Feb 16 2015Five Things I Didn’t Know About New Zealand
Cook Straight runs North-South, not East-West
The South Island is not immediately below the North Island – in fact the two islands overlap.
To travel from Nelson (on the South Island) to Wellington (on the North Island) you travel east and a bit south.
The Maori arrived in New Zealand relatively recently.
New Zealand was first settled by polynesians people who travelled there by canoe about 700 years ago, about 500 years before the Pakeha (Europeans) arrived.
New Zealand has no native land mammals
When the Maori first arrived in New Zealand, there were no native land mammals. Perhaps this is why their birds are flightless. There are lots of Weka birds (pictured), but most Kiwis have never seen a Kiwi in the wild. There are now many introduced species, including 39 million sheep, 6.4 million dairy cows, and NZ’s favourite import, the possum.
New Zealand may have been completely submerged 23 Million Years Ago
The islands of New Zealand are part of a continental fragment (Zealandia) that broke off from Australia about 70 million years ago. Many people believe that it was completely submerged 23 million years ago. 93% of the land mass of Zealandia remains submerged.
New Zealand has more earthquakes than I thought
About 20,000 earthquakes are recorded in New Zealand each year, of which 200 are strong enough to be felt.
Wellington in particular is prone to earthquakes.
Fatalities are generally uncommon – the two earthquakes that stand out are Napier in 1931, in which 256 people died, and the Christchurch earthquake of 2011, in which 185 people died. I think I’d rather have snakes.
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