25 things you may not have known about New Zealand

By Alanah May Eriksen

1 - Cook's cure
Captain James Cook, the man who navigated New Zealand, is said to have discovered a cure for scurvy, a disease that results from Vitamin C deficiency, when he played around with medicines.

2 - More births
New Zealand births exceeded deaths by 29,890 in the September 2005 year.

3 - Older brides
New Zealanders are getting married older. The latest statistics show that the median ages of men and women marrying for the first time is 29.9 and 28.1 years. These brides and grooms married, on average, nine years older than their parents did.

4 - Big on butter
For each person who lives here, New Zealand produces 100kg of butter and 65kg of cheese each year.

5 - Clever Kiwis
A New Zealander invented the tear-back velcro strip, the pop-lid on a self-sealing paint tin, the child-proof pill bottle and the crinkle in hair-pins so that they don't fall out.

6 - Olympic gold
New Zealand has won more Olympic gold medals a head than any other country.

7 - Sheep dip
In the early 1980s, New Zealand was home to more than 70 million sheep, but now has 40 million, or about 10 sheep to one person.

This decline hasn't stopped New Zealand from bringing in 50 per cent of all international trade in sheepmeat.

8 - Golf swings
Measured by club memberships, golf is the most popular sport in New Zealand, followed by netball.

9 - Curious Kea
The kea, native to New Zealand, likes to eat the strips of rubber around car windows.

10 - Quick work
The shortest interval between separate births in the world is 208 days. New Zealander Jayne Bleackley gave birth to Joseph Robert on September 3, 1999, and Annie Jessica Joyce on March 30, 2000.

11 - Why bother?
Two Massey University students broke a Guinness World Record in December for the world's largest tape ball. The ball, which weighs 53kg and has a circumference of more than 2.5m, was made by winding Scotch tape continually around itself.

12 - Spelling test
The longest place name in the world still in use is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukaka-
pikimaungahoronukupokaiwenuakitanatahu, a hill in Porangahau in the Hawkes Bay. The Maori name translates to "the 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."

13 - Middle age
The median age of New Zealanders is growing. In 1901 it was 23. By 1991 it was 31 and in 2001 it was 35. By 2021 it is expected to be 40.

14 - Rising prices
In 1984, $43 in New Zealand would buy approximately the same as $100 today.

15 - Blacked out
The longest blackout in the world was on February 19, 1998, when the four main power cables supplying Auckland city, broke down. The disruption, which lasted 66 days, affected 7500 business and residential customers and cost businesses an estimated $300 million.

16 - The sea, the sea
No part of New Zealand is more than 128km from the sea.

17 - Lost in space
In the scene of Star Trek: First Contact, when Picard shows Lilly she is orbiting Earth, Australia and Papa New Guinea are clearly visible but New Zealand is missing.

18 - Bottom line
No capital city in the world is further south than Wellington.

19 - Animal farm
Less than 5 per cent of the population of New Zealand is human - the rest are animals. This is one of the highest ratios of animals to humans in the world.

20 - Pipebands galore
There are more Scottish pipe bands per head of population in New Zealand than in Scotland.

21 - Big readers
New Zealand has more book-shops per head of population than any other country; one for every 7500 people.

22 - Bad behaviour
New Zealand has the third highest rate of deaths in the developed world from maltreatment among under-15-year-olds; third to Mexico and the US.

23 - Freshwater spring
More fresh water flows up from cracks in the limestone at Waikoropupu, near Takaka, than from any other freshwater spring in the world - more than 2100 million litres every 24 hours.

24 - Trout heaven
More rainbow trout in the 2kg to 3kg category are caught annually in New Zealand than in the rest of the world put together.

25 - World-beaters
New Zealand is home to the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors Dolphin, the rarest sea lion, the Hookers Sea Lion, the largest flightless parrot, the kakapo, the oldest reptile, the tuatara, the heaviest insect, a weta, the biggest earth-worms, the smallest bats, some of the oldest trees, and many of the rarest birds, insects, and plants in the world.

* Facts sourced from Statistics New Zealand, Strange Facts & True About New Zealand, Guinness World records, The Kiwi Site and the ENZ New Zealand Immigration Guide.

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