In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European explorer to find New Zealand. He called it 'Staten Landt' as he had mistakenly assumed that it was 'Staten Landt', an island off the coast of Argentina. In 1645, two Dutch cartographers - Hendrik Brouwer and Joan Blaeu - correctly figured out that these large islands weren't part of South America. Joan Blaeu named the islands 'Nova Zeelandia' after Zeeland, the westernmost province of the Netherlands (Zeeland means "sea land" in Dutch as the province is made of islands) British explorer James Cook popularized its English translation, New Zealand
How did New Zealand get its name?
In 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote in national-wide elections
New Zealand's capital, Wellington, is the southernmost national capital of an independent nation in the world.
Southern-most capital city
Gisborne Airport in New Zealand has a railway line, the Palmerston North - Gisborne Line, crossing the main runway. Sometimes train has to stop to let a plane use the runway before they can cross the runway.
New Zealand is one of only two countries in the world (the other being Denmark) with two official national anthems of equal status. The traditional anthem "God Save the Queen" is generally used only on regal and viceregal occasions. "God Defend New Zealand" is more commonly used.
Between March 2005 and August 2006 New Zealand became the only country in the world in which all the highest offices in the land (Head of State, Governor-General, Prime Minister, Speaker and Chief Justice) were occupied simultaneously by women
The 328 meters (1,076 ft) tall Sky Tower in Auckland is the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
Hector’s Dolphin is found only in the waters around New Zealand. The Hector's dolphin is the world's smallest and rarest dolphin. It was named after Sir James Hector, who was the curator of the Colonial Museum in Wellington (now the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa). He examined the first specimen found of the dolphin.
The Māori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, which means “Land of the Long White Cloud"
Land of the Long White Cloud
The flightless kiwi bird is native to New Zealand. In relation to the bird’s body size, the kiwi lays the largest egg in the world, weighing about one-third of its weight. The kiwi is the only bird in the world that has no wings. It has a strong sense of smell and its nostrils are at the end of its long beak.
National bird of New Zealand
Moa were flightless birds that were native to New Zealand. The largest species, the giant moa, reached about 12 feet (4 m) in height and weighed about 550 lb. (249 kg). They were hunted to extinction by the Māori in the 15th century
Ernest Rutherford, often referred to as the father of nuclear physics, is the first New Zealander to win Nobel Prize. He conducted research that led to the first "splitting" of the atom in 1917 in a nuclear reaction between nitrogen and alpha particles, in which he also discovered (and named) the proton. His work at McGill University, Canada earned him the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Sir Edmund Percival Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first persons to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He also became the first person to drive overland to the South Pole in 1958. He accomplished that feat driving a specially adapted New Zealand farm tractor.
Conqueror of Mt. Everest
New Zealand is the world's largest exporter of dairy products, supplying about one-third of global trade.
Blue Lake, in Nelson Lakes National Park, has the clearest water in the world. The visibility of distilled water is about 80 meters. Blue Lake, in New Zealand's South Island, clocks in at 76 meters.
Clearest water in the world
New Zealand has three official languages: English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language. Māori, also known as Te Reo ("the language"), is spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. About 3% of the New Zealand population could speak fluent Māori. There was originally no native writing system for Māori. Samuel Lee worked with chief Hongi Hika to systematize the written language in 1820.
Three official languages
Milford Sound, New Zealand is the most visited tourist destination of New Zealand by the foreign tourists.
The landscapes of Middle‑earth came alive after about 150 real New Zealand locations were used in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The filming of these movies pumped more than $200 million into the country's economy. The New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, to make most of the films’ success around the world.
Land of the 'Lord of the Rings'
Rugby union is considered the national sport. The "All Blacks", the national rugby union team, are the most successful in the history of international rugby and the reigning World Cup champions. New Zealand won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 and repeated the success in 2011 and 2015
Unofficial national sport
Kakapo (also known as 'night parrot'), world's only flightless parrot, is native to New Zealand. The Kakapo is also world's heaviest parrot. The name "kakapo" is derived from the Māori terms kākā ("parrot") and pō ("night"). The kakapo also called owl parrot.
Home to flightless parrot
New Zealand is one of the few countries that do not have any snakes in the wild. Ireland and Iceland are the only other countries that do not have any terrestrial snakes in the wild.
No snakes on the ground
New Zealand was the last habitable landmass settled by humans. Prior to human settlement, the only terrestrial mammals of New Zealand are bats. The Māori brought the kurī (Polynesian dog) and kiore (Polynesian rat) in about 1250 CE, and Europeans all others.
Last frontier for mammals