New Zealand is a pretty famous country, known around the world for things such as the kiwi bird, rugby, powerful haka dances, active volcanoes (which you can visit), sandy beaches and much more; and although it is known for all this, there are a ton of facts that still remain unearthed. So, here’s a list of 5 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Polynesian island-
1. Now, New Zealand is the modern English name by which it is known all over the world but in Maori (language of the indigenous population of New Zealand) culture, it is known as ‘Aotearoa’ which means ‘land of the long white cloud’. There are many stories linked to the origin of this name – according to history, Polynesian navigators found land by following a series of cloud patterns.These patterns were, you guessed it, long and white. And said long, white clouds guided them to a mass of land, present day New Zealand, which they called the ‘land of the long white cloud’. Another story, that is especially popular with tourists is that the horizon in New Zealand is covered in streaks of long and white clouds; and whoever first saw the New Zealand horizon must have been so enamoured by it that they thought of naming an entire nation after it.
We don’t blame them, though. New Zealand is pretty enamouring…
2. Apart from Aotearoa, another name in Maori language that is of importance to New Zealand is –
No, we are not making this up! This is the name of a hill in Hawke’s Bay and with 85 characters, it is the longest name of a place in New Zealand and undoubtedly one of the longest in the world. Locals have simply given it the name Taumata Hill. Legend says that the name comes from the story of a warrior named Tamatea, who lost his brother in battle. Overcome with grief, he sat on the hill and played his flute, remembering his deceased brother.
A sign board is put up with the name written on it – try pronouncing the name and let us know if you were able to!
3. While these two above-mentioned facts might be interesting to all the history buffs out there, for all you adventure seekers, we have got a fun fact as well. Bungy jumping, one of the most thrilling adventure sports in the world, finds its origins in New Zealand. Inspired by a ritual known as ‘land diving’, the sport was commercialised in the 1980s by AJ Hackett. The world’s first commercial bungy site was opened in March 1988 at Ohakune, NZ. Today, thanks to AJ Hackett, bungy jumping in New Zealand attracts thousands of people from all over the world – because who would want to miss out from taking a (literal) leap of faith while being surrounded by the beauty of nature?
4. Every country takes pride in its biodiversity – it is an important part of its culture and history and also plays a pivotal role in boosting tourism. And when it comes to protecting its biodiversity, New Zealand is in a league of its own. Given the fact that it is home to tiny insects, colossal glaciers and volcanoes and everything in between, the country has protected more than 10,000 areas, accounting for almost 32% of its total land.
And because of the protection, the stunning landscape of New Zealand stays untouched; it is every traveler’s delight as it makes for some very instagrammable photos!
5. New Zealand is no stranger when it comes to things like nature, culture, history, adventure sports etc. but at the same time, it is no stranger when it comes to women’s rights. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote (1893). If you see a $10 note in New Zealand, there’s a photo of a woman on it; it is none other than Kate Sheppard, a pioneer of leading the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand.
New Zealand, to put it simply, is pretty amazing. It has protected its nature and kept it alive, it embraces its Maori culture – it’s a country which has always been ahead of its time. But there is so much more to this island. And there’s only one way to find out – by visiting it!