Aotearoa is New Zealand’s Maori name, meaning the land of the long white cloud. It is likely that early Maori ocean explorers searching for new lands to settle gave the islands this name as cloud signified the presence of land in the distance.
Here are some things that when you mention New Zealand you will think of these things
An interesting fact about New Zealand is that it’s home to 29 million sheep (according to 2015 statistics) and around 4.6 million people. That’s 6 sheep per person (and it used to be more), and the reason for the many sheep jokes made about New Zealanders.
Sheep in New Zealand are farmed for their meat and wool. The South Island’s terrain and climate, in particular, make it ideal for sheep farming.
Several sheep farms in the area welcome tourists to enjoy an authentic farming experience amid in this spectacular setting.
Another fact about New Zealand is that if you tell a New Zealander that you like to eat kiwi you are saying that you eat the endangered flightless bird that is the country’s icon. This will not be taken well as New Zealanders (also known as Kiwis) are protective of their national bird.
New Zealanders call the fruit “kiwifruit”, and in fact, kiwi birds and kiwifruit are similar in appearance; roundish, brown and fuzzy.
The kiwifruit is one of New Zealand’s major horticultural exports. The kiwifruit originated from China and was developed into a commercial product by New Zealand orchardists who began exporting the fruit to the world in the 1950s.
The Bay of Plenty town of Te Puke, where New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry began, markets itself as the ‘Kiwifruit Capital of the World’.
Most New Zealand kiwifruit is now marketed under the brand-name Zespri, partly as a way to distinguish ‘Kiwi’ kiwifruit from the produce of other countries.
3. Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is produced by bees foraging on the flowers of the Manuka tree, a very special tree that only grows in New Zealand. Researchers and doctors have found that Manuka honey has bioactive healing properties. It has been found to be effective at boosting the body’s immune system, healing wounds, treating skin infections, sore throats and digestive problems among other things. Some celebrities attribute their great complexions to manuka honey.
You can stock up on Manuka honey anywhere in New Zealand, it can be found in supermarkets, health stores and tourist shops.
New Zealand wine is produced in several mostly maritime, cool climate wine growing regions of New Zealand. New Zealand boasts over 10 wine regions and various sub-regions spread mostly around the eastern coastlines of both the North and South Islands.
New Zealand is most famous for its Sauvignon Blanc and more recently its Pinot Noir. New Zealand wines are world-renowned, and almost 90% of the wine produced in New Zealand is exported.
5. Lord of the Rings
New Zealand has become known as “Middle Earth” since the release of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie trilogies. The diverse and spectacular scenery that provided the backdrop for these epic films attracts visitors from across the globe to take in the sites for themselves.
Hobbiton in Matamata is a highlight and is the only movie set that is still intact, but there is scenery from the films all over the country.
The All Blacks have made New Zealand famous for Rugby and Kiwis are passionate about the game. Rugby is a fact of New Zealand life and is played at all levels, from primary school to international.
The best way to get a taste of the New Zealand rugby spirit while you’re in Aotearoa is to go to a rugby game and experience the exciting atmosphere of the grandstand. You’ll need to visit the websites of the All Blacks, the New Zealand Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby League to check out game dates.
If you can’t make it to a stadium to watch a game head to a pub or sports bar showing a game, there is bound to be a great atmosphere, and it’s a great way to soak up some Kiwi culture.
Haka is a traditional war dance or challenge that is an integral part of Maori culture. Haka was originally performed before a battle to intimidate the enemy and is also used as part of welcome ceremonies and other special events.
Haka is performed by New Zealand and other Pacific nations’ rugby teams at the beginning of matches.
The best place to experience Haka is in Rotorua, the Maori cultural center of New Zealand. Rotorua is New Zealand’s first bilingual city, with many residents speaking both New Zealand’s official languages (English and Te Reo Maori). Here you can attend a cultural show, and even learn the basics of Maori performing arts.