Mysteries Of The Land Of The Long White Cloud

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New Zealand, a green oasis, is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, 2000 km from Australia, and consists of two large and several smaller islands. Aotearoa is the Maori name for this Pacific jewel, translating to “land of the long white cloud”.

Apart from its record beauty, New Zealand is home to numerous unique wildlife species and is said to have more ethnicities that there are countries in the world!

Here are 16 intriguing facts about the sea bird capital of the world.

Fact 1: Try to pronounce this! The place with the longest name in the world is a hill in New Zealand only 305 meters high. The name:  Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu in Maori means “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one”. Since the 85 letter name is almost impossible to pronounce, people often call it Taumata.

Fact 2: New Zealand is home to Middle-Earth. Because of its spectacular nature and green sceneries, Peter Jackson picked New Zealand as the setting of the Lord of The Rings and the Hobbit trilogies calling it “the perfect Middle-Earth”.

Fact 3: New Zealand’s population is only 5% human! The rest are animals. It is the only country in the world with this amazing ratio of humans to animals.

Fact 4: New Zealand is the world leader in numerous categories. Its Frying Pan Lake is the world’s largest hot water spring where temperatures reach 200 degrees Celsius.

Fact 5: Mozzarella Cheese, widely known as an Italian specialty, is actually made in New Zealand! Italian cheese makers, settled in New Zealand, produce Mozzarella and Ricotta cheese right from the heart of New Zealand.

Fact 6: According to The Corruption Perceptions Index, New Zealand is the 2nd least corrupt nation in the world, trailing closely behind Denmark.

Fact 7: New Zealand has no terrestrial snakes! Due to its tropical climate, it is home to two species of sea snakes, which are both very venomous.

Fact 8: New Zealand is home to the steepest street in the world, The Baldwin Street, located in Dunedin. Its steepest section has a gradient of 1 in 2.86, a 19 degrees or 35 percent grade, while the incline is 161.2 meters in length.

Fact 9: In the early 1980’s New Zealand was home to over 70 million sheep! By 2013 this number sunk to 31 million, this means there are approximately 7 sheep to 1 man.

Fact 10: New Zealand is the country with one of the highest car ownership rates. There are 2.5 million cars and a little over 4 million people.

Fact 11: Bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand.

Fact 12: Wherever you might be in New Zealand you are always a car-ride from the ocean, no further than 128 km to be exact! The country has a total of 15, 811 km of coastline.

Fact 13: Kiwi Nancy Wake, nicknamed “The White Mouse”, won more WWII medals that any other woman in the world. Wake lived in Paris, where she worked as a journalist and joined the French Resistance when the war broke out. She helped Jews escape from the grips of the German army and later trained as a spy. The Nazi’s named her “White Mouse” and placed her on the wanted list in 1943. She allegedly killed a SS soldier in a face-to-face combat.

Fact 14:  New Zealand is home to one of the largest insect species in the world, the giant weta – Deinacrida heteracantha. It looks like an immense cockroach and weighs 71 grams.

Fact 15: New Zealanders were nicknamed ‘Kiwis’ by Australian soldiers in the First World War. Kiwi, a bird unique to New Zealand, has become the country’s national icon and unofficial emblem.

Fact 16: New Zealand has topped the Social Progress Index that ranks countries by social and environmental performance, rather than political and economic factors. New Zealand received top scores for personal rights and freedom, internet access and school enrollment.

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