Thursday, June 3, 2010

How well do you know New Zealand?


During your New Zealand travels, you might happen to see or hear a something that is, shall we say, a little different to that which you might experience every day. Take for example, a sign for a hill in Hawke's Bay called "Taumatawhakatangi- hangakoauauotamatea- turipukakapikimaunga- horonukupokaiwhenuaki- tanatahu" meaning "The summit of the hill, where Tamatea, who is known as the land eater, slid down, climbed up and swallowed mountains, played on his nose flute to his loved one"
As well as boasting the world's longest placename (at 85 letters), New Zealand has a number of other interesting, and sometimes quirky attributes such as the world's only living dinosaur, the highest number of golf courses per capita in the world and, more Scottish pipe bands per head of population than Scotland!
If any of these statistics surprise you, then perhaps you'd better check our full list of interesting New Zealand facts before you set out to explore the New Zealand you may only have thought you knew.
  • Less than five per cent of New Zealand's population is human - the rest are animals. This is one of the highest ratios of animals to humans in the world
  • The tuatara, a lizard-like creature found only in New Zealand, is the oldest living genus of reptile in the world. Its ancestry can be traced back 190 million years to the dinosaur age
  • New Zealand's Lake Taupo, was formed by the world's biggest recorded eruption in the last 75,000 years. The dust from the eruption could be seen as far away as Rome and China
  • Frying Pan Lake, near Rotorua, is the world's largest hot water spring, with temperatures reaching 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit) at its deepest point
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in New Zealand was 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit) in Marlborough and Canterbury. The lowest temperature recorded was -21.6 degrees Celsius (-6.9 degrees Fahrenheit), at Ophir in Central Otago
  • New Zealand has 15,811km (9824 miles) of coastline, and no matter where you are in the country, you are never more than 128km from the ocean
  • The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, which translates as "the land of the long white cloud". Legend has it that it was named by the great Polynesian explorer Kupe, when he first sighted the country in 950 AD
  • The first European to discover New Zealand was Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642. Captain James Cook claimed New Zealand for Britain in 1769
  • Team New Zealand's victory in the 2000 America's Cup - sailing’s premier event - was the first time in the regatta's 149-year history that it was successfully defended outside the United States
  • At the time of writing, New Zealand is the world champion in the sports of netball, men's softball and women's rugby
  • There are more golf courses per capita in New Zealand than any other country in the world - with 400 courses, that's one for every 10,000 people
  • There are more Scottish pipe bands per head of population in New Zealand than in Scotland
  • Baldwin Street in Dunedin is known as the steepest street in the world with a maximum gradient 1 in 2.9 angle over 38 degrees
  • New Zealand has a population of four million. Of those, 1.2 million live in the largest city, Auckland
  • New Zealand's indigenous Maori make up 14 per cent of the population. Six percent are Polynesian, and a further six per cent are Asian
  • The total land area, 268,680 sq km (103,738 sq miles), makes New Zealand similar in size to the United Kingdom, and a little smaller than Italy and Japan. The country extends more than 1600 km (1000 miles) along()New Zealand's longest river is the Waikato, which carves 425km (264 miles) through the North Island. The highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook, stands at 3754 metres (12316 ft) in the Southern Alps, the backbone of the South Island
  • Almost one third of the country, almost three million hectares (7.5 million acres), is protected in national parks or recreational reserves. Tongariro National Park, with its desert-like plateau and active volcanoes, is a dual World Heritage area - recognising its Maori cultural and spiritual associations, and its volcanic features
  • New Zealanders have a love affair with the sea. Auckland, the City of Sails, has more boats per capita than anywhere in the world with 80,000 privately-owned boats - one for every eight Aucklanders
  • New Zealand's basic currency unit is the New Zealand dollar, known in international markets as "The Kiwi"


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