15 Quirky and Unique Facts About New Zealand

Fifteen Quirky and Unique Facts About New Zealand

For such a small country, New Zealand never runs out of surprises.

Sure, it’s known as one of the most desirable countries to live in, what with its stable economy, high-quality public services, and largely unspoiled environment. But if did you know that underneath its pristine natural beauty lies an endearingly quirky character?

Read on and learn about fifteen things that make New Zealand so delightfully unique:

1. Ever wondered why New Zealanders are sometimes called “Kiwi’s?”

kiwi bird
Image Credit: Animal Picture Society

No, it’s not because of the fuzzy, tart green fruit but rather after the kiwi bird, which is a small bird that can’t fly but can lay one heck of an egg (about six times as big for a bird of its size).

2. Speaking of kiwi fruit, it’s not even from New Zealand.

Kiwi fruits originated in China, but were imported to New Zealand.

Well, I guess everything’s made in China these days anyway.

3. Every high school in New Zealand is equipped to conduct nuclear experiments.

Every high school in New Zealand is equipped to conduct nuclear experiments
Image Credit: Vernier

Apparently, NZ has a law that allows its high schools to hold one pound each of uranium and thorium for the purpose of experimenting with nuclear energy.

So, you can attempt to blow up your school (and that irritating professor who makes your life a living hell), but only if you’re prepared to shell out NZ$1,000,000 as a penalty for the resulting explosion.

4. Only 5% of the total population is human.

New Zealand has the highest ratio of animal to humans ratio in the world. Heck, there are 9 sheep per person here.

No word on the Hobbit-human ratio, however.

5. Filming of the Lord of the Rings movie franchise funneled NZ$200,000,000 into the country’s economy.

Lord of the Rings

Speaking of Hobbits, Peter Jackson and G.R.R. Tolkien were undoubtedly a boon to this island nation. The LotR franchise contributed so much to NZ’s coffers that the government even appointed a minister for it (Minister of Lord of the Rings, does a job title ever get cooler than that?) to ensure that the country could make the most money out of the films.

Perhaps we should offer Lionsgate the right to shoot the next “Hunger Games” reboot in EDSA and see where that leads, no?

6. Only one scene in all the LotR films wasn’t shot in New Zealand.

So, the entire movie franchise is practically one long “Wow New Zealand” commercial.

7. As a tribute, a local news channel actually broadcasted a weather report in the (fictional) Elvish language.

I’m not even kidding, you can view it here.

Now, which country would be the first to do the same in Dothraki?

8. New Zealand is tied with Denmark as the least corrupt nation in the world.

New Zealand is tied with Denmark as the least corrupt nation in the world

That’s according to the Corruption Perceptions Index last year. Looks like all that LotR money was probably put to good use then.

And no, I don’t know where the Philippines ranks in the same index. I’d rather not find out, thanks.

9. There are no snakes in New Zealand whatsoever.

Hmm, is it all because they’re the least corrupt country in the world? I wonder…

10. New Zealand was the first country to grant women the right to vote.

women's right to vote
Image Credit: Getty Images

It was granted on 19 September 1893, more than a century ago and women have flourished since, which brings us to…

11. In 2006, New Zealand made history as the only country so far where all the government’s highest positions were simultaneously held by women.

That year, the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice were all women, as was the titular Head of the Commonwealth (none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, of course).

12. A good percentage of New Zealand’s population consider themselves Jedi’s when asked about their religion.

About 20,000 registered as such in a 2006 census.

13. Christchurch actually appointed an official Wizard of New Zealand.

Wizard of New Zealand
Image Credit: Christ Church Daily Photo

His duties include providing philosophical and political commentary, casting spells for the local rugby team, and doing the odd bit of street performance art.

14. New Zealand has three official languages: English, Maori, and sign language.

15. In Maori, New Zealand is called “Aotearoa,” which means “land of the long white cloud” in English.

Who said New Zealand was boring, eh?

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