If you’re one of the millions considering visiting New Zealand following its sudden surge of popularity, then you’ve probably done a lot of research.
But aside from stunning surroundings, death defying extreme sports and just sheer amazement all around, just how much do you know about New Zealand?
Here are 10 facts you may not know about the country everyone wants to visit.
- Only one mammal?
Did you know New Zealand has no natural four legged mammals? Well now you do, because before settlers started arriving and bringing their own animals along for the ride, the only indigenous mammal was a bat, the size of your thumb. In fact most of the country’s native animals come in the shape of birds.
- No big predators
Now, many think of New Zealand as the little brother or sister of Australia, but New Zealand has a slight edge in the fact it’s pretty much predator free. Where you’ll read stories of alligators and snakes battling it out in the Land of Oz, there are no snakes, bears, wolves or cougars etc. in New Zealand, making exploring the wilderness a little less terrifying.
- Killer snail
That being said, there is a giant carnivorous albino snail living in New Zealand. It probably sounds a little scarier than it is, because let’s face it, giant killer snails aren’t the best. However, as it’s a snail the chances of this meat eater ever catching you, are pretty remote.
- More animals than humans
With all this talk of animals, we should mention humans are actually the minority in New Zealand. That’s right; only 5% of the population aren’t animals, with roughly 4 million humans wandering the country; which means that’s more than 70 million animals.
- Lots of sheep
When it comes to animals in abundance, then you need to take a look at the sheep. This shouldn’t be difficult as there’s roughly 40 million in New Zealand, which is down from a 70 million a few years back. Given the population size, that’s 10 sheep per person, and you thought Wales had a lot of sheep.
- Mostly submerged
All things considered, New Zealand isn’t actually that big when you compare it to other countries. However, it would appear New Zealand is actually part of a much bigger continent known as Zealandia, which is 93% submerged into the ocean – thus the remaining 7% is the New Zealand we know and love.
- Always close to the sea
Maybe it’s because it’s mostly submerged, but when you’re visiting New Zealand, you’re never far away from taking a quick dip in the sea. In fact, no matter where you are you’ll never be more than 128km from the sea; which is just less than 80 miles if you’re wondering.
- Magical clock
Now this is a bit of a weird one, but sitting on the third floor, in the lift foyer of the Physics Department, at the University of Otago is a clock. This may not sound odd, but the device is still running, despite not being manually wound since its construction in 1864.
- Women in power
New Zealand is a very forward thinking place, not only did it legalize same sex marriage (civil unions) back in 2003, but it was the first country to have its three top positions of power held by women simultaneously: The Prime Minister (Helen Clark), the Governor General (Dame Silvia Cartwright), and the Chief Justice (Sian Elias).
10. More magic
Not actual magic, but stick with us. Long before Lord of the Rings, New Zealand actually became the first country in the modern world to appoint an official wizard in 1990. This may sound like a joke but it’s really not, and we have no idea what the official wizard job entailed; guarding a ring perhaps?