Celebrities from New Zealand© Gage Skidmore on Flickr
Celebrities from New Zealand

14 Celebrities from New Zealand

© Gage Skidmore on Flickr

Small Country: Big Stars! Here are the Most Famous New Zealanders

With only 5 million people in New Zealand, it is pretty hard to secure a place in celebrity magazines. And it’s not like the 30 million sheep are going to help! Nevertheless, we’ve still managed to spruce up a list of top celebrities from New Zealand. Did you know any of these stars were from New Zealand?

From singers to actors, New Zealand has its fair share of famous people that you may want to familiarise yourself with. So, you know, to get a photo when you spot them in the New World supermarket

For more things about New Zealand, check out the 10 Things You Did Not Know About New Zealand. Plus, if you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, be sure to bookmark The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand for even more interesting tips. But for now, let’s go over our list of celebrities from New Zealand.

1. Lorde

Kicking off our list of famous New Zealanders is Lorde. Lorde hit the big time with her first single Royals which won three Grammy Awards, and since then has released numerous award-winning albums such as Pure Heroine, Melodrama and Solar Power. She can still be seen playing New Zealand festivals.

Celebrities from New Zealand© Annette Geneva on Wikipedia

2. Russell Crowe

The world-famous “gladiator” was born in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. However, he has lived most of his life in Australia. He’s a BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award-winning actor starring in over 50 films. No doubt that he is the most famous of all the New Zealand actors.

Celebrities from New Zealand© Paul Cush on Wikipedia

3. Peter Jackson

When looking for famous people from New Zealand, Peter Jackson is always around the top of the list. His work on The Lord of the Rings shot him straight to stardom and branded New Zealand as “Middle-earth”. Learn more about his work at the Weta Workshop in Wellington.

Celebrities from New Zealand© Gage Skidmore on Flickr

4. Taika Waititi

Fast becoming one of the biggest celebrities from New Zealand, filmmaker and director, Taika Waititi directed the likes of Thor: Ragnarok and Thor: Love and Thunder, as well as hit New Zealand movies like Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. He has received an Academy Award nomination for Two Cars, One Night and has played acting roles in Thor: Ragnarok, Boy, Green Lantern, Free Guy and more.

Celebrities from New Zealand© Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia

5. Flight of the Conchords

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie formed New Zealand’s funniest band. They also had a hit TV series also named Flight of the Conchords. For more Flight of the Conchords, check out our list of the 10 best NZ ads from the TV show. The duo of New Zealand actors also features in the Avatar sequels.

Celebrities from New Zealand© Kim Metso on Wikipedia

6. Cliff Curtis

Born in Rotorua, Cliff Curtis has featured in many TV series like The Walking Dead. He also has a few movies under his belt, such as Live Free or Die Hard, Training Day, and NZ-made movie Boy.

Celebrities from New Zealand© Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia

7. Karl Urban

RED, Star Trek, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Bourne Supremacy, The Lord of the Rings, Dredd, Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerKarl Urban is a busy actor with roles in one blockbuster after the other. But that’s not all; the restless actor is also the lead in the popular Amazon show The Boys where he fights evil superheroes.

Celebrities from New Zealand© Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia

8. Keith Urban

Another famous New Zealander who spends most of his time in the US is Nicole Kidman‘s hubby and country singer, Keith Urban. He won a Grammy and a Golden Globe for his soundtrack contribution to the movie Act of Valor.

Celebrities from New Zealand© J-smith.17 at English Wikipedia

9. Anthony Starr

The terrifying leader of the Seven in the Amazon series “The Boys” is a Kiwi too! In the show, he plays opposite Karl Urban (see above), another New Zealand actor on this list. Starr is quoted to say: “We’ve got an American show with a Kiwi playing an all-American hero psychopath and another Kiwi playing an Englishman. It’s a pretty bizarre mix-up.” We agree!

13 Celebrities from New Zealand© Amazon Studios

10. Sonny Bill Williams

The “sexiest rugby player” is a true product of New Zealand. He is most famous for his career as an All Black, the New Zealand rugby union team. He also played rugby league and is a heavyweight boxer. Other famous rugby players include Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. Admittedly, Sonny Bill Williams may not be the most famous New Zealand celebrity around the globe, but he is a megastar here.

Celebrities from New Zealand© Gerard Barrau on Wikipedia

11. Lucy Lawless

Here comes the most famous of all the New Zealand actresses. That’s right, Xena the Warrior Princess is from New Zealand! Lucy Lawless also acted in Battlestar Galactica, Parks and Recreation and for a glorious three seconds in Spider-Man.

Celebrities from New Zealand© Gage Skidmore on Flickr

12. Martin Henderson

Dr Nathan Riggs is a Kiwi too. Born in Auckland in 1974, Martin Henderson has starred in New Zealand TV shows such as Shortland Street, as well as US shows such as Grey’s Anatomy. On the big screen, Martin Henderson is famous for his roles in Little Fish, Smokin’ Aces and Everest.

10 Celebrities from New Zealand© ABC Network / Disney

13. Kimbra

Kiwi-born Kimbra Lee Johnson, more commonly known as Kimbra, is a singer-songwriter. Her debut album, Vows, reached the top five in the New Zealand and Australian charts and 14 on the Billboard 200 in the US. Most know Kimbra, however, for her feature on the multi-platinum single Somebody That I Used to Know with Gotye which earned her two Grammy Awards.

11 Celebrities from New Zealand© Fred von Lohmann on Flickr - Public Domain

14. Edmund Hillary

Did you know that the first man to climb Mt Everest, along with Tenzing Norgay, was from New Zealand? Edmund Hillary, or officially Sir Edmund Percival Hillary KG ONZ KBE, became the first to reach the summit of Mt Everest with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on 29 May 1953. Hillary lived from 1919 to 2008. Learn more about the famous New Zealander in our guide to Who are the People on the New Zealand Banknotes?

12 Celebrities from New Zealand© Public Domain

Celebrities from New Zealand: Honourable Mentions

Where is the line between “celebrity” and “famous person”? Well, here are some more of the famous New Zealanders you might have heard of that didn’t quite make it to our list of celebrities from New Zealand.

  • Jacinda Ardern – New Zealand prime minister
  • Keith Park – The WW1 military commander was given command of No. 11 Group in the Battle of Britain, 1940
  • Kiri Te Kanawa – Opera singer
  • Ernest Rutherford – Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner (find out more in Who are the People on the New Zealand Banknotes?)
  • Steven Adams – NBA star for Oklahoma City Thunder.

That’s it for our list of celebrities from New Zealand. Interested in more things from New Zealand? How about these 16 Products of New Zealand or 10 Businesses that are Putting New Zealand on the Map?


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

Was this article useful?