What do you think of when you think of New Zealand? For most people their first answer is sheep, lots and lots and lots of sheep. And it’s true. Statistically speaking, there are more sheep in the country than there are people, but New Zealand offers so much more. Do you want some city life and country life? Some adrenaline-pumping adventures? Views you can only get in that part of the world? Sheeps and their wool may be a huge part of the country’s economy, but there’s a whole lot more good to New Zealand than just the baaa-d.
1. First of all New Zealand is not a part of Australia.
New Zealand is its own country, south east of Australia. It is commonly divided up in terms of its North Island and South Island. The people are called Kiwis (which is also the name for the country’s national bird), and no, they do not have Australian accents. And for the record, if you’ve seen the end of Wall of Wall Street, those aren’t New Zealand accents either.
2. And while most of you might think this is New Zealand:
This picture was taken in the Fiordland National Park in New Zealand’s South Island. If you ever want some breathtaking landscapes, this is the place to be. But pack some sturdy shoes because wherever you go (whether here or any other part of the country), there is bound to be a hiking trail.
3. It’s also this:
Hahei is a little town on the east coast of New Zealand. In between Cathedral Cove and the Hot Water Beach – a place where you can dig your own hot tub – it’s the perfect getaway. Even during the country’s winter season (because no, it’s not that cold)!
4. And this:
Auckland isn’t the New Zealand’s capital city (that title belongs to Wellington), but it is definitely its biggest city. About half of New Zealand’s population lives here. And yes, the city has cars (they drive on the left) and North American TV shows and fast food franchises – like Starbucks and Burger King.
5. It is also home to Hobbiton.
Nestled in the town of Matamata, in New Zealand’s North Island, a 12-acre farm was magically transformed into the Shire from the world of Peter Jackson. While the original Hobbiton set was torn down after the Lord of the Rings movies, locals asked the production crew to make the set a permanent structure after the Hobbit movies were filmed.
Now locals and tourists alike can tour the set. While there may not be any hobbits running around, every other detail – like loaves of bread, flowers, vegetable patches, and clotheslines – is still intact. The location even has the Green Dragon pub where you can partake in some good old Hobbit-beer for Elevensies or Afternoon Tea or even Supper and Dinner. Fun fact: the farmer who owns the land had no idea what the Lord of the Rings was when scouts came to ask him if they could film there. Today, he’s officially a millionaire.
6. And on occasion, it’s the gateway to Narnia.
Remember how the Pevensies got to Narnia during the film Narnia:Prince Caspian? Something along the lines of a train station tunnel turning into a cave that opened up to a beautiful beach? Well, this is that location: one of New Zealand’s hidden gems, Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel Peninsula. Some local tours also have kayaking options where you can paddle up the coastline to the cove. But make sure to visit at the right time, because once high tide comes, the inside of the cave gets filled up pretty fast.
7. New Zealand is also the land of adrenaline junkies!
Whether it’s skydiving, rafting, caving, paragliding or bungy jumping, people will find this country is nothing short of fun. Queenstown – in the South Island – is not only New Zealand’s adventure capital, but also the world’s. It’s in this ski town where those craving some action can do the country’s highest bungy jump at 134 m. high!
8. But if you like your feet on the ground, the country also boasts some award-winning beer!
Speights Brewery, in Dunedin, is known for its Gold Medal Pale Ale – a popular choice, after it won the Melbourne Exhibit in 1880.
9. But, if there’s one thing the country really boasts it’s rugby.
The New Zealand All-Blacks are four time champions. And they rarely, if ever, lose a game. They’re also well known for opening each game with the traditional Maori Haka dance.
(Side note: Maori people are New Zealand’s aboriginals and their culture can be heavily seen in the country. Most streets, cities, and landscapes have Maori names instead of brand new English ones.)
What do you think of New Zealand now? Would you choose to go?
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