Alone in the South Pacific Ocean lies New Zealand. Its nearest neighbor, Australia, is 1,000 miles away. New Zealand is a group of islands formed from volcanoes. The country has 50 volcanoes, some of which are still active. New Zealand has steep, rugged mountains capped with snow, as well as green pastureland and rocky beaches.
New Zealand was first settled by the Maori people who came from other Polynesian islands about 1,000 years ago. The Maori lived alone on the islands for hundreds of years until the Dutch arrived in the 17th century. British settlers came in 1769. New Zealand became a colony of Britain in 1907, but gained its independence 40 years later.
Because New Zealand is such a remote island, most of the animals that live here are birds that flew here thousands of years ago. Many of the birds can no longer fly. When Dutch and British settlers arrived, they brought cats, rats and other predators. These predators have killed many of the native species on the island. In addition to birds, the island hosts giant insects, including the giant weta, which resembles a cricket, but weighs three times more than a mouse!
Fun Facts about New Zealand for Kids
- 4,748,439 people live in New Zealand (information from June 2018).
- New Zealand has 104,454 square miles of land.
- Aoraki ./ Mount Cook standing at 3,724 m is the tallest mountain in New Zealand.
- Flowing for 425 km the Waikato is the longest river.
- Because of it’s location and proximity to fault lines New Zealand is prone to earthquakes.
- According to information taken from NASA, New Zealand has more than 3,000 glaciers.
- Dairy, Poultry, Fish, Meat and Wool are some of New Zealand’s largest exports.
- The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed here.
- Most people speak English or Maori.
- Air New Zealand Limited is the national airline.
- Most people are Protestant or Roman Catholic.
- New Zealanders – or Kiwis, as they are called – can expect to live 78 years.
- 99 percent of adults can read.
- Chris Hipkins is the current Prime Minister of New Zealand (information updated Feb 2023).
New Zealand Vocabulary
- Rugged: rough
- Remote: distant, faraway
- Predator: an animal that preys on other animals
Learn All about New Zealand
Here’s a clip about New Zealand you can watch right now to learn more more.
New Zealand Q&A
Question: What type of government does New Zealand have?
Answer: New Zealand has a parliamentary government patterned after Great Britain’s government. New Zealand was the first country to allow women the right to vote. New Zealand is also very active in helping other countries.
Map of New Zealand
Here’s a map of the country of New Zealand and all its cities and villages. Zoom in to get into street level or zoom out to see other countries around New Zealand! You can see the terrain, but also see the roads, images of the buildings and even take a 3D tour through the streets of the cities of New Zealand, as though you are actually there!
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