,world famous golf courses, green fresh gardens etc make this country unique. My dream destination in abroad. I wanna take birth in new zealand and want to experience the rich lifestyle and die with peace. Lot of love and respect from India.

  2. #3, There is also the highest golf course in the world. You can helicopter to a one hole course atop Queenstown’s Incredibles Range.

    #10, there are 5 species of native mammals in New Zealand. Two species of bats, one of which has gone extinct, and three species of seals. The seals reside at the southern end of the south island and on some small islands even further south.

    #26, not even that business man turned politician John Key? Or is he just a fool?

    #27, are the no snakes in any zoos?

    1. I don’t think snakes in a zoo really count as saying there are such animals in the country. Or should we say there are arctic penguins and dromedaries in the Continental USA just because you can find them in zoos?

  3. Hello Norbert,
    Wonderful article.It helped me know about unknown facts about newzealand.
    Newzealand is my favourite country.It is world’s least corrupt country.
    Facts like wellington is world’s southernmost capital in the world and kiwis fruit not being native of newzealand are interesting.
    Longest place name of 85 letters in newzealand is amazing fact.
    Unlike australia there are no snakes in newzealand.

    1. If you read properly, they were talking about the RATIO to humans, not per CAPITAL. Jeez, man, you need reeead better. ◔_◔

      1. Per Capita.
        Not per Capital.
        Meaning of per capita : Per capita is a Latin term that translates to “by head.” Per capita means the average per person and is often used in place of “per person” in statistical observances.
        Meaning of Capital : the city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative centre of a country or region.

    2. The number of sheep is increased every spring to about 120 million because there are about 80 million lambs born.

  4. I have to do a blog entry for school, and this week’s topic was how is it unique. this really helped me do my blog. THANK YOU, NORBERT!!!!!!!

  5. Wow!
    I didn’t realise that only 5% of the population in New zealand is human! This is really shocking to hear, as I live in New Zealand yet I never knew!

  6. This is fantastic! I’m a Kiwi, doing a quiz night and looking for some general knowledge NZ facts to put in and I didn’t know a lot of this. Thanks!

    And like your earlier comment, also makes me proud to be a Kiwi!

  7. Thank you so very much. NZ women should be proud to administer a low corruption country. You have to be very careful about this piece of heaven on Earth. My country Iran cares the least about its beautiful nature. I am posting sth on my Insta about your native language. Kia kaha !

      1. They are one of the largest exporters of lamb and mutton in the world. According to Beef & Lamb New Zealand, the country exported about 400,000 tons of lamb and mutton in the year ending Sept 2019.

  8. Need so many? Farmers make good money and want to keep up their double income stream from producing wool and meat. Conditions are perfect too, as there is high rainfall therefore endless rolling green hilly pasture that sheep are the most suited to.

  9. One or other NZer invented: the electric milking machine, and fence, refrigerated cargo (sheep carcasses of course), the sealed tin/can, and was first to split the atom!

  10. Dear Norbert,

    I’m an ex pat Kiwi in Scotland, near Edinburgh, show casing New Zealand to our local National Women’s Register Group this evening. I looked for quirky facts and boy did you deliver. Armed with some this old kiwi didn’t know and all the others I did know, boy am I looking forward to this! Thank you so much.

  11. New Zealand does have some *technically* native snakes – sea snakes who arrive here on currents are deemed native because they are self introduced! And just a note that 1/3rd of the country is not “national park” but “public conservation land”. There are 13 national parks across the country though! I learned we have the 9th longest coastline, that’s amazing!