New Zealand Facts

New Zealand: Auckland, Maori, AorakiNew Zealand Facts: Auckland, Maori, Mount Aoraki

Interesting Facts for Kids

Here are some interesting New Zealand Facts which were chosen and researched by kids especially for kids.

Flag of New ZealandFlag of New Zealand
  • Name: New Zealand, named after the Dutch province of Zeeland, or Aotearoa (in Māori, meaning: land of the long white cloud)
  • Population: 5.2 million (2023)
  • Urban Population: 90%
  • Capital: Wellington with 420,000 people
  • Official Languages: English, Maori and Sign Language
  • Unemployment: 4%
  • Currency: 1 New Zealand Dollar NZ$ = 100 Cents
  • Religion: 48.6% no religion, 37.3% Christians
  • Timezones: 2
  • National Symbols: Silver fern (plant), kiwi (bird), black, white and red (colours)
  • National Holidays: 6 February (Waitangi Day) and 25 April (Anzac Day)
  • National Flag: The stars represent the constellation of the Southern Cross
  • National Anthem: God Defend New Zealand
  • History: New Zealand was first settled by the Maori people as early as 1300 AD. Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer, was the first European to discover the country in 1642 but never set foot on the island. British explorer James Cook arrived on North Island in 1769 and claimed the land for the British crown. The Maori claimed independence from Britain in 1835. In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori chiefs and Great Britain. This treaty is recognised as the founding document of New Zealand.
  • Prime Minister: Chris Hipkins (since January 2023)

New Zealand Facts |
Geography

New Zealand is a country in the Southern hemisphere and belongs to Oceania. New Zealand consists of two main islands: North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and South Island (Te Waipounamu). The islands are separated by the waters of the Cook Strait. South Island is the larger of the two islands and is the 12th largest island in the world! 

There are also about 600 smaller islands. The largest of these islands is Rakiura island, also referred to as Stewart Island. 

Map of New ZealandNew Zealand: Map of the two main islands and Stewart Island

New Zealand is surrounded by the South Pacific Ocean and lies to the Southeast of Australia. New Zealand lies on the Ring of Fire and there are numerous volcanos on North Island.

The country is roughly as big as the state of Colorado/USA or as Ecuador or as the UK and Switzerland combined.

New Zealand Wellington and red cable car - image by shutter stockWellington - capital city of New Zealand - is on North Island

The main cities in New Zealand are: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga. More than half of the population of New Zealand lives in these four cities. 

New Zealand Superlatives

  • The highest mountain of New Zealand is Aoraki, previously referred to as Mount Cook with 3,724 m or 12,217 ft. 
Lake Tekapo with Mount CookMount Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Lake Tekapo
  • New Zealand’s largest and longest glacier is the Tasman glacier in the Southern Alps.
  • Lake Taupo is the biggest lake of New Zealand. It is located on North Island. 
  • Pōhutu is New Zealand's largest geyser and the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere.
new zealand pohutu geyserPōhutu geyser in Rotorua
  • Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world.
  • New Zealand was the world's first country to grant women the right to vote - in 1893.
  • New Zealand and Denmark are the only countries to have two national anthems. In New Zealand, the national anthem 'God Defend New Zealand' often  replaces the anthem 'God Save the King'. Both anthems have equal status in New Zealand. And the Māori version of the New Zealand anthem is usually sung before the English version of the anthem.
  • New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first mountaineers to climb the world's highest summit Mount Everest in 1953.

New Zealand Facts
Attractions for Kids

There are many great attractions in New Zealand. Some of these are:

Auckland cityscape with Sky TowerAuckland cityscape
  • Auckland: the main business center of New Zealand not only spots the iconic landmark Sky Tower and a lively harbourfront but also has lovely beaches to explore nearby such as Takapuna Beach, which is located north of the city centre. And if you are in Auckland in March, make sure to visit the cultural performances of the Pasifika Festival.
Takapuna beach in AucklandTakapuna Beach in Auckland
  • Coromandel Peninsula: Cathedral Cove in Te Whanganui-A-Hei National Park is one of the famous landmarks in New Zealand. Make sure to visit the Hot Water Beach nearby as well. This is where hot water bubbles through the sand and you can dig your own spa pool on the beach. Read more about this fantastic family destination here.
Coromandel Cathedral Cove in New ZealandCoromandel's Cathedral Cove
  • Milford Sound: Fjordland National Park on South Island is most famous for the spectacular fjord called Milford Sound. This is also the only fjord that can be accessed by road.
Milford Sound in New ZealandMilford Sound
  • Rotorua: The town in the center of North Island is famous for its geothermal springs and sulphur pools. Wai-o-Tapu, also dubbed Thermal wonderland, is known for the bubbling spring waters, mud pools and geysers especially Lady Fox geyser that erupts every day and spits a huge fountain of water up to 20 m/ 65 ft in the air.
Rotorua Champagne Pool geyserChampagne Pool in Wai-o-tapu
  • Waitomo Caves: The region around Waitomo on North Island spots many caves, sinkholes and underwater rivers. The Waitomo caves are the most well-known attraction also for its magical  glowworm grotto. The name Waitomo refers to the Maori words for wai (water) and tomo (hole).
Waitomo Caves glowwormsGlow worm grotto of the Waitomo Caves
  • Hobbiton Movie Set: This location features in the 'Lord of Rings' movies. In fact, there are more than 150 locations of "Middle-Earth' in New Zealand that are shown in the movies of 'The Hobbit Trilogy' and 'Lord of Rings'. Read more about the film locations here.
Hobbiton: Hobbit holes - film locations in New Zealand - image by Martin Pelanek/shutterstockHobbiton: Hobbit holes - film locations in New Zealand
  • Christchurch: The largest city on South Island offers many great family attractions, too. Among them is the Antarctic Centre where you learn about the Antarctic explorers and can experience a simulated Antarctic cruise in a 4D theatre. Another interesting day out is a visit to Quake City in the Canterbury museum where you will learn about earth quakes and volcanic activity.
Christchurch with tramChristchurch's New Regent Street which was rebuilt after the 2011 earthquake

New Zealand Facts | People

New Zealand is one of the least densely populated countries in the world. North Island is more populated than South Island. 

Maori greeting ritual - image by Yevgen Belich/shutterstock.comMaori greeting ritual

Three out of four people live on North Island with most of the people living in New Zealand's largest city Auckland.

The majority of New Zealanders are of European descent and about 12% are of Asian origin and about 7% are peoples from the Pacific islands. 

New Zealand's first or indigenous people, are the Maori people. They make up about 15% of New Zealand's population today. Most of the Maori people live in the region of Rotorua. There you can visit traditional villages and attend Maori cultural performances.

Maori meeting place - image by GregWard/shutterstock.comMaori Meeting Place

English is the dominant language in New Zealand, only about 4% of the population speak the Maori language. Small groups of New Zealanders also speak Samoan, Hindi, Chinese or other languages as home language.

Among the most popular sports in New Zealand are soccer, cricket, tennis and rugby, which is the most popular spectator sport. The 'All Blacks' are New Zealand's famous rugby team. Their emblem is the silver fern, the national plant of New Zealand.

New Zealand Facts
New Zealand Economy

New Zealand's main economic sectors are agriculture, fishing and forestry, manufacturing and mining. The main natural resources include natural gas, coal, iron ore, silver and gold.

New Zealand gold mining in Waihi - image by Tomas Pavelka/shutterstock.comNew Zealand gold mining in Waihi

The main trading partners are China, Australia, the USA and Japan.

The main export products are dairy products and meats, fruits, wood and crude oil.

New Zealand is one of the member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. Among the main seaports are Auckland, Tauranga, Otago, Napier and Wellington.

New Zealand Facts | Animals

New Zealand is home to many animal species. Some marine animals and bats live only live in this country. 

Almost half of all whale and dolphin species are found in New Zealand. Whales such as sperm whales, killer whales and humpback whales as well as dolphins live in the Pacific Ocean off the New Zealand coastline.

New Zealand sperm whale flukeSperm Whale fluke

Sperm whales which are the largest toothed whale species can be seen all year round along the coast of Kaikoura, in the South East of South Island. Dolphins can best be watched in the Bay of Islands on North Island.

New Zealand Otago penguin sign - image by shutter stock.com

In New Zealand more penguin species can be found than in any other country.

The kiwi, a flightless bird, is one of New Zealand's national symbols.

New Zealand KiwiNew Zealand Kiwi

Read more about animals in New Zealand

animals in new zealand

Read on... more Facts about New Zealand

Read more New Zealand Facts on our new page - click here or on the image

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Image credits on New Zealand Facts: Shutterstock.com and own images

Resources | New Zealand Facts

Among the resources used for this New Zealand Facts page were the following:

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