There’s no doubt New Zealand is the jewel of the southern hemisphere with its stunning mountain ranges, delightful beaches and beautiful native bush. This much is no secret, but there are a lot of quirky and unique facts about NZ that aren’t so widely known. Here’s a small selection you can impress your friends with.
- By most standards, New Zealand is a small country. It measures 2,227km from Cape Reinga in the far north, to Bluff, our southernmost centre. You can drive from one end of NZ to the other in around 30 hours. But because of its long, slender and often serrated shape, NZ boasts the ninth longest coastline in the world, covering 15,134km.
- Historically, New Zealand’s biggest earner has been agriculture, so there’s no surprise we humans are greatly outnumbered by our livestock. In 2016, Statistics NZ estimated the ratio of sheep to people at 6:1. That’s around 29.5 million sheep versus 4.6 million people.
As dairy farming has become more profitable and popular in NZ, the numbers of sheep have declined. Back in 1982 when sheep numbers peaked at 70.3 million, the ratio was 22:1!
- The force is clearly strong in New Zealand with around 53,000 individuals stating ‘Jedi’ as their religious affiliation in the 2001 census. While the topic may seem a bit tongue in cheek to some, and downright offensive to others, changes have been made in anticipation of the 2018 census, so data collected will “more accurately reflect people’s religious, philosophical, and spiritual beliefs.”
- Reassuringly, New Zealand ranks as the world’s least corrupt country. Joining NZ at the ‘good end’ of the Corruption Perception Index are Denmark and Finland.
- If you’re not fond of slithering serpents, you can rest assured you won’t have any snake encounters in Aotearoa. That’s because we don’t have any snakes whatsoever, unlike our Australian neighbours who have around 170 varieties of snake, 100 of which are venomous.
You may want to keep an eye out for the cute, but cheeky Kea, though. This alpine bird is frequently found in the carparks of South Island ski resorts and is known for vandalising vehicles’ windscreen wipers!
- New Zealand’s most inland point is close to the South Island town of Cromwell. Just 119km from the sea, you can find the point here. This means, no matter where you are in NZ, you’re never far from one of our awesome beaches. So, happy travels and safe swimming!
‘Cape Reinga, New Zealand’ by sandeepachetan.com travel photography under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0