5 weird geography facts you didn’t know about New Zealand

auckland new zealand
auckland new zealand
Milford Sound

New Zealand is an exciting, dynamic country in a constant process of change.

Here are 5 topographic and environmental things that you might not know:

1. NZ is developing at about the same speed as your fingernails grow

New Zealand is balanced on the edge of 2 tectonic plates which move and swing in 2 directions. Specialist Graeme Blick says that this movement averages about 5-6 cm a year; coincidentally the exact same speed of growth as your fingernails.


2. George St is the most common street name in New Zealand

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has an official database of New Zealand’s street addresses, containing 74 George streets. We think that this is all the more reason to make sure you get the postcode right!

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3. More than 8683 islands can be found around NZ’s coastline

LINZ’s maps show this many islands around the shorelines of the North, Stewart, South and Chatham Islands.

166 of these islands are the size of Wellington’s Matiu/Somes Island (250.000 sqm), or larger.

If this seems like too many, know that it doesn’t even include islands in lakes, or islands like the Snares or Kermadecs.

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Somes island

4. Most of New Zealand’s place names are not official

Just because a place has a name, doesn’t mean it is official. Official place names have been approved by the New Zealand Geographic Board. The board makes certain place names follow a consecutive and standardized approach, taking into consideration original Maori names, spelling, and various other factors.

Names which are commonly used in public docs such as maps or graphs, and which haven’t been approved to be official, are known as “recorded” names. These include many big and important cities such as Taupo, Timaru, New Plymouth, Whangarei, Wellington, and many more.

Currently there are about 16,000 official place names and 33,000 recorded place names.


5. Pine trees and goldfish bowl weed are two of New Zealand’s biggest plants

Pine trees are an important part of NZ’s economy, but when they grow in areas where they should not grow, they are called “wilding pines” and are an aggressive pest.

6% of New Zealand is now covered by wilding pines, and LINZ is a member of a national wildings management programme for curbing their spread.

Lagarosiphon is another imported plant species that has harmed natural New Zealand. Originally imported to the country in the 1950s to be used in goldfish bowls, since those times it has found its way into lakes and rivers where it grows like a weed.

wilding pines