What is New Zealand Famous For? 11 Things That Make NZ Unique

New Zealand is one of those far-flung destinations that everyone dreams of visiting at least once in their lives.

What is New Zealand Famous For?

New Zealand is famous for its ‘All Blacks’ rugby team, its indigenous Maori culture and its stunning landscape. New Zealand is also known for being the filming location of ‘The Lord of the Rings’, extreme sports (bungee jumping started here) and it’s amazing foods such as kiwi fruit, lamb and dairy.

Read on to discover the things that we think New Zealand is most well-known for and why should you visit.

1. Stunning Landscapes

well known fjords of New Zealand.

One of the main reasons people want to visit New Zealand is because they’ve seen pictures online or in magazines of the stunning scenery that New Zealand is blessed with. From towering snow-capped peaks and pristine lakes, to beaches, waterfalls, glaciers and caves, New Zealand really does boast some of the best landscapes in the world!
Not only this, but they make it accessible to visit and appreciate the landscapes, with some epic hiking trails, well-preserved National Parks, remote campsites and even organised tours that take you off the beaten track rather than just ferrying you from city to site.

Whether you choose to explore Milford Sound, Abel Tasman National Park, the Coromandel or opt to walk the Tongariro Crossing, you’re sure to have an experience in nature to remember!

2. Outdoor Activities

If you’re into extreme sports and wild outdoor activities, then it’s probably likely that New Zealand is firmly on your bucket list.

This crazy country has long been a front-runner in outdoor adventure pursuits, with the first commercial bungy jumping outlet, AJ Hackett, opening here in the late 1980s. Since then, thousands have flocked to New Zealand to take part in bungy jumping, sky-diving, zip-lining, zorbing and canyon swinging, to name but a few!

Even if you don’t fancy jumping off a bridge or cliff, you can still get your heart racing with the likes of a Shotover Jet ride or some white-water rafting. These activities allow you to take in the aforementioned spectacular scenery while still thrill-seeking as you go.

For those who prefer things at a calmer pace, New Zealand offers luging (a form of gravity-powered go-karting), caving and lots of hiking so you can take things at your own pace.

3. The Lord Of The Rings

Ever since it was revealed that the world-famous Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in New Zealand (by Kiwi director, Peter Jackson), the country has had an influx of LOTR-based tourism. Visitors can discover the sites of Rivendell, the Fangorn Forest, Gandalf’s ride and even Mount Doom or simply choose to explore The Shire at the dedicated Hobbiton movie set.

The set, located in Matamata on the North Island, allows you to learn about the making of the film, walking through Middle Earth, stopping to take a photo of you by the famous Hobbit Hole doors and even popping into the Green Dragon Inn. There you will be presented with a complimentary, exclusive Hobbit Southfarthing drink. This really is a must for any Lord of the Rings fan and will be a day trip to tell the grandkids about!

4. Campervan Road Trips

One of the ways in which many travellers choose to discover New Zealand is by campervan, giving them the flexibility and freedom to move around the country as they please, stopping whenever something takes their fancy. This is a great way to explore the country as there are so many little detours you can take that offer incredible views or walking trails that will make your trip unique.

As New Zealand has such a small population (and the majority live in Auckland), the roads around the country are pretty empty, which makes your road trip peaceful, safe and hassle-free.

New Zealand also has a number of fantastic campsites with breath-taking locations next to lakes and mountains, so when you’re cosying up around a campfire with a view you won’t mind not being tucked up in a plush hotel room!

5. Maori Culture

The Maori are the indigenous people, or Tangata Whenua, of New Zealand who have lived on the island, also known as Aotearoa, for centuries. Maori culture is rich in tradition, much of which is still retained, displayed and celebrated today within New Zealand society.

Maori traditions include strong family bonds, legendary storytelling, unique dress and performance art which incorporates singing, dancing and animated facial expressions. When visiting New Zealand, you can enjoy a slice of Maori culture by attending a Maori village where you will watch traditional dances, eat Maori food (cooked in a hangi, an underground hot stone oven) and learn about the meaning of Maori body art.

6. Sheep

New Zealand is thought to have around six times the number of sheep as it does people, which is why people often joke about sheep being the thing the country is most famous for. Don’t be surprised if you hear a joke or two about New Zealanders and sheep too!

While road-tripping through the country you’re bound to drive past fields and fields of free-roaming sheep, and you may even stumble across a sheep-shearing contest or fair which are somewhat strange pastimes and tourist attractions!

While the sheep are very cute alive, they’re also known for being pretty tasty (sorry sheep!) which is why New Zealand is famed for its lamb production and export. Of course, you could just pop to the supermarket to pick up some New Zealand lamb, but there’s something nice about eating local produce from a source you can trust.

7. Wine

wine in new zealand

Along with its export of lamb, New Zealand is also famed for its wine production from places such as Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay. As New Zealand is such a slim country – no wine region is further than 120km/80 miles from the sea – it has a blissful maritime climate that is perfect for producing an array of sumptuous wines that are now known and loved all over the world.

If you’re a wine connoisseur, it would be improper to go to New Zealand and not visit a vineyard or two (at least!) to test out your sommelier nose and palette! Whether you enjoy a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir or prefer a Canterbury Chardonnay, there’s sure to be a winery that will tickle your taste buds!

8. Rugby

The New Zealand rugby union team, the ‘All Blacks‘, are probably the most famous rugby team in the entire world. Regardless of whether you love them or hate them, you can’t deny their impeccable ball skills and their ability to both charm and terrify the crowd in equal measure with their pre-match Haka (a traditional Mauri war dance which is used to intimidate the enemy).

The whole of the country loves to play and watch rugby, and it’s not surprising when you learn that every primary school has its own rugby pitch and the game is played from a young age.
If you get a chance while visiting New Zealand to see the All Blacks play, try to get tickets, or at the very least head to a local sports bar, as the atmosphere is bound to be electric!

9. Kiwis (all three)

The world kiwi can be used fairly interchangeably in New Zealand depending on whether you are referring to the bird or the people in general, but not, it must be pointed out, when you are talking about the fruit. Kiwis actually call it a kiwifruit, so as not to confuse it with their national bird, the endangered, flightless kiwi bird.

If you can, you should try to interact with all three kiwis during your trip to New Zealand, trying the fruit on home soil, soaking up the culture of Aotearoa with the locals, and also trying the fruit while it’s on home soil

10. Wild Dolphins

akaroa-new-zealand dophins swim

If you’re looking for an unforgettable natural world experience in New Zealand, look no further than swimming with wild dolphins off the coast of the South Island at Kaikoura. This wonderful marine experience allows you to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures while they are relaxed and free in their natural habitat.

Not only can you witness huge pods of dolphins swimming past your boat, but if the circumstances allow, you will be able to don your snorkel and hop in the water to swim alongside these magnificent creatures. Dolphins are calm, graceful, inquisitive animals and each experience with them is unique!

New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to encounter dolphins as you know that safety and protection of wildlife is a top priority.

11. The Longest Place Name

Last but by no means least is the fact that New Zealand holds the title for the longest place name in the world. Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­turi­pukakapiki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokai­whenua­kitanatahu (wiki) is roughly translating as “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”, is the 85-letter extraordinary Māori name for a hill that overlooks Hawke’s Bay!

And that’s a wrap on the things that New Zealand is famous for. Of course, these are just a few of the things that make the country a bucket-list-worthy destination and, to be honest, the scenery alone is worth going for! So, if you’re yet to visit New Zealand, get it on your list and start planning the trip of a lifetime!

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