Sources – “The Big Book of Kiwi Trivia”, Graham Hutchins; “The New Zealand Book of Lists”, John McCrystal & Steve Barnett; & "Crikey! Talk About Kiwiana" by Richard Wolfe, unless otherwise stated. New trivia added to the top of the list.
- Food trivia - Tip Top invented the Trumpet in 1964; the Cadbury Moro bar was first sold in 1967; During the 1970's Kiwis doubled the amount of cheese they ate because of the fondue fad; Goody Goody Gum Drops (bubblegum flavoured) ice cream was launched in 1984, Tip Top recently created candyfloss flavoured ice cream; In 1996 Cookie Time baked the world's largest cookie (487.15 square metres) and held the Guinness Book Of Records title for 12 years; In 2012 Kiwis bought over 11 million bottles of tomato sauce. (New World supermarket)
- Havelock produces around 75% of NZ's mussels and hosts the Mussel Festival in March. (Source: Visit to Havelock)
- There are 142 wineries in Marlborough and 23964 hectares of grapes are grown in the area. The area produced 15.1 million cases of wine in 2012, Marlborough produces 90% of NZ's sauvignon blanc. (Source: Visit to Marlborough)
- The following trivia is taken from "60 million Gingernuts - A Book of New Zealand Records" by Peter Janssen. Over 2,688,000 packets of Griffin's Gingernuts are sold each year........ 38 people shared division one in Lotto on 11 September 1993, the largest number of people to win first division, they won close to $36,000 each ................ One of the smallest libraries and post offices in NZ is in Glentunnel, the octagonal library was built in 1886 ..... $14,656 was the highest price paid for a bottle of wine in 2011, it was a bottle of 1971 Romanee-Conti from Burgundy ....... The Trekka with its Skoda engine was the only vehicle designed and built in NZ on a large scale, 2500 were built between 1966 and 1973 ........ The most marriages took place in 1971 - 27,199 (1982 was the year of the divorce - 12,395), these days around 20,000 couples tie the knot each year ..... The 2011 Rugby World Cup helped bring the most tourists ever to NZ - 2,601,000 came to stay and play.
- The Auckland Sky Tower opened on 3 August 1997, it took around two years, eight months to build. It's 328 metres tall, 4 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower. (Source: Verve magazine, August 2012)
- Whangamomona was declared a Republic in 1988. The "presidents" have included a goat - "Billy the Kid" and Tai the poodle. (Source: Visit to the hotel)
- Big things - Riverton's giant paua, Paeroa's giant L&P bottle, Ohakune's giant carrot, Cromwell's giant fruit sculpture,
Te Kuiti's giant shearer, Rakaia's giant salmon, Tirau's giant sheep and dog, Eketahuna's giant kiwi, Te Puke's giant kiwifruit, Gore's giant trout, Springfield's giant doughnut and Taihape's giant gumboot.
- Mapua Giant Pumpkin Competition - In 2011 John McKay grew a 497kg pumpkin. Five tonnes of horse poo and seaweed were part of the secret recipe. (Source: Mapua Country Trading newsletter, 2011). Update - John McKay's effort in 2012 weighed in at 616kg. The world record is 825kg, let's see what a few more tonnes of poo and fish can produce in 2013. (Source: www.stuff.co.nz, 16 April 2012).
- The first licensed restaurant to open in NZ was the Gourmet, it opened in 1961 on Auckland's Shortland Street.
- NZ's longest running TV series is Country Calendar, it first went to air in 1966. Fair Go is another long running and popular show helping consumers get a "fair go".
- One of the first books published in NZ was "Grammar of the New Zealand Language. Part 1", the subject was Maori grammar and it was written by Rev Robert Maunsell and printed and published in 1842 by J. Moore, Auckland.
- The Edmond's Cookery Book (first ed. 1907) has sold more than 3.45 million copies. The Yates Garden Guide (first ed. 1895) has sold more than one million copies, both books are still being published. The New Zealand Woman's Weekly magazine was first published in December 1932, it's still on the shelves and is read by an estimated 950,000 readers every week.
- Reuben Porter & Harold Mason became a household name (Masport) in 1930 when they launched the first hand mower. They went on to produce the first power driven mower in 1938.
- The first bitumen road was laid on Currie Street, New Plymouth in 1913/14. WWI occurred and no more bitumen came into the country for several years making Currie Street the only bitumen sealed road in NZ. When the bitumen was laid no one knew how much to use and subsequently three times the required amount was applied, the road lasted 15 years. (Source: Visit to Tupare in New Plymouth).
- Between 1 November 2010 and 30 June 2011, 11.4 million library items were borrowed from Auckland libraries. (Source: OurAuckland magazine, November 2011).
- The first game of rugby in NZ was played in Nelson at the Botanics Reserve on May 14, 1870. The game was introduced by 19 year old Charles Monro who learned how to play while attending school in England. He helped start the Nelson Football Club, (renamed Nelson Rugby Club), the oldest rugby club in NZ. (Source: Kia Ora magazine, September 2011)
- The oldest All Black rugby jersey (from 1905) is on display at the Rugby Museum in Palmerston North. (Source: NZ Herald 6/9/11)
- Harrington's Brewery in Christchurch brewed SobeRing Thought for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You can buy a bottle from Shires Rest Cafe in Matamata, home of the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. (Source: Visit to Hobbiton, August 2011).
- The first Sunday in May is National Alpaca Day. Alpaca farms are opened for the public to promote all things alpaca.
- Cadbury chocolate trivia - It takes 24 hours to make a jaffa and 43 million are produced each year. Over one million Roses and Milk Tray assortments can be packed into their boxes in an eight hour shift. Every year more than 27 million marshmellow eggs are produced. One hundred and thirty thousand litres of milk arrive at the Dunedin Cadbury Factory each day. (Source: Visit to Cadbury World, December 2010).
- Kotuku on the West Coast is home to the Jack's Mill School Miniature Bungalow. In 1935 Edward Darracott was appointed headmaster of Kotuku School and he promoted experiential and hands on learning that he hoped would equip students with practical skills that would help them in adult life. Form 1 & 2 (11-12 year old) students were given the task of building, designing and furnishing a 3/4 size bungalow with support from trades people in the local community. The bungalow was completed in 1939 and was equipped with running water, electricity and appliances. The bungalow was used as the school's home economics room until the school closed in 1955. The Kotuku Heritage Society was formed to maintain the site and it is open for viewing on Sunday from 2-5pm by donation, or you can walk around the site at any time. (Sources: DOC website, "Heritage Places in the South Island" (NZ Historic Places Trust brochure) and visit to Kotuku School, October 2010).
- Reefton in the South Island had street lighting before New York or London, the lights were switched on in 1888. (Source: Visit to Reefton in October 2010)
- Maurice Bennett is a toast artist based in Wellington. Eminem, Elvis Presley and US President Barac Obama are a few of the toast portraits he has done.
- You can see over 50,000 items at the National Transport and Toy Museum in Wanaka, including 600 vehicles, 3000 tin and wind up toys, and more than 500 barbie dolls. Open daily (except Christmas day). (Source: @AdrienneRewi on Twitter and Museum's website).
- Bull Rush Chocolates in Ashburton set a new Guinness World Record for the world's longest chocolate bar on 11 September 2010. The previous record was 11.57 metres, Bull Rush's new record is 14.58 metres. To taste chocolates "spanked full of attitude and bursting with the flavours of the school playground" visit Bull Rush.
- Some trivial and not so trivial facts about Timaru - vacuum cleaner connoisseurs can see a collection of vacuum cleaners through the ages at the South Canterbury Museum, Perth Street. The museum also has a Richard Pearse collection, Richard Pearse was the pioneer aviator who may (depending on interpretation) have flown before the Wright brothers. Pleasant Point, 20km from Timaru is home to the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway, the railway has the world's only Ford Model T railcar. You can also learn how to fire and drive a steam locomotive, visit the website for details. Across the road from the Railway is a taxidermist with a permanent display of stuffed animals, including rabbits in costume playing golf. Legends Cafe at 15 Afghan Street is the original home of Denheath Desserts, try one of the melt in the mouth custard squares. Back in Timaru sample a pie from May's Bakery at either 162 or 292 Stafford Street, the pies are made from a 100 year old recipe and they're deemed good enough to have their own street sign. (Source: Visit to Timaru & Kia Ora magazine, August 2010)
- In the 1970's ten Duzgo farm utility vehicles were produced by the Duzgo Manufacturing Company in Whataroa, South Westland. Even though the vehicles were built from recycled parts NZ Customs classified them as new and demanded sales tax for them. Unfortunately the company couldn't afford the sales tax and production ceased. See a photo of a miniature Duzgo in thecuriouskiwiblog - Pete's Possum Pies in Pukekura.
- The jet boat is a NZ invention, it was designed by William Hamilton in the 1950's - www.hamjet.co.nz. The jet boat enables people to get down shallow and fast running rivers. We highly recommend an exhilarating ride in a Shotover Jet in Queenstown, see thecuriouskiwiblog - Jet Boat Adrenalin Action in Queenstown.
- Where can you find New Zealand's biggest ice creams? In the running must be the three shops alongside each other in the village of Pokeno in North Waikato (about 45 minutes south of Auckland city and 45 minutes north of Hamilton). We got our $2.20 two scoop whoppers (called "Kiddie Cones") from Johnson's Takeaways. Next door an eleven scoop mega whopper is $10, if you're looking for something in between Johnson's have a "Massive Seven Scoops" for $6. We recommend BYO serviettes, plates and spoons. On 26 December 2010 TV3 did a story about the "Whoppa Stoppa" a 5 - 6 scoop ice cream you can get in Te Kao in the far north.
- Ronald Hugh Morrieson (1922-1972) was an author from Hawera in the Taranaki. Three of his books, "The Scarecrow", "Came A Hot Friday" and now "Predicament" (August 2010), were made into feature films. From what I've read it sounds like the author didn't meet the approval of many in literary circles because of the content discussed in his books, nor was he a favoured member of his local community because of his heavy drinking. When he died, a group of people tried to save the family home that he had lived in until his death, however it was almost entirely demolished. Wood from his home was salvaged and as a tribute to the author it was used to build the wooden bar inside "Morrieson's Cafe & Bar" in Victoria Street, Hawera. On 1 March 2010 "Came A Hot Friday" was reprinted by Penguin as a "Popular Penguin". (Various sources including Morrieson's Cafe & Bar, Hawera, March 2010).
- The Wellington Cable Car's maiden trip was on 22 February 1902. In 1926 two million people were transported - more than the population of New Zealand at that time. (Wellington Cable Car Museum)
- According to the Guinness Book of Records the town of Geraldine (36km north of Timaru) is home to the world's largest jersey. The jersey weighs 5.5kg, is 4.9 metres wide (from wrist to wrist), 2.1 metres high and 1.5 metres wide. You can see it in the "Giant Jersey Shop" that sells a range of hand crafted New Zealand woollen knit wear. Also on display is a mosaic version of the Bayeux Tapestry. (For more information see thecuriouskiwiblog - What does a knitting machine mechanic do in his spare time?)
- Death by chocolate - A kea ate more than 20 grams of dark chocolate (thought to have been in a rubbish bin) and fatally fell off its perch in Mt Cook village. (The Dominion Post, 1/1/10)
- A 61,214 tonne cruise ship visited Stewart Island in December 2009 raising the population from 400 to 1850. (NZ Herald, December 2009)
- What is the world record for the most socks worn on one foot? Who cares? Kiwi Alastair Galpin, he set the world record at 70 in 2005. That year he also set a new record for the most finger-snapping in one minute – 199 snaps.
- New Zealander’s are affectionately known as Kiwis, the real deal Kiwi is a small, flightless bird that comes to life at night. Alternatively we could have been known as moas, flightless birds (now extinct) but found only in NZ. The tallest moa was 3.5 metres high, the largest bird that ever walked the earth.
- Get rich quick (maybe), there is still gold to be found in rivers and streams. You can legally pan for gold without a licence in the Arrow River, Lower Shotover River and Nelson creek to name a few.
- Janola is a top selling cleaning product in NZ, it was created by two Aucklanders, one married to Jan, the other to Nola.
- NZ invented the Old Age pension, it was introduced in 1898.
- Apparently 7,000,000 servings of hot chips are dished out each week and the country consumes around 60,000,000 meat pies a year.
- A not so trivial achievement - Kiwi Sir Ernest Rutherford split the atom and won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1908. If you'd like to find out more about Ernest Rutherford and visit his birth place see www.rutherford.org.nz.
- In 1984 the hit song “Poi E” by the Patea Maori Club was on the charts for 22 weeks. Take a Kiwi icon home with you – download Poi E from www.amplifier.co.nz. (Poi E was written by linguist Ngoi Pewhairangi and musician Dalvanius Prime in 1982 to help young Maori be proud of their heritage. Record companies showed no interest in Poi E so Dalvanius Prime formed Maui Records to record it, Patea Maori Club went on to tour the United Kingdom). Poi E is the only Kiwi song that's made it into the NZ Top 40 in three seperate decades.
- “How Bizarre” by OMC (Otara Millionaires Club) was a hit song in NZ in 1995. It went to no. 1 in NZ, Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and Austria, and made no. 5 in the UK. OMC lived up to their name and the song made them millionaires, however the fortune came and went. (RIP Paulie Fuemana)
- According to an Auckland mathematician NZ has more places named after scientists than any other country in the world.
What do some visitors have to say about the land down under?
“Terrible tragedy of the south seas. Three million people trapped alive” – Thomas Jefferson Scott
“I find it hard to say,because when I was there it seemed to be shut” – Sir Clement Freud
“If you ever want to kill yourself, but lack the courage, I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick” – John Cleese. The city’s response was to name a landfill Mt Cleese.
- NZ’s first brewery was set up at Kororareka in 1835. These days the top selling beers are Tui, Heineken, Export Gold and Steinlager. If you like craft beer visit our Brewpubs list to find 20+ boutique breweries around NZ.
- Aspiring romance authors take heart – Kiwi Essie Summers (1912-1998) wrote 56 Mills and Boon novels. They sold over 19 million copies in 25 languages and 105 countries. Her first book hit the shops the day after her 45th birthday.
- Sunniest spots in NZ – Napier (North Island) had 2588 sunny hours in 1994. Nelson (South Island) beat that in 1931 with 2711 sunny hours. These days Nelson sells sunshine in a can and advertises itself as the Sunshine City.
- With a population of around 4 million you would think our impact on the environment wouldn’t be too great, but all our cattle and sheep burp and fart around 13 megatonnes of methane each year.
- Over 20,000 people identify as belonging to the Jedi religion according to census information.
- Hot stuff in the North Island – Ruatoria reached 39.2 degrees celsius on 7/2/73. In the South Island, Rangiora and Jordan reached 42.4 degrees celsius on the same day.
- It's just typical of those Aussies to take something Kiwi and make it their own (Russell Crowe, the pavlova). In Melbourne it was the haka - in 2005 two thousand two hundred people set the record for the greatest number of people doing the haka. (For the record, we like Australia and Australians, and we lived in Melbourne for a short time. However you don't need to spend too much time in either country to discover the friendly rivalry that occurs between the two countries, particularly when it comes to sport).
- “Delicacies” you may be able to sample at the Wild Foods Festival in Hokitika – horse, huhu grubs, possum pies, pig’s eye set in macaroni cheese.
- Forget emailing - find one of the first NZ postage stamps that were produced in 1855 and if it’s in good condition it's estimated value is $200,000.
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