15 Quirky Facts About the Place Where Middle-Earth Meets Earth: New Zealand
We all like to travel, visit different places, and look at famous palaces, castles, and churches. The uniqueness of New Zealand is not what previous generations have built or created but what the human race hasn’t touched — nature. Bright Side invites you to visit Aotearoa, The Land of the Long White Cloud, and one of the most magical places on Earth.
On the 2001 New Zealand census, 1.5% of the population listed their religion as “Jedi.”
2. Minister for Lord of the Rings
You got it right! New Zealand has a Minister of the Rings. After the trilogy, Tolkien-related tourism became so popular that the government had to appoint a Minister to regulate the process. Basically, New Zealand has its own wizard.
Tattooing is a very important part of the Māori culture and often done on the face (for both men and women). The design is quite complex and can reveal a lot about the wearer. It is traditionally done using knives and chisels instead of needles.
4. Speaking Elvish
The Lord of the Rings trilogy had such a big influence on everyday life in New Zealand that a weather report on national TV in 2012 was presented in Elvish. Maybe one day this language will be taught in schools. It will surely be the most popular class with 100% attendance!
5. The longest place name found in any English-speaking country
Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungah-oronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu means “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.” How does this name fit on documents? Or perhaps the birth certificates from that place come on really large pieces of paper.
Aotearoa is the Māori name for New Zealand and can be translated as The Land of the Long White Cloud. Māori legend says that New Zealand was fished out of the sea by the demigod Māui.
When you hear the word “kiwi,” you probably think about a fruit. But not if you are in New Zealand! Everything in this country is kiwi-related one way or another. A unique kiwi bird can be found only in this place. It cannot fly and has fur-like feathers. The one-dollar coin is also nicknamed kiwi. McDonald’s sell kiwi-burgers. And even New Zealanders proudly call themselves Kiwis.
The Haka is the traditional Māori dance, and it is really impressive. It shows a tribe’s pride, strength, and power. Today the Haka is used to challenge the opposing team in sports and during some important Māori ceremonies. It’s great that the Māori people keep their traditions alive and blend them into modern life.
There are 6 sheep for every person in New Zealand, which is the highest ratio in the world. The merino sheep in the image above became a national legend. He ran away from his owner and was wandering around for 6 years. When finally found, he had so much wool that he didn’t even look like a sheep. He must have been very happy to get sheared and instantly lose almost 60 lb!
If you are a Tolkien fan and want to visit the real Middle-Earth, New Zealand is definitely the place to go. Add some magic to your traveling!
11. The clearest lake in the world
Visibility in the Blue Lake is up to 80 m, which officially made it the clearest lake in the world. That is close to the clarity of distilled water. Amazing.
No matter where exactly in New Zealand you are, you will never be more than 128 km from the coast.
Māori people have many legends about nature, and one of them is about Tane Mahuta, a massive kauri tree whose age is unknown but is somewhere between 1,250 and 2,500 years old. Its name means “Lord of the Forest.” The tree is huge, and the kauri forest is beautiful.
The sun in New Zealand is vicious, and sometimes 10-15 minutes can be enough to get sunburned. In the 1980s, a sun protection campaign started, and now every child in New Zealand and Australia knows about Slip-Slop-Slap. A few years later, 2 more S’s were added:
Slip on a shirt.
Slop on the sunscreen.
Slap on a hat.
Slide on sunnies.
15. Bungee jumping
The first organized bungee jumps started in New Zealand more than 30 years ago. If you are brave enough, you should try it. A cord is attached to your ankles, and then you jump from a high platform or a bridge. Definitely not for the acrophobic! If you decide to do it, make sure you take a video and add it to the comments below. We all want to hear that screaming!
New Zealand is a unique and gorgeous country, and we surely haven’t covered everything here. If you think that we forgot something important, write about it in the comments below.