Because we’re not just about sheep and hobbits
Much like if you Google yourself then discover something even you didn’t know about, the internet is home to a lot of interesting myths about New Zealand (many of them sheep- or Lord of the Rings-related). While there are loads of great things about this fair land (we don’t want to gloat but … OK, we will), some of the rumours you’ve heard are not true. Read on to find out which legends have some degree of truth to them, and which are worth ignoring completely.
Misconception #1: Hobbits do not live in New Zealand.
They live in Russia … jokes. While the world-famous The Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand, it’s not a documentary (although those hobbity feet are pretty darn sexy). Yes, there’s a real Hobbiton in New Zealand (you can visit the Hobbiton film set in Matamata), but unless you take your shrivelled grandfather along for the ride, you’re unlikely to see an actual hobbit while you’re there.
Misconception #2: New Zealand is a small country.
New Zealand is a million miles away from pretty much anywhere in the world, but the legend that we’re a tiny nation is not true. In fact, we’ve actually got more space than the United Kingdom, Uganda, Cuba and Cambodia, and we’re not that far behind the likes of Italy and Poland. Of course we don’t have nearly as many people as those nations (in the 2013 census we clocked 4.471 million people), but hey, all the more room for the sheep, right?
Misconception #3: New Zealand is home to 60 million sheep.
Um, no. There was once a legend that for every one person there were at least 20 sheep (and maybe that legend had quite a large degree of truth to it), but at last count there were roughly 31.2 million sheep, which is seven per person, give or take … OK, so we have to admit that there are more sheep than humans in New Zealand, but that doesn’t mean the government gives us seven pet lambs each every spring. New Zealanders are also outnumbered by cattle so it’s not just a sheep thing. You see that milk you’re drinking and woollen jumper you’re wearing? Ewe can thank the millions of animals in New Zealand for those. (And for the record, we also don’t shag sheep. Well, the people we know don’t, anyway.)
Misconception #4: Lorde is only 17.
Um, guys. Where have you been living? Lorde turned 18 last month. Gosh. Did you not know she was from New Zealand either?
Misconception #5: New Zealand is part of Australia.
You know how Canadians hate being mistaken for Americans? Or how the Irish aren’t massive fans of the British? That’s kind of like our relationship with Australia. We are 100% independent from Australia, although at some point in time our governments were talking about doing something nifty with our passports so we could get into each other’s countries far easier than everyone else. We have our own national anthem, our own flags (albeit quite similar), our own accents (of course they’re different!), and the All Blacks are the current reigning world champs in rugby – and don’t you forget it!
Misconception #6: Russell Crowe is an Australian.
New Zealand has a rule when it comes to fame. Some call it greedy; we call it patriotic. If you were born somewhere else then move to New Zealand and become famous, you’re a New Zealander – think Anna Paquin (Canada), Sam Neill (UK) and Irene van Dyk (South Africa). The same rule applies in reverse. If you were born here then move somewhere else and become famous, you’re also a New Zealander – like Russell Crowe (Wellington), Melanie Lynskey (New Plymouth) and the pavlova (Wellington, according to Wikipedia).