Whether you’re riding through movie sets, hurtling along in jet boats or heli-skiing in the mountains, it’s practically impossible to be bored in New Zealand. Here are 15 other reasons why this quirky country ceaselessly surprises us. And if you want to explore even more of this fascinating country, check out our Luxury Small Group Journey, departing in April 2017.
1 Meet a movie star
While on a Lord of the Rings tour, you can ride a horse that was featured in the film.
2 Girls first
New Zealand was the first place in the world that legalised women’s vote – girl power!
3 You can ski and surf on the same day
Adrenalin addicts, your Motherland is calling.
4 There are more sheep than humans
There are three million people and 60 million sheep. James Cook brought the first sheep to New Zealand in 1773.
5 Nothing will bite you
While they say that New Zealand has no poisonous spiders or snakes, it’s not quite true. There are a few sea snakes and marine snakes off shore and the Red Back spider has found its way over from Australia. However, on the whole, the land mammals are a pretty friendly bunch.
6 It was the set of more than one famous movie
The Lord of the Rings saga wasn’t the only award-winning blockbuster that was filmed there. James Cameron’s highly successful Avatar was also filmed in Middle-Earth and he is now filming three sequels.
7 It was used at practise for Everest
Edmund Hillary sharpened his climbing skills on Mount Cook before successfully taking on Mount Everest.
8 It has the world’s steepest street
Move over Lombard Street, New Zealand’s Baldwin Street in Dunedin is the steepest in the world.
9 They’re addicted to helicopters
There are more helicopters per capita than anywhere else in the world.
10 They created nuclear physics
Ernest Rutherford is the father of nuclear physics, yet there’s absolutely nothing nuclear in New Zealand.
11 They have two national anthems
They sing God Save The Queen and God Defend New Zealand.
12 It was mistaken for Argentina
When Tasman discovered the South Island of New Zealand, he named it Staten Landt, assuming it was connected to Staten Island, Argentina.
13 It’s in the Guinness World Records
There is a hill called Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu (translation “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one”). Those 85 letters make it the longest place name listed in Guinness World Records
14 They have a meat-eating snail
There is a giant albino snail in New Zealand that is carnivorous.
15 There are no mammals native to New Zealand
The country’s native species are all bird life when the land mass split from Australia years ago. The bird life was hunted to extinction by the maoris for survival and for sport by the Europeans.