Interesting facts about New Zealand

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Whether you’re looking for practical planning tips or you’re interested in New Zealand’s history and culture, here are some facts to get you started.

Also Read: Facts about Auckland

Country

New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island and the South Island —and more than 700 smaller islands, covering a total area of 268,021 square kilometres.

Name 

New Zealand is named after the Dutch province called Zeeland which means country by the sea. The Māori name of New Zealand is Aotearoa which means “land of the long white cloud”.

Language

Māori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand. 

English is the most widely spoken language in the country, with over 95% of the population using it in their everyday lives, compared with Māori (4.1%) and New Zealand Sign Language (0.5%).

Kiwi Slang 

Barbie (Barbecue)Good as Gold (Great)No Sweat (No problem)
Bro (Brother, Friend)Heaps (A lot)OE (Overseas experience, long term holiday)
Bush (Forest of Trees and Plants)How’s it going mate?  (Greeting, how are you?)Op Shop  (Second-hand shop)
Down Under (Australia, New Zealand)Jumper (Sweatshirt)Ripped off (Paid too much)
Footy (Rugby)Knackered (Exhausted)Sweet As (Very good)
Gidday (Hello, Good day)Mozzie (Mosquito)Togs (Swimwear)

Māori words that are often used in daily life in New Zealand:

Whanau- Family

Kumara – Sweet Potato

Haere Mai – Come here

Population

New Zealand’s population is estimated at just over 5 million according to Stats NZ 30th December report. 87% of the population in New Zealand is urban.

Largest City

New Zealand’s largest cities are Auckland and Wellington in the North Island, and Christchurch in the South Island.

Capital

Wellington has been the capital of New Zealand since 1865. 

Weather

Weather in New Zealand can be unpredictable. Locals like to joke that you can experience four seasons in one day!

Temperatures 

  1. Spring = September – November with an average daytime temperature 16 – 19°C (61 – 66°F)
  2. Summer = December – February with an average daytime temperature 20 – 25°C (68 – 77°F)
  3. Autumn = March – May with an average daytime temperature 17 – 21°C (62 – 70°F)
  4. Winter = June – August with an average daytime temperature 12 – 16°C (53 – 61°F)

When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

Summer is the most popular time to visit New Zealand. The months are December, January and February.

If you’re someone who would prefer to enjoy sunny days, but with fewer crowds, the best time to go to New Zealand is in autumn. From March to May the weather is still reasonably warm, especially in the north.

Currency 

The official currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD).

  • Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2.
  • Notes have values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

Foreign currency can simply be exchanged at banks, several hotels and Bureau de Changes, which can be found at international airports and most city centres.

Costs

Accommodation:  – Pricing depends on the place, time of year, day of the week and size of the property. We have A rough estimate in NZD$ for the following places to stay, rental or purchase. 

  • Campsite: $10-$35 per person, per night
  • Dorm bed in a hostel / backpackers: $17-$35 per night
  • 3 star motel / hotel room: $80-$250 per night
  • Property rental: between 1,650 – 2,050 NZD
  • Average house price: 461,000 NZD

Transport: We have listed a rough estimate with NZD$ on how much it is to either hire or purchase a vehicle in NZ.

  • Economy car hire –  NZ$20-60 per day
  • Motorhome hire – NZ$40-$120 per day
  • A cheap car can be priced for about $1000

Food: The following prices are a rough estimate in NZD$.

  • Breakfast $17
  • Dining out $17
  • Meal per day is $43

Tipping and Service Charges: Tipping in New Zealand is not necessary to tip at restaurants, hotels, bars, salons, or spas, as well as in a taxi, unless the service exceeds all expectations. However, tipping for good service is at the discretion of the visitor.

Time Zone

New Zealand’s 2 main islands, North Island and South Island, both lie in the same time zone. The Chatham Islands, located about 860 kilometers (534 miles) east of Christchurch, have a separate time zone, which is 45 minutes ahead of mainland New Zealand. 

National Anthem

“God Defend New Zealand” is one of two national anthems of New Zealand, the other being “God Save the Queen”. Legally the two have equal status, but “God Defend New Zealand” is more commonly used. Originally written as a poem, it was set to music as part of a competition in 1876.

National Flag

New Zealand’s national flag is a Blue Ensign with the Southern Cross of four red five-pointed stars centred within four white five-pointed stars making eight stars in total with the colours dualing each other on the outer half of the flag. The New Zealand flag was designed by Albert Hastings Markham.

National Symbols

National symbols for New Zealand include:

  • Silver fern – A species of medium-sized tree fern, endemic to New Zealand. Often referred to by its Māori name, ponga, the silver fern has been used to represent New Zealand since the 1880s.
  • Kiwi bird – he term Kiwis has been used as a nickname for New Zealanders since at least World War I, and the bird’s use as a symbol for the country dates from the same era.
  • Kōwhai Flower – Evergreen tree, producing bright yellow flowers in spring. Blooms of kōwhai are found throughout New Zealand in a diverse range of habitats. 

National holiday

  • New Zealand’s national holiday is Waitangi Day on 6 February each year which commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 by the Maori chiefs and Great Britain. The Treaty of Waitangi is recognised as the founding document of New Zealand.
  • New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Queen’s Birthday, Labour Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Prime Minister

New Zealand Prime Minister is Jacinda Ardern.

Cultural Icons

  • The All Blacks – The country’s national rugby union team.
  • The Haka – A traditional Māori war dance, now widely used by sports teams as a challenge and by schools as a tribute or honour.
  • Hei-tiki – Traditional Māori ornamental pendants.
  • Kiwi fruit – This fruit was branded kiwifruit when growers in New Zealand established successful cultivars suitable for export. It remains a major export for the country.
  • The Lord Of The Rings – The film director Peter Jackson’s film trilogy was filmed entirely in New Zealand.
  • The Beehive – The distinctly shaped executive wing of New Zealand Parliament Buildings, built in the 1970s.
  • Mitre Peak – A distinctive peak which dominates Milford Sound, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
  • Sky Tower – the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere which opened in 1997.

Driving in New Zealand

  • If you wish to drive in New Zealand, you must hold a valid international driver’s licence or a driving permit accompanied by the driver’s licence that the permit is based on.
  • In New Zealand you are to drive on the left-hand side of the road and our vehicles seat the driver on the right.
  • The road conditions in New Zealand are often narrow, hilly and windy with lots of sharp corners.
  • Outside of the main cities, there are not many motorways. Most of the roads in New Zealand are single lane in each direction without barriers in between. You may also find gravel roads.
  • There are rest area signs across the roads where you can stop.
  • Always check the weather forecast before departing, and adjust your plans accordingly, as in New Zealand you can experience four seasons in one day.
  • Drink driving is dangerous and New Zealand has strict penalties if you are caught doing so. In New Zealand, the legal drink drive limits for drivers 20 years and over are a breath alcohol limit of 250 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath and a blood alcohol limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. If you’re under 20 there is a zero alcohol limit.

Mobile and Internet Access

If you’re looking to stay connected to the internet and phone services everywhere you go, it’s recommended that you purchase a plan from one of New Zealand’s main networks. Note that mobile coverage is not available in some rural and wilderness areas.

The main networks are:

  • Vodafone
  • Spark
  • Skinny
  • 2Degrees
  • Orcon Mobile

Data and mobile packs range from $19, depending on how much data you require and how long you are in New Zealand.

New Zealand currently has limited access to free WiFi services. Free WiFi hotspots are found mainly in urban areas and are not common in small towns or rural regions.

  • Free WiFi in city centres (central Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington and Dunedin).
  • Some of New Zealand’s accommodation providers provide free WiFi for guests. Always best to check before you go ahead and book.

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