1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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?
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!
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. National parks and nature reserves cover over 20% of New Zealand’s land area. There are 13 national parks in New Zealand.
9. New Zealand’s currency is the New Zealand Dollar.
10. 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.