With movies such as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia filming their fantasy scenes in New Zealand, this country has recently gained an increasing amount of recognition for its breathtaking sceneries and pristine landscapes. New Zealanders are known for their love of nature and adventure and will always show you a good time.

The country’s passion for rugby, which is an unofficial national sport, is also well-renowned, while some wines and delicious dishes have definitely already crossed international borders. However, this is a country that not many know about and is still waiting to be discovered in all its splendour and unicity. Let us look at some of the lesser known facts about New Zealand:

1. A Bit of Volcanic Excitement

New Zealand is actually part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the area with the most earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on the entire globe. The country does have three active volcanoes that must be addressed with caution: White Island (Whakaari), Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. The last eruption occurred  in 2012, when Mount Tongariro spewed ashes on the nearby dwellings.

2. Deep Respect for Personal Roots

There are currently half a million Maori people living in New Zealand. They are indigenous people who settled in the country some ten centuries ago, naming it Aotearoa, or in plain English, Land of the Long White Cloud. The authorities in New Zealand are doing everything in their power to preserve Maori traditions and to integrate them in the current cultural environment. This is why the Maori language is one of New Zealand’s three official languages, along with English and New Zealand Sign Language.

3. Superb Crater Lake for Family Outings

The Great Lake Taupo has rightly earned its name thanks to the impressively large crater that hosts it. The lake is the size of Singapore Island and will undoubtedly add even more magic to your New Zealand road trips.

4. A Dash of Britishness

It is the only country in the world that has two national anthems. Although ‘God save the Queen’ is just as famous, New Zealanders mostly use now ‘God Defend New Zealand’, whose first verse is usually sang both in English and Maori.

5. The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire

Ever since 1952 New Zealand’s Head of State has been Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented locally by a Governor General. Her last visit was in 2011, when special events were planned in order to greet her cheerfully.

6. It’s All about Location

Wellington has officially been named the southernmost capital city on the globe so if you get the tingles when it comes to Guinness facts, you should definitely check this city off your list when traveling to New Zealand.

7. A Love of Birds

The country’s national symbol is a flightless bird, named kiwi, which incidentally gave New Zealanders the namesake nickname that can be used internationally to introduce them. By all means, they too use it in reference to themselves and find it very endearing.

As a traveler, it always pays to go off the beaten track and discover things that are unheard of by the great masses. New Zealand is a country that has plenty to offer, together with its inhabitants who never make it a point to flaunt their gorgeous country. Prepare for endless adventure, wallpaper-like views and hospitality that knows no boundaries.

Published by Andre Smith