Sources include –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; 60 million Gingernuts - A Book of New Zealand Records
by Peter Janssen, and Strange Facts & True about New Zealand by Patricia Chapman, unless otherwise stated. (New trivia added to the top of each section, links checked April 2020).
- Lawrence is believed to be the birthplace of the first bike in New Zealand. In 1894 local blacksmith Patrick O'Leary reportedly hand built the first bicycle in the country. (Destination Clutha guide)
- Some of the unusual vehicles we have photographed on our travels.
- The Wellington Cable Car made its maiden journey on 22 February 1902. In 1926 two million people were transported - more than the population of New Zealand at that time. (Source: Visit to Wellington Cable Car Museum)
- The first two Benz motor cars were imported into NZ in 1898 by Wellington businessman and politician William McLean. In 1899 possibly the third car was imported, it was The Star - follow the link to see a photo.
- Timaru engineer Cecil Wood built a three wheeled motor tricycle and a two seater motorbike, reputed to be the first motorbikes in the country.
- The Wanganui Fire Brigade was the first to be motorised in Australasia.
- In 1908 12 Model T Fords were brought into NZ and sold for 425 pounds each. In 1912 a Model T made the journey from Wellington to Auckland in 8 days and 13 hours, hear about the epic trip. One hundred years later the journey was reenacted.
- 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.
- From a golf trundler and a baby's car seat to the Mountain Buggy.
- The South Canterbury Museum in Timaru has a Richard Pearse collection, Richard Pearse was the pioneer aviator who may (depending on interpretation) have flown before the Wright brothers. (Source: Visit to museum)
- 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. (Source: Visit to Pleasant Point)
- 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).
- The Auckland Harbour Bridge opened on 30 May 1959, it was predicted around 8,000 vehicles would cross daily, in reality it was closer to 13,000 vehicles a day in the first year. By 1970 average daily traffic was 80,000, today an estimated 165,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. (Sources: Rotorua Weekender and NZTA)
- Petrol head alert - Rod Tempero Motor Body Builders in Oamaru hand build and restore classic cars.
- Almost a poem a day .... Invercargill poet and journalist (and a whole lot more besides including an OBE) Mr Frederick Miller had a poem published in the Southland Times six days a week for 32 years - he had more than 10,000 poems published. His last poem went to print in June 1976.
- John Rowles was the first New Zealander to sell more than one million copies of a single internationally. The hit song was 'If I Only Had Time'.
- Not so trivial literary achievements - Keri Hulme won The Booker Prize for fiction in 1985 for 'The Bone People'. In 2013 Eleanor Catton became the youngest winner of The Man Booker Prize for 'The Luminaries'.
- Fred Dagg (John Clarke) recorded 'The Gumboot Song' in 1976 and it remained at number six on the NZ charts for close to four months.
- NZ entertainers the Topp Twins moved between towns in a tractor towing a caravan when they toured the country in 1989.
- In 1914 the first NZ made feature film 'Hinemoa' screened in Auckland at Lyric Theatre.
- The 'Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' was the second film to break the US one billion dollar box office mark. The film was directed by New Zealander Sir Peter Jackson, and in 2004 it won all of the Academy Awards it was nominated for. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies have been phenomenal for NZ tourism. A visit to Hobbiton in Matamata is on the itinerary for many visitors, posts on thecuriouskiwi blog Hobbiton Movie Set Tour and The Green Dragon Inn tell you a bit about what you can expect to experience.
- In 1984 the hit song “Poi E” by the Patea Maori Club was on the charts for 22 weeks. (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 separate decades, it's a classic.
- “How Bizarre” by OMC (Otara Millionaires Club) was a hit song in NZ in 1995. How Bizarre 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)
- Aspiring romance authors take heart – Essie Summers (1912-1998) wrote 56 Mills and Boon novels and sold over 19 million copies in 25 languages and 105 countries. Essie's first book hit the shops the day after her 45th birthday.
- 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 weekly readership is an estimated 950,000. *In the early days the cook book was 'sent unsolicited to every newly engaged couple in New Zealand'.
- The New Zealand Listener was first published in 1939.
- 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".
- Ronald Hugh Morrieson (1922-1972) was an author from Hawera in the Taranaki. Three of his books, "The Scarecrow", "Came A Hot Friday" and "Predicament" 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 it was used to build the wooden bar inside "Morrieson's Cafe & Bar" on Victoria Street in 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).
Food & Drink
- On World Lamington Day (21 July) the biggest lamington in the world was made with 13,000 eggs and put together at Sylvia Park Shopping Centre in Auckland. Social enterprise Cooks Night Off and Creative Edge Foods joined forces to make it happen. (Source: NZ Herald)
- Before L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) soft drink there was Lemon and Te Aroha, a mineral water and lemon mix. Read all about it at Te Aroha Museum.
- RJ's Licorice in Levin set a Guinness World Record in October 2016 for making the largest stripy licorice allsort. (Source: NZ Herald)
- Some of the Cool Kai & Coffee Carts around NZ via thecuriouskiwi/blog.
- In 2014 Kiwis consumed 8.8 million lemonade Popsicles, 10.5 million Trumpets and 2.8 million litres of Tip Top vanilla ice cream. (Source: Idealog magazine)
- You can have your food delivered by pneumatic tube at C1 Espresso in Christchurch - see Super speedy dinner delivery via thecuriouskiwi/blog.
- You can catch prawns for lunch in Taupo at New Zealand's only prawn park - I wanted to be a prawn star via thecuriouskiwi/blog.
- More contenders (see below) for NZ's biggest ice creams are White's Dairy at 16 Vauxhalls Road in Devonport, Auckland. They sell a 10 scoop ice cream for $12 and an 8 scoop for $9.90. State Highway 10 Seafood Takeaways in Waipapa, Northland serve a 15 scoop 'Highway 10 to Hell' weighing in at 2.85kg for $18.60.
- The first cheese and butter exports left NZ on 17 May 1847. The products weren't bound for the Mother Country (England), but for Sydney, Australia. The first shipment of frozen meat left Port Chalmers for London in 1882.
- Premium farmed NZ venison is known as Cervena.
- Tip Top invented the Trumpet in 1964; and 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, there's also a candy floss flavoured ice cream. In 2012 Kiwis bought over 11 million bottles of tomato sauce. (Source: 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 23,964 hectares of grapes are grown in the area. In 2012 15.1 million cases of wine were produced. (Source: Visit to Marlborough)
- The first licensed restaurant to open in NZ was the Gourmet, it opened in 1961 on Auckland's Shortland Street.
- 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 in Dunedin - Cadbury World closed forever in 2018).
- 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). We got our two scoop whoppers (called "Kiddie Cones") from Johnson's Takeaways. Next door an eleven scoop mega whopper was $10, if you're looking for something in between Johnson's had a "Massive Seven Scoops" for $6. We recommend BYO serviettes, plates and spoons.
- NZ’s first brewery was set up at Kororareka in 1835. These days the top selling beers are Tui, Heineken, Export Gold and Steinlager.
- 'Paikaka' was the name of Maori home brew, it was made of maize, kumara and potatoes.
- In 1975 New Zealand's beer consumption peaked at 132 litres per head, per annum.
- Pie and chips - 7,000,000 servings of hot chips are dished out each week and the country consumes around 60,000,000 meat pies a year.
- Over 2,688,000 packets of Griffin's Gingernuts are sold each year.
- $14,656 was the highest price paid for a bottle of wine in 2011, it was a bottle of 1971 Romanee-Conti from Burgundy.
- Could Wanganui be the next wine region? A Spanish settler named Joseph Soler grew grapes and made wine in Wanganui from 1869 until 1906. Around 20,000 bottles were sent to customers around the country.
- Legends Cafe at 15 Afghan Street in Pleasant Point is the original home of Denheath Desserts, famous for its custard squares. (Source: Visit to Legends Cafe - the custard squares are terrific)
- 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.
What visitors have had to say
“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.
Royal Kiwi Connections
- In 1863 the first Maori was born in England, his name was Albert Victor Pomare. Albert was named by his god mother, Queen Victoria.
- Duke of Edinburgh, second son of Queen Victoria was the first member of the British Royal family to visit NZ. He arrived in 1869 onboard HMS Galatea.
- The first reigning monarch to visit New Zealand was Queen Elizabeth II. She visited in 1953 with her husband Duke of Edinburgh.
In 2014 Royal fever broke out when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited with baby Prince George. We caught Royal fever too and saw them in Cambridge - The Duke and Duchess come to Cambridge.
- In 2012 Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall had cameras working overdrive when they danced on the Dance-O-Mat in Christchurch.
- Tane Mahuta Lewis, the son of Gary Lewis originally from Gisborne, is currently 28th in line to the British Throne. Tane Mahuta's mother is Lady Davina Lewis (nee Windsor).
Unusual New Zealand
- Maurice Bennett (25/4/1957 - 6/6/2016) was a toast artist based in Wellington. Elvis Presley, US President Barac Obama and Peter Jackson are a few of the toast portraits he created.
- If you're interested in clocks, the blog post Curious Clocks lists clock museums and curious clocks around the country.
- 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 (Source: New World Supermarket).
- Mapua Giant Pumpkin Competition - In 2011 John McKay grew a 497kg pumpkin, 5 tonnes of horse poo and seaweed were part of the secret recipe. (Source: Mapua Country Trading newsletter, 2011). John McKay's effort in 2012 weighed in at 616kg. (Source: www.stuff.co.nz, 16 April 2012). Read all about giant pumpkin growing in NZ, there's also a Giant Pumpkins NZ Facebook page. Row, row, row your pumpkin! (seriously).
- Bull Rush Chocolates set a Guinness World Record for the world's longest chocolate bar on 11 September 2010. The previous record was 11.57 metres, Bull Rush's record was 14.58 metres (current record holder). To taste chocolates "spanked full of attitude and bursting with the flavours of the school playground" visit Bull Rush in Geraldine (store may now be closed).
- 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 near Arrowtown, and Nelson creek near Greymouth. (A list of Public Gold Fossicking Areas).
- Eltham in Taranaki is famous for cheese scones and you can sample one at the Four Square, 156 High Street. Eltham did hold a Guinness World Record for the biggest scone - 119.45kg. The scone was baked for seven hours and eight minutes in a purpose built oven. Eltham hosts a couple of cheesy events including the Great Eltham Scone Night and the Downhill Cheese Race (via thecuriouskiwi blog).
- 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)
- Whangamomona was declared a Republic in 1988. The "presidents" have included a goat - 'Billy the Kid' and 'Tai' the poodle. Our road trip down the Forgotten World Highway.
- 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 (Tirau's Unusual Toilet), Eketahuna's giant kiwi, Te Puke's giant kiwifruit, Gore's giant trout, Springfield's giant doughnut and Taihape's giant gumboot.
- Gannaway in Temuka are the only bagpipe bag manufacturer in NZ, they export their cowhide bags around the world.
- “Delicacies” you may be able to sample at the Wild Foods Festival in Hokitika – horse, huhu grubs, possum pies and pigs eye set in macaroni cheese.
- 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?)
- The first Sunday in May is National Alpaca Day. Alpaca farms are opened for the public to promote all things alpaca.
- 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).
- One of the smallest libraries in NZ is in Glentunnel, the octagonal library was built in 1886.
- Vacuum cleaner connoisseurs can see a collection of vacuum cleaners through the ages at the South Canterbury Museum on Perth Street in Timaru. (Source: Visit to the museum)
- A 61,214 tonne cruise ship visited Stewart Island in December 2009 raising the population from 400 to 1850. (NZ Herald, December 2009)
- Cromwell is the furtherest town from the sea in NZ, around 120km. Ironically Cromwell's original town centre was flooded in the 1990's to make way for the Clyde Dam - see thecuriouskiwi blog - The town that drowned.
- 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.
- Until the mid 1950's it was not unusual for fathers and sons to dress identically.
- New Zealand farmers complained about the popularity of the miniskirt in the 1960's, they felt it was a threat to the wool industry.
- New Zealanders are affectionately known as Kiwis, the real deal Kiwi is a small, flightless bird that's active 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.
- The Bill & Ben party formed in 2008 with the slogan - "We're putting the party back in political party". Apparently they put $1000 down on a bar in Invercargill because that's where they got the most votes in the 2008 election. (Source: Wikipedia).
- NZ's population reached its first million in 1908, the second in 1952 and the third in 1973.
- The first area to 'go dry' (prohibit the sale of alcohol) was Clutha. Prohibition won the vote in 1893, coincidentally (or not), the first year women were able to vote.
- NZ came close to national Prohibition in 1919. A majority vote was required, 13,896 people voted for Prohibition, however when votes came in from military forces serving overseas they swung the balance to 51% in favour of continuance.
- NZ's longest serving Premier/Prime Minister was Richard Seddon (King Dick), he was elected on 1 May 1893 and died in office on 10 June 1906. Theatre Royal Hotel (via thecuriouskiwblog) on the West Coast remembers local personalities including King Dick and his wife Louisa.
- NZ's youngest Premier/Prime Minister was 37 year old Edward Stafford, he was first elected in 1856 and held the position on and off until 1872.
- Politicians spent almost an entire day in 1856 arguing whether support staff in Parliament should have red cuffs and collars on their uniforms, or plain black. Red cuffs were finally decided on so that support staff would not be 'better dressed than the Members'.
- Wellington has a political themed pub - The Backbencher. The pub's conveniently placed opposite Parliament Buildings on Molesworth Street, it may be a better venue to debate trivial matters like collars and cuffs.
- In 1950/51 there was a monthly average of 38 people out of work. I was told in a social policy university lecture that at one time the Prime Minister would phone those looking for work to see how they were getting on as the number of unemployed was so low.
- NZ invented the Old Age pension, it was introduced in 1898.
- The most marriages occurred 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.
- Between 1 November 2010 and 30 June 2011, 11.4 million library items were borrowed from Auckland libraries. (Source: OurAuckland magazine, November 2011).
- Sunniest spots in NZ – Napier (North Island) had 2588 sunny hours in 1994. Nelson (South Island) beat that in 1931 with 2711 sunny hours.
- With a population of around 4.4 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.
- 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.
- Hot stuff in the North Island – Ruatoria reached 39.2 degrees celsius on 7 February 1973. In the South Island, Rangiora and Jordan reached 42.4 degrees celsius on the same day.
- According to an Auckland mathematician, NZ has more places named after scientists than any other country in the world.
- Dedicated to his career - Dr F.W.W. Dawson was still practising as a doctor in Whangarei in his 99th year. He died just short of his 100th birthday on 23 July 1977.
- Kate Edger was the first woman to be awarded a degree in NZ, she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts from Auckland University in 1877.
- Mrs E.A. Dennis from Warkworth took 62 years to finish her B.A. She started studying in 1913 at Auckland University and completed her degree extramurally via Massey University. She graduated in 1975, she was 81.
- Rina Winifred Moore qualified as a medical doctor in 1949, reputedly the first Maori woman to do so.
- Anne Barry(nee Page) was the first woman to be accepted into firefighter training, the year was 1981. Her fight to be allowed to work in the male dominated profession is told in her book 'Playing with Fire', published in 2007.
- In 1941 the first six policewomen were sworn in, however they were ununiformed and primarily performed office duties. It wasn't until 1949 that the first uniformed policewoman began performing the same duties as male officers.
- Gladys Goodall was a commercial photographer who produced around 1800 postcards under contract for Whitcoulls (formerly Whitcombe and Tombs). She began her working life as a nurse but took up photography at age 44. One of my favourite shots - the largest Pohutukawa tree in the world at Te Araroa. (Source: Good magazine, issue 32)
- The world's first vertigraph is in Whakatane - 43 tiles were hand painted by local artists and laid horizontically on the steps to the left of Rockpit gymnasium on Canning Street. The tiles at the bottom of the steps show the bottom of the sea, as the stairs rise the scene changes to beach, then bush, sky and stars. See a photo via waymarking.com. (Source: Whakatane Summer Holiday Guide 2015)
- Before 1910 mixed bathing and sun bathing were a no no. When it opened in 1933 the Blue Baths in Rotorua was the first place in New Zealand to allow mixed bathing.
- The first bungy jump from a building in NZ was by AJ Hackett in 1988 when he jumped from the Auckland Stock Exchange Tower. Prior to this he had jumped from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In March 1988 the first AJ Hackett commercial Bungy site was opened in Ohakune, in November 1988 the world's first all year round commercial Bungy site was opened at Kawerau Bridge in Queenstown. (AJ Hackett timeline).
An unsung hero in the bungy world is Kiwi Chris Siggelkow. Chris bungy jumped off Nelson's Pelorus Bridge in 1980 and introduced AJ Hackett to bungy jumping in 1986. (See the 3 minute video about Chris Sigglekow - The Jump).
- On 9 November 2016 a lucky couple from Hibiscus Coast won $44 million when they struck first division Lotto and powerball, it's the biggest jackpot in Lotto's history to date. 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Janola is a top selling cleaning product in NZ, it was created by two Aucklanders, one married to Jan, the other to Nola.
- 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.
- A NZ and a world first - Georgina Beyer became NZ's and the world's first transsexual mayor when she was elected mayor of Carterton in 1995. In 1999 she became NZ's and the world's first transsexual MP.
- 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.
- The modern jetboat is a NZ invention, it was designed by William Hamilton in the 1950's - www.hamjet.co.nz.
- Colour TV came to NZ homes in 1973. The first official TV programme screened on 1 June 1960.
- Lorraine Downes is the only New Zealand woman to be crowned Miss Universe, she was crowned in 1983.
- Dunedin (Gaelic for Edinburgh of the South) has achieved quite a few Kiwi firsts - the Otago Daily Times was the first daily newspaper in NZ, it's also our oldest surviving daily paper, it was first published on 15 November 1861; The country's first botanical gardens were established in Dunedin in 1863; The University of Otago is NZ's oldest university and the establishment of the Medical School in 1875 was a NZ first. Initially the programme was limited and students still qualified overseas, the first graduate qualified at Otago Medical School in 1887; NZ's first Public Art Gallery opened in Dunedin in 1884. (Source: Visit to Dunedin)
- In 1901 the NZ Department of Tourist & Health Resorts was established. It was the first government department in the world dedicated to promoting tourism. (Source: NZ Today, April/May 2014)
- Who knew? Thirteen chiefly women signed the Treaty of Waitangi.
- The Southland Marathon held in 1909 was the first full length marathon (42.195km) held in New Zealand. (Source: www.activeqt.co.nz)
- Christchurch was home to the first women's cycling club - Atalanta Cycling Club formed in 1892. (Source: Lost Christchurch)
- The first game of rugby 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.
- In 2011 the Rugby World Cup was hosted by New Zealand and matches were played in towns and cities up and down the Islands. The 'icing on the cake' for the country was when the All Blacks beat France (just) 8-7, to win the cup after a 24 year wait. The men in black won the cup again in 2015 after beating Australia 34 - 17 in the Rugby World Cup final played at Twickenham in London.
- Cricket is the oldest organised sport to be played in NZ, the first match took place in Nelson in 1844.
- The country's greatest Olympian is Ian Ferguson who won three gold medals at the Los Angeles Olympics and one at the Seoul Olympics. Valerie Adams has done NZ proud too, winning gold at both the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.
- The NZ men's softball team won world titles in 1976, 1984, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2013.
- Dame Susan Devoy was women's world squash champion in 1985, 1987, 1990 and 1992.
- In 1981 Alison Roe became the first New Zealander to win the New York marathon, Rod Dixon became the second in 1983.
- Cambridge - 'The Town of Trees and Champions' has produced 13 Melbourne Cup winners.
- In 1957 Ruia Morrison-Davy (awarded an MBE for services to Maori people and NZ tennis) became the first NZ woman to play at Wimbledon.
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