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 facts For Kids
- NZ is made up of North and South Islands.
- It was the first country to give women the vote (1893).
- No snakes live in the wild in NZ.
- Home to the indigenous Māori people.
- Setting for the “Lord of the Rings” films.
- Features the southernmost capital, Wellington.
- Known for its kiwi birds, not just the fruit.
- It has three official languages.
- More sheep than people!
- The All Blacks rugby team performs the “haka”.
New Zealand boasts a vibrant, rich cultural heritage, greatly influenced by the indigenous Maori people, who have been an integral part of the country’s identity for over a thousand years, long before European explorers arrived.
Their language, Te Reo, is one of the three official languages of the country, testifying to their profound influence. The Maori ethos, deeply rooted in respect for nature and spiritual beings inhabiting the natural world, is beautifully manifested in their customs and traditions.
Their captivating artistry, evident in their exquisite carvings and intricate weaving, and their powerful Haka dance, a highlight at ceremonies and special events, create a unique cultural tapestry. Children studying New Zealand will find the Maori culture particularly fascinating, offering them a glimpse into a truly distinctive and vibrant cultural landscape.
All Blacks (rugby)
New Zealand, globally acclaimed for its rugby union team, the All Blacks, takes immense pride in the sport’s integral role in their culture. The All Blacks, distinguished by their black uniforms, have carved out a remarkable winning record in international rugby history, including several World Cup wins.
This sporting passion is instilled from a young age, with children across the country routinely engaging in both playing and watching rugby. The All Blacks further set themselves apart with their pre-game ritual, the Haka, a traditional Māori dance performed in a show of unity and strength, both to challenge their adversaries and pay homage to their cultural roots.
This awe-inspiring display resonates with audiences worldwide and serves as an emblem of pride for the young Kiwis.
The Kiwi bird, recognized as New Zealand’s national symbol, is a distinctive creature due to its flightless and nocturnal nature. Comparable in size to a domestic hen, Kiwis are distinguished by whisker-like feathers around their faces and long beaks, which they use for foraging food from the ground.
This fascinating bird lays the world’s largest eggs in relation to body size, with the egg accounting for almost a quarter of the female’s weight. Notably, Kiwis possess an exceptional sense of smell, an uncommon trait in birds, and are typically quite timid. Therefore, a careful search may be required to spot one during a visit to New Zealand.
Lord of the Rings (filming locations)
New Zealand, a picturesque nation in the South Pacific, is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, which was prominently showcased in the Lord of the Rings film series. The films magically transformed New Zealand’s lush greenery, majestic mountains, and tranquil rivers and lakes into the fantastical realm of Middle Earth.
Key filming locations, including the Waikato region and the Tongariro National Park, brought the epic adventures of beloved characters to life. For young fans, a visit to these locations, like the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata, offers an exciting opportunity to explore the very grounds where their favorite characters embarked on their epic journeys.
Aotearoa (native name)
Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, Aotearoa, also popularly known as New Zealand, captivates with its stunning landscapes, ranging from snow-capped mountains, beautiful beaches, and lush forests to rolling hills. This captivating island nation comprises two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, along with countless smaller islands.
Aotearoa, translating to the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, is a name bestowed by the native Maori people, whose culture significantly contributes to New Zealand’s identity through place names, traditions, and customs.
This rich Maori history is deeply intertwined with the country’s identity. Aotearoa is also home to an array of unique wildlife, including the flightless kiwi bird, a proud national symbol.
Wellington (capital city)
Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, is a culturally rich hub renowned for its scenic beauty. Nestled at the southwestern tip of the North Island, this southernmost capital city worldwide is often dubbed the ‘Windy City’ due to its high winds.
As a bustling metropolis, it houses Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum that boasts a rich collection of Maori art and artifacts, making it an exciting learning hub for kids. It also serves as the epicenter of the country’s film industry, home to the famous Weta Workshop and the filming locations for the globally recognized ‘Lord of the Rings’ series.
Furthermore, wildlife enthusiasts can revel in the unique fauna at Zealandia, a sanctuary devoted to conserving New Zealand’s distinctive wildlife.
New Zealand is renowned worldwide for its impressive sheep farming, boasting a population of sheep that significantly surpasses its human residents, with an approximate ratio of nine sheep to each person.
This unique statistic crowns New Zealand as the global leader in terms of sheep per capita. As a critical component of the country’s economy, sheep farming plays a substantial role in New Zealand’s agricultural exports. The sheep, raised primarily for their wool and meat–often referred to as lamb–are a key product in both domestic and international markets.
Therefore, the likelihood is high that your cozy woolen sweater or savory lamb roast could trace its origins back to a New Zealand farm.
The South Island of New Zealand, the larger yet less populated of the country’s two main islands, offers an enticing educational experience for kids with its mix of stunning landscapes and unique wildlife. Known for its diverse natural beauty, the South Island boasts everything from the beautiful beaches of Nelson to the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps – the highest mountains in Australasia.
Children will be captivated by the island’s unique inhabitants, which include the world’s smallest dolphin, Hector’s Dolphin, as well as distinctive bird species like the kiwi and the kea. They’ll also discover the world’s clearest lake, Blue Lake, nestled within Nelson Lakes National Park.
Additionally, the South Island has a thrilling side, with adventure-seeking kids having the opportunity to explore activities like bungee jumping, which was first commercialized in Queenstown.
The North Island of New Zealand, though smaller than its counterpart, is teeming with life and carries the majority of the country’s population. It offers an engaging and dynamic learning environment for children with its bustling city of Auckland, the country’s largest city and home to the Sky Tower – the highest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
The island is a hotbed for geothermal activity, showcased in areas like Rotorua through its intriguing geysers and mud pools. With the largest concentration of Maori people, it presents a unique opportunity to delve into Maori culture.
Its awe-inspiring natural wonders, such as the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, captivate young minds as they gaze at the ceiling illuminated by glowing insects, resembling a starlit sky. This vibrant and educational environment makes the North Island an exciting place for kids to explore.
Haka (traditional dance)
Originating from the Maori people of New Zealand, the Haka is a potent dance tradition that embodies an intense fusion of rhythmic body movements, stomping feet, and robust, synchronized chanting.
Historically, this dance was a war routine designed to strike fear into the hearts of enemies, but it has since evolved into a performance seen at a variety of events such as ceremonies, celebrations, and sports matches. Notably, New Zealand’s renowned rugby team, the All Blacks, performs the Haka before their matches as a display of their cultural heritage.
As such, the Haka stands as a significant emblem of New Zealand’s culture, encapsulating the nation’s rich indigenous history and tradition.
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!