New Zealand's Firsts© Wikipedia
New Zealand's Firsts

New Zealand’s Firsts

© Wikipedia
Article Single Pages©
Article Single Pages©
NZ Pocket Guide is 10 years old. Thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade!

What Did New Zealand Do First?

Despite being one of the last large landmasses to be turned into a nation, New Zealand is a nation of firsts. It is a leading country in social achievements, as well as a few awesome adrenaline activity inventions. In this list, we’ll go through some of New Zealand’s firsts so you can impress everyone you know with your New Zealand knowledge. So what exactly did New Zealand do first? What happened in this country before anywhere else in the world?

For more fun facts to add to your New Zealand encyclopedia, check out the 10 Things You Did Not Know About New Zealand and New Zealand in Numbers.

First Votes for Women

In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. It was 25 years before USA and UK followed suit.

Public Domain© Public Domain

First Bungy Jump

AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch did a few experimental jumps with bungy cords. One thing leads to another, and they set up the first commercial bungy jump on the Kawarau Bridge, near Queenstown. See where you can take the leap yourself in our 7 Epic Places to Bungy Jump in New Zealand.

© AJ Hackett

First to Climb Mt Everest

New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary, was the first to reach the summit of Mt Everest the highest mountain in the world. His face marks the NZ$5 note.

© Public Domain

First to Step on Antarctica

New Zealander, Alexander von Tunzelmann, was amongst the first crew to step onto Antarctica.

Pixabay© Pixabay

First Country to Have Three Women in Power Simultaneously

The Prime Minister (Helen Clark), the Governor-General (Dame Siliva Cartwright), and the Chief Justice (Sian Elias).

© keepcalm-o-matic

First Country to Introduce the 8-hour Work Day

Errr… thanks, New Zealand. Why couldn’t it be one-hour work days? Labour Day is a public holiday to commemorate this, introduced in 1899.

© Public Domain

First World Heritage Site… in the Sky

The International Dark Sky Association declared the sky above the Mackenzie region in the South Island as the first International Dark Sky Reserve for its clear skies. Perfect for stargazing!

New Zealand's Firsts© Unsplash

First Transgender MP

In 1999, Georgina (originally George) was the first transexualMP in the world. She was voted by the good people of Wairarapa.

Montrealais on Wikipedia© Montrealais on Wikipedia

First Powered Flight

But wait, wasn’t that the Wright brothers (USA)? They made the first documented flight. However, 8 months earlier Richard Pearse made a flight with a homemade aircraft. But the camera-shy Pearse didn’t want to record it with officials.

© Public Domain

First Jet Boat

The first jet boat was invented by Kiwi, William Hamilton, in 1954. It became a commercial adrenaline activity in 1964 on the Shotover River near Queenstown. Find out where you can hop into one of these speedy things in the 17 Places to Jet Boat in New Zealand.©

Aims to be the First Country with 100% Renewable Energy

one of the leading countries in renewable energy, NZ aims for 100% renewable energy by 2025. Hurry up, New Zealand!©


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

Was this article useful?