I sell flights to New Zealand everyday through my work at STA Travel and although my knowledge of the country is pretty good (there’s heaps of products I need to know about for backpackers and gap year travellers) I needed to up my game slightly. This tied in pretty nicely with my own personal planning for going Kiwi on my next RTW trip so I got myself all signed up to Tourism New Zealands Kiwi Specialist programme.
It’s much like the Aussie Specialist I completed a while back…but slightly more in depth and for New Zealand!
Anyhow the whole thing has proved pretty useful and I’ve now got heaps of ideas for what I want to get up to when I visit and it’s opened my eyes to a whole host of awesome experiences across both the North and South Islands – so here’s my Top 10 Things I Didn’t Know About NZ (this time yesterday!);
1. “Kia Ora” – nope I’m not talking about the fruit juice Kia Ora is the traditional Maori greeting.
2. The Worlds Steepest Street – yup NZ is home to the steepest street in the world. Baldwin Street in Dunedin rises 70 metres over it’s 350 metre length, with a heft 35% incline.
3. Maori Culture – the native people of NZ are the Maoris and their culture stems back thousands of years. The stories of whole NZ came to be are fascinating, with the North Island being a fish and the South the canoe it was caught from
4. 3 Languages – NZ has 3 official languages; English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language
5. Unique Wildlife – it’s not just the Kiwi that is unique to NZ, the place has an abundance of rare and unique wildlife. From the Chatham Island Robin through to the Hectors Dolphin and Yellow Eyed Penguin
6. Thermal Hotspot – NZ is full of brilliant places of thermal significance, from the eco resorts of Whakarewarewa where you can bath in the hot springs and get a mud pack through to Hot Water Beach in Mecury Bay where you can dig out your own personal hot tub in the sand.
7. Scottish Influence – I had no idea that NZ had so much Scottish hertiage! Dundein has a whole host of Scottish streets and even hosts an Annual Celtic Festival every March.
8. Dam Drop – a rather random but fun looking activity is the NZ dam drop – where you get the opportunity to ride over a dam system on little more than a bodyboard, with rapid ranging from grade 1-3 check out the official Dam Drop website for more info
9. Who Discovered New Zealand?! – The first European to ‘discover’ NZ was Dutchman Abel Tasman in 1642. However their first encounter with the Maori (even before stepping foot on dry land) turned sour and resulted in 4 sailors being killed before Tasman sailed off. It wasn’t until 1769 that James Cook landed the Endeavour.
10. Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu – Believe it or not thats actually a place in NZ, in fact it’s the longest place name in the world! Often shortened (rather sensibly!) to Taumata it comes from the Maori meaning “he 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”
Working Holiday Visas to NZ are only £120 and British passport holders can stay for up to 23 months – and with an exchange rate of roughly $2 New Zealand Dollars to the pound it’s a great time to go Kiwi…something I’ll be doing on my next RTW trip!
If you need any help booking flights, accommodation or any Kiwi products chuck me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help get your trip started…