8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About New Zealand

Posted: October 13, 2011    Categories: 8 Things, New Zealand

When this is posted, I should be arriving in New Zealand via Qantas Airlines for the first time in over 4 years. I’ll be spending the next 10 days driving around with Aussies who are there for the Rugby World Cup. Because I never did it last time, I think it is time for another installment of “8 Facts You Might Not Have Known…”

1) New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote. Women were granted the right to vote on September 19, 1893 and voted in the first election on November 28, 1893. Universal suggrage did not occur in the UK until 1928 and in the United States until 1920.

2) Nowhere in New Zealand is more than 128 km (80 miles) from the sea. It is an island (two to be precise) and rather long and slender. The result of that is you are never more than an hour or two from the sea, no matter where you are. You could be skiing in the Southern Alps and splashing in the ocean in the same day.

3) New Zealand has the world’s longest English language place name: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu. It is a maori word for a hill on the North Island of the country. Roughly translated it means “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.” It is locally known as Taumata, but the long form of the word is in the official register. The longest non-English place name is the traditional name for Bangkok, Thailand.

4) New Zealand has the world’s largest hot water spring. Frying Pan Lake near Rotorua, is the world’s largest hot water spring reaching a temperature of 200°C at it’s deepest point. The area around Rotorua is actually the second largest geothermal area in the world after Yellowstone National Park.

5) New Zealand has the southern most vineyards in the world. The vineyards of Central Otago, New Zealand, are the southern most vineyards in the world at 45° South. To give you a comparison, the northernmost vineyard is at 61° North in Finland and the Bordeaux region in France is approximately 45° North. New Zealand wines are famous around the world, especially their white wines.

6) New Zealand contains more bookstores and golf courses per head of population than any other country. To be snarky, the bookstores is probably due to the poor internet I found in New Zealand. The golf courses is probably due to the good weather and available land. That being said, I can’t think of a great Kiwi golfer off the top of my head.

7) New Zealand has 10 sheep for every 1 person. Despite the stereotypes about New Zealand, they actually do have way more sheep than people. The ratio used to be much more lopsided but an growing population and a shrinking agriculture bases now has it down to a modest 10-to-1. Let us hope the sheep never get organized.

8) New Zealand is home to the world’s only flightless parrot, the Kakapo as well as the only alpine parrot in the world, the Kea. Last time I was in the country, I heard stories about the Kea and how they will take cars apart. They will literally land on cars and start dismantling the antenna, windshield wipers, hood ornaments, and anything they can get their beak on.

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