Facts about New Zealand

30 New Zealand Facts for Kids

Here are some interesting facts about New Zealand which were chosen and researched especially for kids.

Facts about New Zealand 
Country and People

1. New Zealand is a country located in a region called Oceania. This Southern Hemisphere country is surrounded by the South Pacific Ocean.

2. About 600 islands belong to the country and the two main islands of New Zealand are called North Island and South Island.

Map of New ZealandNew Zealand's Māori name is Aotearoa

3. The Māori name for the country is Aotearoa which means "land of the long white cloud". The indigenous Maori people call the islands Te Ika-a-Māui which means 'Fish of Maui' and Te Waipounamu which means 'Waters of Greenstone' 

4. The name New Zealand comes from the Dutch 'Nieuw Zeeland' after the Dutch province called Zeeland which means country by the sea. The Dutch were the first European explorers of the islands.

5. Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. The city is located on South Island. About 417,000 people live in Wellington (2021). Wellington is the southernmost capital city in the world!

Wellington waterfront - weekend crowds relax on Wellington's inner city walkways. Credit: Hayden Bishop/TourismNewZealandWellington waterfront - weekend crowds relax on Wellington's inner city walkways

6. About 5 million people live in New Zealand (2021). New Zealand is about the size of Colorado/USA and bigger in land area than the UK. The largest city of New Zealand is called Auckland on North Island. Auckland has about 1.6 million inhabitants.

7. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between Māori chiefs and Great Britain. This treaty is recognised as the founding document of New Zealand. 

Interesting and fun facts about New Zealand

8. The indigenous people of New Zealand are the Māori people. Today, about 16.5% of the population are indigenous Māori and more than 60% are of European descent.

9. Many places in New Zealand carry Māori names. Porangahau just over an hour from Hawke’s Bay is home to the world's longest place name using the English alphabet. The place is called in the Māori language "Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu".

World's longest place name using the English alphabet The world's longest place name

10. The official languages of New Zealand are English, Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language. About 4% of the people in New Zealand speak Te Reo.

11. The most common greetings in the indigenous Māori language:

  • Kia ora - Hello
  • Morena - Good morning
  • Tēnā koe - Hello (more formal than kia ora)

Kia ora is a term that is also used to express appreciation and gratitude.

Geography Facts about New Zealand

12. Mount Ruhapeho is the tallest active volcano of New Zealand. It is located near Lake Taupo on North Island and is 2,979 m/ 9,177 ft tall. This is also the highest peak on North Island.

13. There are 18 peaks over 3,000 m/ 9,800 ft in height on South Island. The highest mountain of New Zealand is  Aoraki (Mount Cook) with 3,724 metres or 12 217 feet

Aoraki/Mount Cook is the highest mountain of New ZealandAoraki/ Mount Cook is the highest mountain

14. New Zealand lies on the Ring of Fire and the country experienced several earth quakes and volcano eruptions in recent years. The most active volcanoes are located on North Island. The Māori consider volcanoes sacred places. White Island is the largest active volcano in New Zealand.

15. New Zealand was once part of the super-continent in the Southern Hemisphere called Gondwana. About 85 million years ago New Zealand split from the enormous landmass and broke away from Australia and Antarctica.

More Facts about New Zealand for Kids

New Zealand's traditional cloak worn by Māori chiefs - image by textandtulip/shutterstock.comTraditional cloak worn by Māori chiefs

16. The Māori came from their mythical homeland of Hawaiki to settle on the islands more than 1,000 years ago.

17. The national symbols of New Zealand are the silver fern and the kiwi bird. Did you know that kiwi are flightless birds that are as big as a chicken? Find more facts about the kiwi here.

New Zealand Kiwi

18. The kiwi birds are important in Māori tradition. The feathers of the birds are used in the Māori cloak kahu kiwi that is worn on special occasions.

19. Māori culture is an important part of life in New Zealand. Many place names come from the Māori language, Marae are the meeting houses of the Māori, the haka is a famous dance and the hāngī is a typical Māori feast.

20. The 'Tiaki Promise': New Zealand invites all visitors to care for New Zealand as the locals do. Tiaki comes from the Māori language and means to care for people and places. Find out more about this pledge in the video (from New Zealand Tourism):

More Facts about New Zealand

21. New Zealand is home to some native fascinating birds. The kiwi is one of them, another bird, the kea, is known for attacking cars to steal some rubber of the windscreen wipers while the weka is known for his love of all things that are shiny. 

22. The tuatara is another unique animal that only exists in New Zealand, it is the world's only reptile with a beak. The other species in the same family died out over 65 million years ago! The moa was once the world's largest flightless bird, but this species is now extinct.

Tuatara reptile in New ZealandTuatara reptile in New Zealand

25. New Zealand has four distinct seasons. The weather though varies widely between the North and South Island. The North Island has a subtropical weather in summer, and the mountainous South Island has cold weather in winter. In general, temperatures are quite mild due to the fact that the coast is never far. 

23. The coastline of New Zealand is over 15,000 km/ 9,300 miles long and thus is the 9th longest in the world. New Zealand is a narrow shaped country and no place is further from the coast than 128 km/ 79 miles. 

24. National parks and nature reserves cover over 20% of New Zealand's land area. There are 13 national parks in New Zealand.

Tongariro National Park in New Zealand with Emerald lakesTongariro National Park in New Zealand with Emerald lakes

26. The Manuka tree is unique to New Zealand, although it now exists also in Australia though.

Honey bees gather nectar from the Manuka flowers and the flavoursome manuka honey as well as the manuka tea tree herbal oil from New Zealand are widely treasured. The honey is very precious as the manuka flowers only bloom a few weeks per year.

Manuka trees

Facts about New Zealand for Kids  Economy

27. New Zealand's currency is the New Zealand Dollar.

28. New Zealand is the world's leading whole milk powder exporter and among the top ten dairy producing countries worldwide! Most dairy farms are on North Island.   

29. China, Australia and the USA are the main trading partners of New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the member states of the Commonwealth of Nations.

New Zealand Hokey pokey ice-cream - yummy!Hokey pokey ice-cream - yummy!

30. The New Zealand cuisine is known for its roast lamb and sea food. Kahawai and mackerel are sustainable seafood choices. And don't miss to try a typical New Zealand 'barbie' (barbecue) or a traditional Māori hāngī meal. Last but not least, Hokey pokey is a popular dessert of vanilla ice cream with honeycomb.

Find more New Zealand Facts for Kids here

Facts about New Zealand Facts Resources

Sources for Facts about New Zealand page:

  • Department of Conservation."Mount Ruapehu." Visit Ruapehu. Last accessed 19 February 2021
  • Central Intelligence Agency. "New Zealand." World Fact Book. Last updated 16 February 2021. Last accessed 19 February 2021
  • New Zealand Tourism. "Discover Māori Culture in New Zealand." 100%PureNewZealand. Last accessed 19 February 2021
  • New Zealand Department for Conservation. "Tiaki. Care for New Zealand." TiakiNewZealandAssets. Last accessed 19 February 2021
  • Zealandia. "Activities & Resources." VisitZealandia. Last accessed 19 February 2021
  • United Nations. "Dairy Market Review 2019." FAO. March 2020. Last accessed 19 February 2021

Image Credits on Facts about New Zealand: photo stock from shutterstock and wikicommons, if not otherwise stated.

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