By this point everyone knows that New Zealand is a top destination for road trips due to the amazing scenery, the abundance of outdoor activities, and the overall laid back nature of the people and country as a whole. If all that wasn’t enough, there are a wide range of facts about this diverse and beautiful country that have slipped popular knowledge. So before you load up your campervan hire and hit the road in New Zealand, make sure you take these ten surprising New Zealand facts into account.
- New Zealand was originally a part of New South Wales but declared its independence when Australia was federated in 1901. Although New Zealand was originally offered a place within Australia, it instead declared its independence and has no ties to Australian governing. This greatly illustrates the fierce and independent nature that makes New Zealand such a beloved destination for travelers.
- In keeping with its history of progressive politics and forward-thinking policies, New Zealand was the first nation to allow for female voters all the way back in 1893. NZ has long been known as an accepting and fair country, making it a joy to travel in.
- Although the normal folklore is that the notorious Captain Cook was the first to discover New Zealand, the real fact is that the island was initially discovered by Dutch sailor Abel Tasman, after who the famous island of Tasmania was named. Make sure to make a pilgrimage to Tasmania during your journey so that you can pay homage to this great explorer. For any Captain Cook fans out there, you will be pleased to know that it was indeed Captain Cook who first mapped out the island. This rich and colorful history is perfectly fitting for such a rich and colorful country.
- The native bird of New Zealand is the Moa. This is officially one of the largest birds that ever existed, with many of the majestic birds standing up to twelve feet tall. Although now extinct, New Zealand continues to carry on their name as their national bird, and there are many facets of the native wildlife that are just as rare and majestic located in this incredible country.
- New Zealand is so remote and unspoiled that it was actually the very last landmass other than the polar regions to be populated. You can feel this isolation even today in the miles and miles of scenic wilderness that cover the island. This remoteness is key to some of the main draws that travelers love when it comes to New Zealand, including undeveloped wild beaches, free camping, and an ancient feel that is different from anywhere on Earth.
- The island was first settled by the Maori and Moriori tribes. These natives were known for their peaceful pacifism, their rich traditional arts, and for having first settled in this remote and beautiful land. Although the last of these tribes died in 1933, you can still feel the original pioneering vibe on this vast island and they are celebrated and respected by New Zealanders to this day.
- Anyone traveling through New Zealand should definitely stop by Lake Taupo, where the largest known volcanic explosion of the past 70 thousand years took place. Not only is this area incredibly beautiful, but this added historical element will be sure to add a little spice to your visit.
- One of the top trades in New Zealand is the sheep business. As a matter of fact, there are almost ten sheep for every one New Zealander on the island. With a total population of four million, that is certainly a lot of sheep. You will understand this once you get out on the New Zealand roadways and see all the sheep grazing in fields throughout your journey.
- The capital city of Wellington is the southernmost city in the world. Of course this isn’t the only reason you will want to visit the capital. Wellington offers an urban setting full of great food, nightlife, and shopping. After driving through the wilderness on other parts of the island, this will be a nice change of pace.
- New Zealand is known to be one of the most plastic friendly countries in the world. This nation was one of the first to accept widespread use of debit and credit cards as opposed to cash, and pretty much all stores, restaurants, and taxi services accept and prefer cards for payment. This makes traveling in NZ easy and safe since you won’t have to travel with a surplus of cash on your person. All you need is your credit card and you will be able to get anything you need.
Keep these aspects in mind when you’ve made your decision to take a road trip in New Zealand.