New Zealand Facts for Kids | Facts About New Zealand

Have you been wondering about New Zealand? We have done all the hard work for you and pulled together all the fun facts about New Zealand. Looking for fun facts about other countries? Make sure you check out all our other places fun facts here.

Here are some of the top things you need to know about this magical country:

  • New Zealand actually has two names – New Zealand in English and Aotearoa in Maori language, meaning land of the long white cloud.
  • There are three official languages of New Zealand – English, Maori and sign language.
  • New Zealand has the world’s steepest street and the world’s longest place name!

Where is New Zealand?

New Zealand is a country in the Southern Hemisphere that is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. There are two main islands (the North Island and the South Island) however the entire country is made up of around 600 islands altogether! 

How many people live in New Zealand?

New Zealand's population is about 5 million and about 15 percent of which are the Maori people

There are around five million people living in New Zealand, with around 75% of these people living on the North Island. It is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

The capital city of New Zealand is Wellington, located on the North Island. Wellington is actually the most southern national capital city in the world.

The biggest city in New Zealand is Auckland with 1,600,000 people, followed by Wellington and Christchurch. 

Around 15% of the population are Maori or indigenous people. 

How big is New Zealand?

New Zealand is long and narrow. From north to south it is approximately 1,600km and from east to west it is 400km. The total area is just over 260,000km².

What languages are spoken in New Zealand?

There are three official languages of New Zealand – English, Maori and sign language. Sometimes people who come from New Zealand are called Kiwis, after the New Zealand Kiwi bird.

New Zealand also has two national anthems.

Ta Moko

Ta Moko means tattoo in the Maori language and it is quite common to see both men and women with tattoos in New Zealand, including face tattoos. Having a face tattoo is culturally significant and can show rank, status and prestige.


The Incredible Aoraki, New Zealand's Highest peak

Many of the country’s geographical features are due to volcanoes! There are 24 volcanoes that have been active in the last 11,700 years.

New Zealand is known for its mountains and glaciers. The highest mountain is Aoraki, previously referred to as Mount Cook with a height of 3,724m. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to summit Mount Everest (the highest mountain in the world) was from New Zealand. 

The Tasman Glacier is the largest glacier in New Zealand and is on the South Island. A glacier is a slow moving body of ice, like a slow moving ice river.

The biggest lake is Lake Taupo on the North Island and is around the size of Singapore. You can see Maori rock carvings if you go on a boat trip on the lake.

Rotorua is a town on the North Island known for geothermal hot springs. You can see geysers, bath in mud pools and see hot springs. Because of this, there is a very strong smell of sulphur (like rotten eggs) in the air.

Learn more about New Zealand’s Geography with these books and guides!

Women’s Suffrage

New Zealand was the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote, back in 1893. This was long before many other countries. 

What foods are popular?

Fresh seafood is popular in New Zealand due to it being surrounded by water! Lamb is also a popular meat as there are so many sheep in the country.

A Maori Hangi is a traditional style of cooking where the food is cooked in an earth oven dug into the ground.

A traditional dessert in New Zealand is a pavlova, made with meringue and whipped cream and often covered in fruit. Yum!

Feijoas and kiwis (the fruit, not the bird!) are common fruits found in New Zealand, as well as many types of apples.

What animals call New Zealand home?

The Kiwi, a small flightless bird with long beaks, one of New Zealand's famous bird and symbol

New Zealand is home to many birds, with the most famous one being the Kiwi. This is a small flightless bird that is covered in feathers and is in danger of extinction. It is a symbol of New Zealand. 

You can also find other marine creatures like fur seals, sea lions and even Hector dolphins, the smallest dolphins in the world. 

Sperm whales can be seen off the South Island, the only place in the world they can be found. Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and have the largest brain of any living animal!

Blue penguins are the world’s smallest penguin and stand around 30cm tall and can be found in New Zealand.

Sheep are also common, outnumbering the population 5:1! Sheep farming is a big industry in New Zealand and New Zealand is one of the biggest sheep exporters in the world.

Check out these cuddly sheep plush toys here.

Popular sports in New Zealand

Because New Zealand is a part of the Commonwealth, many British sports are common including cricket, soccer, rugby league, netball and basketball. The most common spectator sport is rugby union where New Zealand have a very strong national team called The All Blacks.

The town of Queenstown on the South Island is a popular spot for adventure and adrenaline sports. Here you can do activities such as skiing, bungee jumping, jet boating, skydiving, canyon swinging, horse trekking, rafting and cycling. 

Cool things to see and do

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

In the Waitomo Glowworm Caves you can take a boat tour through an ancient cave and see thousands of glowworms lighting up the darkness! This cave is unique as this is the only place in the world where you can see this species of glowworm.

Hobbiton Movie Set

Visit the Hobbiton Movie Set and see where movies like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy were partially filmed. These movies were also directed by Sir Peter Jackson, a famous New Zealand director.

Visit Ninety Mile Beach

Ninety Mile Beach is a long strip of beach near the very top of the North Island where you can actually see cars driving on the beach (it’s officially a highway!). You can also go body boarding down the sand dunes there.

Some last minute fun facts:

  • The steepest street in the world is Baldwin Street in Dunedin on the South Island, with a gradient of 34.8 degrees. That’s steep!
  • Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu is the name of a hill on the east coast of New Zealand is the longest place name in the world! It translates to “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘landeater’, played his flute to his loved one.”
  • New Zealand has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world!
  • No matter where you are in New Zealand you will never be more than 130 km from the sea.
  • There are no snakes in New Zealand!

That’s a big list! Hopefully we have covered all the fun facts about New Zealand for you. 

If you are interested in learning more about Maori culture, make sure you check out these books here

Places facts for kids

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Janine Mergler

Janine has a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) from the Queensland University of Technology and works as an editor of the popular Families Magazine. When she is not writing, proofing or creating content on social media, Janine spends her time travelling the world with her son and planning her travels with her son. She has visited over 50 countries which means she can collect and write fun facts about people, the countries they live in and animals she encounters as well as the way they are interconnected.

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