New Zealand appears to be pretty small on the map, however our vast landscape would surprise many. We hold a range of impressive geographical accomplishments. Check them out below!
First Country to see the Sun
Although Samoa is closer to the international date line, due to the spherical shape of the earth, East Cape in Gisborne holds the honour of seeing the first light of the day. As a result, attendees of Rhythm & Vines, the largest New Year's music festival in the country, held in Gisborne are the first to see the sunrise in the New Year!
First Sunrise of 2020, East Cape, Gisborne
Clearest Lake in the World
Rotomairewhenua or Blue Lake holds the title for the world's clearest lake. Scientifically proven in 2011, Blue Lake was declared the clearest natural body of fresh water known to man. According to these results, the lake has up to 80 metres (262ft) of optical clarity. To put that into perspective, Blue Lake is nearly as clear as distilled water.
Rotomairewhenua or Blue Lake, Nelson Lakes National Park
3rd Largest Living Tree in the World
Tāne Mahuta, named after the Māori God of the Forest, is a giant Kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest in Northland. Standing 45.2m (148 ft) high, the exact age of Tāne Mahuta is unknown, but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old, meaning that it's been around since before people first arrived in New Zealand! It is the 3rd largest living tree in the world and, the largest living outside of California.
Tāne Mahuta, Waipoua Kauri Forest, Northland
No Place in New Zealand is more than 128km from the Sea
No matter where you are in New Zealand, you can never be more than 128km away from the sea. The furthest inland point is near the Central Otago town, Cromwell.
Matapouri Beach, Northland
Longest Place Name in the World
Care to venture a guess of how you pronounce that? The name was given to a hill near Porangahau, in southern Hawke's Bay. The hill is 305 metres high.
It roughly translates to mean "The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his kōauau (flute) to his loved one." Daenerys who?
Last Habitable Land Mass to be Populated in the World
It is estimated humans settled in New Zealand sometime between 800 and 1200 A.D. from Hawaiki. This makes New Zealand the last major landmass to be settled.
The first Māori settlers arriving, Image credit: TimeToast
Tallest Freestanding Structure in the Southern Hemisphere
Built in 1997 and standing at 328m, Auckland's Sky Tower is a telecommunications tower with an observation deck at 186m (610ft). It is currently 28th tallest in the world. You can even Skyjump off it on guiding wires!
Heaviest Insect in the World
New Zealand's very own Giant Weta is the worlds heaviest insect. Often described to look like a giant grasshopper, the Giant Weta is heavier than a sparrow and is known to weigh more than 70 grams. No need to worry though, Giant Wetas aren't poisonous or venomous, and are extremely harmless, with only the rare bite occurring every now and then. After all, this isn't Australia...
Image credit: Reddit
Second Steepest Residential Street in the World
After holding the record for some 32 years, Baldwin Street in Dunedin is now the second steepest residential street in the world. The street has a gradient of 1:2.86 meaning, for every 1m traveled up or down, 2.86 was travelled horizontally.
World's Largest Known Volcanic Eruption in the Last 70,000 years
Lake Taupo is said to be the source of the world’s largest known volcanic eruption in the last 70,000 years. Known as the Oruanui eruption, the explosion sent volcanic rock up to Auckland, and it is claimed the ash even covered modern-day China.
Highest Animal to Human Ratio in the World
New Zealand has one of the highest animal to human ratios in the world. Of all living animals in New Zealand, only 5% are human. Part of the reason for this is that New Zealand has such a low population density, ranking 167th out of 194.
A pair of Kea's (Alpine Parrot) in Arthurs Pass National Park, Canterbury
More than 1/3 of the Country is Protected Land or Marine Area
Approxemately one third of the country is protected land or marine area. New Zealand is known for its beautiful landscape and nature, this is partly because the country has 14 national parks, 3 of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 33 marine reserves.
Tongariro National Park, 1 of the 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in New Zealand
TripAdvisor's Top Travel Destination in the World
In 2008, TripAdvisor named Milford Sound the world's top travel destination based on a survey of international travellers. In the same year, Queenstown came in 2nd, claiming the worlds top two travel destinations.
Mitre Peak, Milford Sound
Youngest Geothermal System in the World
On the 10th of June 1886, Mt. Tarawera erupted, burying the famous Pink and White terraces and tearing a 17km long crater through the earth. As a result, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the youngest geothermal system in the world was created.
Find out more about New Zealand's original tourist, Lake Rotomahana's Pink and White terraces.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Lake Rotomahana, Rotorua
Furthest South and Most Remote Capital in the World
New Zealand's capital is located in the centre of the country, at the bottom of the North Island in Wellington. It is the southernmost capital in the world, and shares the title of most remote capital with our neighbours Australia, who's capital is Canberra.
Fun fact, Wellington is also the windiest city in the world by average wind speed (29.6km/h or 18.4mph annually).
The Beehive, New Zealand's Parliment Building, Wellington
A Few More Fun Facts!
The northernmost point of the North Island is North Cape, however, it's only accessible by hike. Instead, you can drive to Cape Reinga and check out the famous lighthouse and meeting of the seas.
At the opposite end of the country, the southernmost point of the South Island is Slope Point. However, Bluff is more commonly referred to as the 'bottom of the South Island' and very famous for its oysters!
The highest point in New Zealand is Aoraki also known as Mount Cook. Rising 3,724m high, it's located in the Southern Alps of the South Island. Although the mountain itself is quite the challenge, the national park area is quite a popular tourist destination.