Things I’ve Learned In New Zealand

Things I’ve Learned In New Zealand

“Roads go ever ever on, Over rock and under tree, By caves where never sun has shone, By streams that never find the sea; Over snow by winter sown, And through the merry flowers of June, Over grass and over stone,  And under mountains in the moon.”  JR Tolkien

The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa. land of the long white cloud’.


New Zealand  is the least corrupt nation in the world (tied with Denmark), according to the Corruptions Perception Index.

A wee walk in New Zealand is a 10k. (Abel Tasman National Park)


The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the British and Maori, making New Zealand a colony of the British Empire.


In 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to give all women the right to vote.

You can drink delicious water right from your tap.

The longest place name in the world is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a hill in Hawkes Bay.


No part of the country is more than 128km (79 miles) from the sea. Galveston is the most inland city.

Almost every town in New Zealand has a World War I memorial where the ANZAC forces were brutally slaughtered at Galipoli, Turkey. It was the first time New Zealand stepped out on the world stage and the Kiwi troops made a name for themselves fighting bravely with the Australians. (Queenstown)


Small cities and towns in New Zealand close by five the latest. Starbucks closes at five- sometimes before. In fact, New Zealand is not open most of the time. 

All  the small towns look like movie set towns. (The Cinema Paradiso in Methven)


Of all the population in the country, only 5% is human. The rest are animals, making it the highest animal to humans ratio in the world.

There are 9 sheep per each person in New Zealand, making it the highest ratio in the world and forcing New Zealanders to endure a lot of sheep jokes. Don’t worry they give it right back to you about your own country.

There are no land snakes, native or introduced in New Zealand. New Zealand was a land of birds. All four legged animals were brought here. 

The Kea, a bird native to New Zealand, is known for pulling windscreen wipers off cars and eating the strips of rubber from windows. In fact, many tourists suffer damages on their car rentals thanks to this little bird.

Here is why you need to learn to read, the kaka can not.


The Kiwi, which is a little flightless bird native to New Zealand, lays eggs that are about 20% of the mother’s body. There is something poignant about a bird that lays such a large egg and can’t get it off the ground to protect it.


The kiwi fruit is not native from New Zealand. It’s actually from China, but it was named after the kiwi bird.


Sunset in the summer in New Zealand is at 9:30PM. That was the only summer thing happening with the weather when I was there.

New Zealand has three official languages: English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language. Signs are always in English and Maori.


No seatbelt is a serious infractions in New Zealand. There are random police seatbelt checks. The fine is 150 dollars.

Border Pest control is another serious infraction. Biosecurity in New Zealand guards against threats to agriculture and biodiversity with strict border control measures being taken to prevent unwanted organisms from entering the country.  I waited in a queue at the airport in Auckland for two hours to be checked for illegal fruit. (Wellington museum)


New Zealand has more Scottish pipe bands per capita than any other country in the world. There is nothing under those kilts – even when they were on their way to battle. (How do I know this?) As you go further down the  South Island the accents become  more and more Scottish influenced and harder to understand for me. Keetle is not kettle but cattle.


I always learn new things when I travel.


The first man to climb Mt. Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, was a Kiwi.


Tramping is a popular activity in New Zealand. It is known elsewhere as backpacking, hill walking or bushwalking, A network of tramping tracks has been developed throughout New Zealand of varying lengths and difficulties. The most popular are the Nine  Great Walks. You will run into many people tramping with plenty of gear on their backs. They do not look happy.

Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, is the world’s steepest street.

About one-third of the country is protected national park. (Tongariro National Park)


15% of New Zealand’s population are Māori. New Zealanders seemed to have a much more respectful history with the Maori than Australians and Aborigines. It is pronounced Mow-ri not May-or-ee.


In the Lord of the Rings films, the beer drunk on camera was a custom New Zealand brew called ‘Sobering Thought’.

New Zealand broadcasted the first weather report in Elvish language in 2012.

The filming of these movies pumped around $200 million into the country’s economy. The New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, to ensure the most money could be made from the films.

There is Lord Of The Rings art made from jelly bellies (my favorite candy) at the top of the gondola in Queenstown and a jelly belly store!!!! I was happy. 


There is a lot of Lord of the Rings scenery in New Zealand. Now i have to see the film.


The man who pioneered plastic surgery, Harold Gillies, was a Kiwi.

There are more vending machines in Japan than there are people in New Zealand.

When it comes to pies, think New Zealand. They are a staple and can be found anywhere -like sandwiches and hamburgers or green juice in LA. They are filled with sausages, meat, bacon, eggs, cheese, spinach, chicken etc. (Queenstown)


New Zealand has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world.

Winemaking is fairly new to New Zealand compared to other wine regions in the world. (Waiheke Island)


They are now producing wines that have international acclaim. The four main grapes are sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon.


Rugby is the national religion of New Zealand. (Auckland)


The first commercial bungee jump was made by AJ Hackett in the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, back in 1988. AJ Hackett got inspired by the cultural “bungee” jumps performed in Vanuatu with just tree vines tied to their feet.

New Zealanders seem to love to jump off or out of stuff.

Manuka Honey is made by bees that feed the Manuka trees  in New Zealand, It has antibacterial properties and has been used by the Maori in their tonics and remedies for many years. Manuka Honey is graded with UMF rating. A rating or 20 or above will give you the strongest medical benefits. Under that number, it is still  expensive and tastes good and acts like other honey.


The clearest lake in the world is Nelson’s Blue Lake, with a visibility of up to 80 meters deep.


Mackenzie Basin is the driest most infertile place in New Zealand and has the most rabbits (which are pests)


New Zealand is the third closest country to Antarctica, only after Chile and Argentina.

Young male suicide rate is up in New Zealand. There are  also many  deaths caused by homemade alcohol and most deaths in mountains are caused by ignorance.

A war has raged between the popularity of New Zealand marmite and Australian vegemite. New Zealand marmite is definitely an acquired taste and generally described as incredibly salty and savory. It is made from a potent mix of yeast, sugar, salt, herbs, spices, vitamins and mineral and is a popular breakfast spread. It’s been around since 1910 in New Zealand so while it’s a firm favorite for New Zealanders, it’s almost always an acquired taste for everyone else. (It is just as gross as Australian vegemite to me. I think it is a tie.)


42 Below Vodka is one of New Zealand’s most famous alcoholic exports. The success of this vodka is also testament to good old-fashioned kiwi perseverance and ingenuity. The story of this vodka’s path to success has also been immortalized in a book about its humble beginnings. It’s called Every Bastard Says No by Geoff Ross. If you’d rather drink the vodka instead of read about it, 42 Below Vodka is available in a range of distinctly kiwi flavours e.g. manuka honey, kiwifruit.


New Zealand is hoping to be smoke free by 2025. Cigarettes are up to forty-five dollars a pack ( good country for me –  I’m allergic to smoke).

In New Zealand  you will hear the word “Kiwi” quite a lot – on the one hand there is the native flightless bird and  the Kiwi Fruit but on the other hand it is also used as a slang term for a New Zealander.

New Zealand is filled with epic movie worthy scenery and just went you think it can’t get more beautiful there is a snow-capped mountain, clear blue water or a perfect volcano.(Tongariro National Park)


Fly safe,


5 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned In New Zealand

  1. Excellent. Only one thing, my dear friend Ian, himself a Kiwi, grew up calling kiwi fruit “Chinese Gooseberries.”

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Ernest Rutherford, guy who performed the gold foil alpha particle scattering experiment to discover that the atom was mostly empty space was a kiwi scientist too!

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