New Zealand culture: Land of kiwis, extreme sports and risky gamesFeature of the week
One of the world’s least populated countries, New Zealand is a place full of travellers and welcomers – with a capital city that enjoys around 2,110 hours of sunshine a year (a mere 1,481 hours in London). No one is farther than 120km from the coast and there are 13 National Parks protecting and preserving the landscape, which, altogether, take up a third of the country. The people love their cars, the outdoors and the All Blacks, and are proud of their multiculturalism. Even a fashion brand called I Love Ugly can become a success.
A NZ dollar, a New Zealander, a flightless, nocturnal bird and a nutrient-dense fruit: all these are referred to as a Kiwi. The country has been exporting kiwi fruits – originally called Chinese gooseberries – since the 1950s, and this has since grown to be a billion-dollar industry. The kiwi bird is native to New Zealand and is featured on the one dollar coin as well as being the National Air Force logo. Unfortunately, many species of this bird are endangered or under threat from predators, lost habitat and humans, so there are multiple organisations dedicated to protecting this national symbol.
“Bring a plate”
The custom of asking your guests to “bring a plate” to a gathering or party is commonly practised. It’s also a slang phrase that has confused many people who think they’re expected to bring their own tableware when in fact they are invited to bring some nibbles to share. Other slang phrases that Kiwis use include the contradictory “Yeah-Nah”, the carefree “She’ll be alright” and “Dairy”, which refers to a convenience store rather than a place for milking cows.
Although invented in the UK, bungee jumping was first commercialised in New Zealand and Kiwis have cultivated their reputation for taking risks and providing travellers and tourists with the chance to take on some extreme sports. Even if it’s rugby that’s the national sport, New Zealanders relish a bit of a challenge when it comes to adventure experiences: canyoning in the mountains, skydiving, jet boating, water rafting or caving are all more thrill-seeking ways of seeing the country’s spectacular vistas. There’s even a growing culture of risky games which you can read more about on websites such as casino magazine or more established like the Stuff.
A peaceful place
New Zealand was named the most peaceful country in the world in 2009, and second in 2017, by the Global Peace Index, which measures the rates of homicide and incarceration, access to weapons, and levels of militarisation and terrorism – Kate and William went there on their royal tour. The country has continued to rank highly every year since Iceland took back their position at the top of the Index in 2011.
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