Strange New Zealand
Oh, New Zealand! This spectacular travel destination! This place of natural wonders of the world! Before coming to this country we couldn`t even imagine that so many things can surprise us! And, yes, not only nature is something unexpected, but also some strange things that can happen only in New Zealand! Here are our TOP 10 Weird Facts about New Zealand!
It`s all about Kiwis here! And, yeah, those Kiwis can be a bit confusing. Kiwi is a fruit here, also a bird, and why not human as well? Let`s start with the bird. Kiwi birds are flightless birds native to New Zealand. There are five recognized species, four of which are vulnerable, and one threatened. Kiwi’s egg is one of the largest in proportion to body size in comparison with other species of bird in the world! These birds are also known for their hair-like feathers and long beak. Kiwis are recognized as an icon of New Zealand, and therefore the word even internationally is used as unofficial demonym of New Zealanders. History tells us that New Zealanders have been called Kiwis since this nickname was given to them by Australian soldiers in the First World War. Confusing? Well, that`s not it! There is also that green fruit with a soft texture and sweet, unique flavor. The Kiwi fruit! This fruit actually isn`t native to New Zealand, but introduced from China. First, it was called Chinese Gooseberry, but why not to call it the same as a bird and human? Let it be Kiwi fruit! Kiwis all around!
2. Maori language
Maori people were living in New Zealand long before the white men came. Maori culture is rich and there is so much to explore in this culture that has been protected and kept alive. “Kia ora!” is something you will see displayed all around New Zealand. That is a greeting in Maori language, which literally translates as “be well” or “be healthy”. Maori name of New Zealand is “Aotearoa”, which means “The land of the long white cloud”. But the weirdest word in Maori is “Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu”, which roughly translates as “The place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as the land-eater, played his flute to his loved ones”. This 85-letter Maori language word is given to the town in Hawke’s Bay, and it is written in the Guinness World Records as the longest name for the place in the world.
3. And Kiwi language
Official languages of New Zealand are English, Te Reo Maori and New Zealand Sign Language. But, even if the English is considered to be one of the nation`s official languages, it is still plain weird. If you not a native English speaker, this might confuse you a lot as Kiwis rarely pronounce the letter “e”. You will hear “bid” instead of “bed”, “tin” instead of “ten”, “hid” instead “head” and so on. And not only that – you will hear “tramping” instead of “hiking” and some other words of theirs. So embrace yourself! New Zealand can be quite strange!
4. More animals than humans?
Can you imagine that only 5% of New Zealand`s population is human? That is true – the land is very sparsely populated and the ones who make up the rest of 95% are animals. There are 9 sheep per each person in New Zealand, making it the highest ratio in the world!
5. Naah`, we will choose who to love!
There are so many animals in New Zealand that many of them are considered pests already. No matter how fluffy possums are, how cute the rabbits look – these animals, who were introduced to New Zealand some time ago, now have overpopulated the country. It is said that possums, rabbits and even deer are destroying the eco-system of native birds, so they have been massively haunted and killed. E.g., there are local groups organized who feed rabbits with carrots twice daily, and at the third time, poisonous carrots are fed. Those rabbits that are still alive are simply shot. Sad, but true.
6. Weird animals?
New Zealand is undoubtedly a diverse and interesting country. Here you can also find some of the world`s weirdest animals! One of them is kea. The endangered kea is the world`s only alpine parrot, and one of the most intelligent birds. It is a bird native to NZ, known among settler farmers for attacks on their sheep, and not only – this parrot loves pulling windscreen wipers off the cars and eating the strips of rubber from windows. Yeah, one nasty endangered parrot it is! And there are some other strange creatures like giant weta or wetapunga – the heaviest insect in the world. When fully grown it can even be heavier than a mouse or sparrow. During the day weta usually hides in dead foliage, but at night leave the resting place to move around. Would be scary to come across such an insect! But that`s not it! There is also a giant carnivorous snail living in New Zealand. These kind of snails are among the largest snails in the world, also among most threatened invertebrates. Powelliphanta snails have also appropriate shells for their body size and those come in an array of colours and patterns, though that`s still weird to see snail eating earthworms by sucking them up through their mouth like spaghetti.
7. Almost Southernmost
Yeah, New Zealand has a very unique location – almost everything here can be called as the world`s Southernmost. Though New Zealand is competing for some titles with Chile and Argentina as, e.g., the southernmost settlements are still located in those Latin American countries. However, one of the Southernmost cities in the world is Invercargill, the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand. And let`s not forget the Wellington, the world`s Southernmost capital city! Wellington is actually also the windiest city globally – therefore it got its nickname “Windy Wellington”. Do you wish to hear more of Southernmost? New Zealand has the Southernmost palms (Rhopalostylis sapida), the Southernmost international school John McGlashan College and Southernmost bowling club Stewart Island Bowling Club!
8. That weird movie thing
Popular movies that were made in New Zealand are “Once were Warriors”, “The Whale Rider”, “The Piano” and, of course, the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. These movies pumped around 200 million dollars into the country’s economy, and no wonder that this became something Big. New Zealand`s government even appointed a Minister for Lord of the Rings! Also, New Zealand is the only country in the world with the rights to put Hobbit-related images on its currency. Does that sound weird? They even have an official wizard in the country! In 1990, the prime minister of New Zealand appointed Ian Brackenbury Channell as the official Wizard of New Zealand. This pointy-hatted bearded wizard has some experience in politics and entertainment, and now can be met in special events around the country throughout the year. But that`s not it. New Zealand broadcasted the first weather report in Elvish language in 2012. And why not – they are home to the Lord of the Rings movies, so everything is possible here!
9. And weird taps
This is the thing we came across in the UK at first, but, as British had ruled here as well, some houses in New Zealand also have two taps completely separated from each other in the same sink. You burn or you freeze while washing your hands. Or just splash around to mix that water together somehow. We have read that separate tap installing dates back to a time when hot and cold water were kept separate to prevent contamination through cross connection. Cold water came from a mains supply and was fit for drinking, while hot water would be serviced by a storage cistern situated in the loft and wasn`t good for drinking. Shouldn`t it be fixed by today? Well, it should, but this way it`s more fun to wash the hands!
10. Two faces of New Zealand
New Zealand also have some weird rules and laws implemented. For example, there are only two countries in the world where drug companies are permitted to advertise to the public – besides USA, it`s New Zealand. Also prostitution, sex work and brothel-keeping is totally legal here! There is even organization for that called NZPC Sex Workers` Collective, ran by sex workers for sex workers. But, at the same time, New Zealands` government has banned all television advertising on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, ANZAC Day, and Christmas Day. And no alcohol is sold or supplied on the premises on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, or Christmas Day, or before 1 pm on Anzac Day. But if you really need a stronger spirit in any of those days, just post it online and seller will find you very quickly! This is New Zealand – you have to see it for yourself!
We hope that these facts fascinated you as much as they did surprise us! And we are sure that when visiting this country for a longer period of time, you will be able to discover even more! Enjoy New Zealand!