Strange NZ Facts


Strangely True; Truly Strange

It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.

- Albert Einstein

Strange is our situation here upon earth.
Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose.
From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know:
that man is here for the sake of other men.

- Albert Einstein (again)

by Patricia Chapman

bulletNo capital city in the world is further south than Wellington.  (See NOTE below.)
bulletNo part of New Zealand is more than 128 km from the sea.
bulletFrench Pass, which separates d'Urville Island from the South Island coast, is the only place in the world where two different levels of ocean can be seen at once.  This causes tremendously dangerous currents - sometimes the tide flows at up to 8 knots through the narrow Pass.  [The only time we went through there, we didn't know that.  Jeff said that was the closest he's ever come to putting our boat, Lady Fair, on the rocks.]
bulletMore fresh water gushes up from cracks in the limestone at Waikoropupu, near Takaka, Nelson province, than from any freshwater spring anywhere in the world.  Over 2,100 million litres of water gush up every 24 hours.
bulletFiordland National Park is one of the largest in the world at 1,228,348 hectares.  It is also one of the wildest and least populated.
bulletFossil-bearing rocks in the Cobb Valley near Nelson have trilobites that are 550 million years old.
bulletEach year some 400 significant earthquakes are recorded in New Zealand, of which roughly 100 are likely to be felt without instruments, but aren't of sufficient importance to warrant public notice.  The biggest New Zealand earthquake in historical times was near Wellington on 23 January 1855.  It had a magnitude of about 8 on the Richter scale and was felt over about 940,000 sq km, tilting a block of land 50 m wide and 190 km long.  In Wellington the uplift was 1.5 m; great stretches of shore became permanently exposed (including what is now the airport).  The centre lay along the Wairarapa Fault, whose horizontal movement is estimated to have been at least 12 m compared with about 6 m for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  Despite this huge movement, only 12 people died in the quake, because Wellington was still sparsely populated at that stage.
bulletLess than 5% of the population of New Zealand is human - the rest are animals, giving one of the highest ratios of humans to animals in the world.
bulletThe first all-female group of pallbearers was six sisters who carried their father's coffin in 1974.  Mr James O'Brien died on 1 June 1974, leaving eight daughters, 6 of whom officiated as pallbearers.
bulletMore rainbow trout in the 2-3 kg category are caught annually in New Zealand than in the rest of the world put together.
bulletEnergy consumption per head in NZ on a kilogram-of-coal equivalent is around 3,000 kg.  This compares with 6,845 in Australia, 10,888 in North America and 4,023 in Western Europe.
bulletNew Zealand has more bookshops per head of population than any other country; one for every 7,500 people (compared with one for every 19,000 in England and one for every 50,000 in the USA).
bulletThe shortest term of a New Zealand Prime Minister was seven days: Harry Atkinson was appointed on 28 August 1884 and resigned on 3 September 1884, beating the record of his immediate predecessor, Robert Stout, by six days.
bulletThe youngest person ever elected to a city council in New Zealand was Miss Vicki Buck, who won a seat on the Christchurch City Council in a by-election in May 1975, at the age of 19.  Her majority was in excess of a thousand.  (Vicki Buck went on to become mayor of Christchurch.)
bulletA total of 194,000 men (67% of all NZ males between 18 and 45) served in World War II.
bulletThere are more Scottish pipe bands per head of population in NZ than in Scotland.  [For some pipe band jokes, see here.]

Source: from the book Strange Facts & True about New Zealand


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Suggestions
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2006 07:34:17 -0500

This message was posted via the Feedback form.
Name: Krystal G.

Comments: You have stated that no capitol city is further south than Wellington, NZ.  if you have a look at a map with parallel lines on you'll find that Hobart, Tamania actually sits lower than Wellington by about 6-8 degrees of parallel so I think you should check before making a statement about what city sits farthest south.


First, thanks for writing.  Second, I quoted from a book rather than "making a statement".  Third, I took the quote to mean a country's capital city but you are correct because it does not say that.

Are you from Hobart?


Top 10 Down Under

NZ's Top 10 (1992)

edited by Michael Morrissey

(in which I read that honeybees kill more people per year than any other poisonous creature on earth):

Colin Quincey  (b1945)

In 1977 Colin Quincey rowed his six-metre fibreglass dory Tasman Trespasser for 63 days 7 hours from New Zealand to Australia.  He was the first (and so far only) person to have accomplished this feat.  Quincey battled a bad back, setbacks by currents, screaming winds, sore fingers from bailing, sleepless nights and salt water irritations while completing his 2170 km arc across the top of the Tasman.  On arrival in Australia Quincey exclaimed, "I've taken you - you bastard!  I've won!"

New Zealand World Records

Litter collection - The greatest number of volunteers collecting litter in one location on one day is 19,924 who helped clean up the city of Wellington in October 1991 as part of a Keep Wellington Beautiful campaign.

Steepest street — The steepest street in the world is Baldwin St, Dunedin, its maximum gradient 1 in 1.266.

Memorable Quote

New Zealanders who leave for Australia raise the IQ of both countries.

- Robert Muldoon on the exodus to Australia in the early 1980s

Curious Critters

Giant Worm

Spenceriella gigantea, a two-metre long thumb-thick worm, was discovered on Little Barrier Island in 1905.  It has also been located on Kawau Island, the Hen and Chickens Islands and near Leigh and Tapuni.  Difficult to locate and easily damaged by handling, it is hard to successfully capture a live specimen.

New Age Beliefs Demythified


During the 1970s and '80s firewalking courses became a New Age fashion.  From Britain and California to New Zealand, up to $500 was paid for weekend seminars of meditation and chanting which culminated with participants being able to walk barefoot without pain or harm across pits of glowing coals.  The organisers of these events claimed the invulnerability resulted from the effect of the mind insulating the body from the intense heat of the coals.  Sceptics, however, have shown otherwise.  Hot coals are poor conductors of heat and though an intense firepit radiated a great deal of heat, so long as the total contact time for the soles of the firewalkers does not exceed six seconds, burning does not occur.  No mental preparation of any kind - except a belief in the laws of physics - is required for anyone to walk with impunity over the hot coals.  The New Zealand Sceptics held the first of its free, public firewalks in 1989.  Since then, hundreds have trod the glowing coals unscorched.

On the same subject, I recently spotted this article online:

Insurance Staff Roasted Alive

Age Extra: World in Brief

Thursday 16 July 1998 London - Seven British insurance company workers on a motivation course got a roasting after attempting a fire-walking trick perfected by Indian fakirs.  The workers were rushed to hospital with burns when the coals they were persuaded to walk over turned out to be red-hot instead of merely glowing, The Sun reported.  Two were transferred to a specialist unit and may need skin grafts.  The exercise was part of a course on teamwork and motivation.  The company said it was investigating the accident, which occurred during a course run by an outside agency.

For articles on bacteria, centrioles, chairs, nebulae, asteroids, robots, memory, chirality, pain, fractals, DNA, geology, strange facts, extra dimensions, spare parts, discoveries, ageing and more click the "Up" button below to take you to the Table of Contents for this Science section.

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