1. The birds
Let’s start with the obvious! The most unique thing about New Zealand has to be its wildlife, especially the birds. Many of New Zealand’s birds can only be found in New Zealand – there’s no other place in the world where you can see them. From the famous flightless kiwi bird to the world’s only alpine parrot the kea, New Zealand gives you a unique opportunity to see some intriguing birds. If you’re not into birds before visiting New Zealand, you certainly will be by the time you leave.
Want to learn more about New Zealand’s unique birds? Check out 20 Animals and Birds Unique to New Zealand.
2. the insects
Thankfully, there are no insects that are going to kill you in New Zealand, although you might want to avoid a bite from a white-tailed spider. In fact, its insects that should avoid other insects as New Zealand is home to the world’s largest carnivorous snail, the powelliphanta, which sucks up worms like spaghetti. Additionally, giant wetas, an insect related to crickets, is one of the largest insects in the world weighing up to 70g.
Learn more about New Zealand’s insects in 20 Animals and Birds Unique to New Zealand.
3. The Maori culture
The first people to settle in New Zealand were the Maori, Polynesian explorers whose origin is not 100% decided. The Maori have cultivated a unique culture of New Zealand where every landmark you see has a myth or legend behind it. Experience the Maori culture for yourself in New Zealand by watching a cultural show with song and dance known as kapa haka, or join in for a hangi meal.
See where you can enjoy the Maori culture in 10 Places to Experience Maori Culture in New Zealand.
4. The cuisine
Aside from delicious Hangi, which is food slow-cooked in an earth oven, there are many foods that New Zealand is proud to call its own. Take L&P, Lemon & Paeroa – a soft drink which is as readily available in New Zealand as Coke and Sprite. There’s also the delicious Whittaker’s Chocolate blocks coming in many different flavour combinations. Finally, try a pavlova from the country that invented it.
And the list goes on in 17 Unique New Zealand Foods.
5. The accommodation
That’s right, there are some pretty unique and wonderful accommodation options around the country which are an experience in itself. Of course, you may have the opportunity to stay at Maraes or Maori meeting grounds. Or how about staying in a Hobbit Hole, a train carriage or a giant shoe?
Check out all the weird and wonderful accommodations in 13 Most Unique Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand, 11 Unique Accommodations in the North Island and 10 Unique Accommodations in the South Island.
6. The untouched landscape
Ok, so other countries have beaches, mountains, volcanoes, lakes, rivers, etc. But New Zealand is said to have landscapes which are said to be the best modern example of Gondwanaland, particularly in the Fiordland National Park. This World Heritage Area is like stepping back in time to the Jurassic period – an experience you will struggle to find elsewhere.
Learn more about this World Heritage Area in 10 Reasons Why Haast has World Heritage Status.
7. The Activities
New Zealand holds some pretty unique things to do. Where else can you go black water rafting under a galaxy of glowworms? Where else can hike on an active marine volcano? See a colossal squid in a museum? Land on a glacier in a ski plane? There are so many weird and wonderful things to do in New Zealand that makes it super unique.
Make your bucket list with 10 Things You Can Only Do in New Zealand.
8. The Filming Locations
New Zealand has been chosen as the backdrop to many movies, most famously The Lord of the Rings. Take a look at 12 Movies Shot In New Zealand for more titles. These film locations can only be found in New Zealand because, well, they were filmed in New Zealand.
Start finding The Lord of the Rings filming locations with 23 Lord of the Rings Locations You Cant Miss in New Zealand
9. the first city to see the sun
Because of New Zealand’s position on the International Date Line, it actually holds the first city in the world to see the sunrise of a new day. Gisborne on the East Coast of the North Island is the first city to start the new day. It also famously hosts the New Year’s Eve festival, Rhythm & Vines, in celebration of being among the first to welcome in the new year.
Find out more about Gisborne in Gisborne Guide for Backpackers.
10. the night skies
The largest International Dark Sky Reserve in the Southern Hemisphere is right here in New Zealand. It’s one of the world’s best places to see the southern night skies. What’s more, it’s often possible to see the Southern Lights, aka, Aurora Australis.
Find out more in 5 Stargazing Sites in New Zealand.