For New Zealand’s installment on the famous things across the globe series, we have asked our fellow New Zealander travel blogger Maureen Spencer of “So Many Places! So Little Time!” What is New Zealand famous for? This is her awesome response!
When we, a couple of New Zealanders, are traveling around the world, we like to ask people in the country we are visiting what they know about New Zealand. Listed below, in no particular order, are their responses – the things, people and places that overseas people recognize as being iconic New Zealand.
10 Things New Zealand is famous for
Hobbit Trilogy and The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
New Zealand is now known as Middle Earth to millions of ‘Lord of The Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy fans. These movies have showcased to the world the awesomeness and variety of stunning landscapes New Zealand has to offer.
Over 150 spectacular locations were used to make these films and many overseas visitors come to New Zealand to experience them for themselves.
The bird, the kiwi, not to be confused with the fruit! We are devastated when overseas people associate the word “kiwi” with the brown furry-skinned kiwifruit that is grown in New Zealand. The kiwifruit is very important to our economy and sold overseas en masse. However, the ‘kiwifruit’ is the fruit. The’ kiwi’ is a bird! Please don’t confuse the two!
The kiwi, our national bird, of which we are very proud, is a shy, brown, nocturnal, flightless bird, which has a long beak with nostrils at the end. Its feathers are like hairs and it lays an enormous egg. It lives in the dark bush areas of New Zealand’s forests. Kiwis are difficult to find, especially as they are nocturnal. They are very unique birds and we are very proud of them.
There are ten major wine regions in New Zealand producing a variety of wines, 90% of which are now exported.
The first wine vine was planted 200 years ago. The oldest operating winery is the Mission Estate Winery in the Hawkes Bay, but it was the sauvignon blanc grown in Marlborough that started the New Zealand wine export boom, and lately, the pinot noir has also become internationally well recognized.
The sheep are easily one of the most famous things about New Zealand. In 1982 there were 22 sheep for every person in New Zealand. In 2019 this number has reduced to 5.6 sheep for every person, but this is still a very large number of sheep and everywhere you go in New Zealand you won’t be too far away from some grazing sheep.
Even in the middle of Auckland City, there is a large park called Cornwall Park bordering an extinct volcano called One Tree Hill, where sheep graze, much to the delight of our Asian visitors who can get a chance to see them up close especially in the lambing season.
The Manuka tree only grows in New Zealand, and the honey the bees produce from has been extensively researched. It is highly valued for its rare and complex properties and highly valued worldwide for its unique antibacterial and bioactive healing qualities.
There are only about 25 days a year when it is flowering in the spring that the bees can gather the nectar. To enable good honey production the weather conditions have to be suitable as well with no strong winds and rain.
The Haka and The All Blacks
If you are a rugby follower anywhere in the world, you will know about New Zealand’s famous All Black rugby team. They are the most successful rugby team of all time, with a win rate of nearly 80 percent. They won the last two World Cups, and are currently challenging for their third championship with the support of all New Zealanders.
The haka (war dance) of the Maori people have been made famous through the international rugby games with the All Blacks. It was first performed in 1888 and is a thrilling pre-match spectacle to watch with lots of foot-stomping, eye-rolling, tongue poking, leaping and body slapping while they perform the loud chant. It must feel very threatening to the opposition team, who must just stand by and watch.
Extreme Sports and Outdoor Pursuits
Everyone seems to recognize New Zealand for its adventure tourism. The New Zealander, A J Hackett, became world-famous when he illegally bungee jumped off the Eiffel Tower. He started the first commercial bungee jumping at Ohakune in the North Island of New Zealand and Queenstown in the South Island.
Bungee jumping is now a popular activity worldwide, but New Zealand has some of the most amazing bungee sites like the Sky Tower in Auckland City, the Auckland Harbour Bridge and many, many sites with stunning scenery.
The list of adventure activities in New Zealand is endless and includes sky diving, canyoning, zip-lining, caving, rafting, abseiling, jet boating, off-road driving, kite surfing, and sandboarding. If it’s thrilling and scary, we’ve got it here for you to try in New Zealand
Walks, Hikes, and Tramps
About one-third of New Zealand is made up of spectacular natural landscapes in national parks or reserves in huge wilderness areas and there are ‘9 Great Walks’ that New Zealand is famous for. Each offers unique landscapes and hiking challenges. Most of them are in mountain or high country areas and take from two to six days to complete.
The Abel Tasman track is in the north of the South Island and is a stunningly beautiful coastal track. Probably the most famous is the Milford Track towards the bottom of the South Island with its 53km worth of mountains, valleys, lakes, and awesome views.
The stunning scenery is one of the main things people associate with New Zealand and it is everywhere in great abundance – the ancient glaciers and magnificent mountains, the towering fiords and sounds, the marine reserves, the golden sand swimming beaches and the rugged west coast black sand surf beaches, the rolling green farmland and small friendly rural towns.
Some of the most famous scenic places are Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, Rotorua, Queenstown, Bay of Islands and the North Cape, Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and Mount Cook!
Have you considered a cruise around New Zealand? Check out our website for nine good reasons why you should cruise New Zealand.
New Zealanders are regarded as friendly, hospitable, and down to earth people, who generally welcome visitors to their country.
Some of our famous New Zealanders are Sir Edmund Hillary who conquered Mount Everest back in 1953 with Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay. Lorde, Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, the young singer, unconventional songwriter and record producer who leaped to fame in 2013 with her first single “Royals.” Peter Jackson who is a director and movie maker of the world-renowned films ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy and ‘King Kong.’ Kiri Te Kanawa- New Zealand’s most recognized opera singer and one of the world’s leading operatic sopranos. Ernest Rutherford who was a famous pioneer physicist who was known as the father of nuclear physics and was the first to split the atom.
It was interesting to discover that this is what New Zealand is famous for – these are the places, people and things that are the most well known by people on our travels overseas. Though, if you are visiting New Zealand or chatting to New Zealanders remember that the famous “kiwi” is a very cute, unique bird not a fruit!
By Maureen Spencer of “So Many Places! So Little Time!” – Online travel magazine and blog
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