New Zealanders have a lot to boast about. Despite having a relatively small population, the country has developed a unique, welcoming culture, an enviable lifestyle for its inhabitants, and renowned international sporting prowess. There are also a surprising number of household names who call New Zealand home. And this is all without mentioning the incredible, varied landscapes and the fascinating heritage which have led to New Zealand becoming a world famous tourist destination. In no particular order, here are a few things that New Zealanders have to shout about…

The All Blacks

Top Things New Zealanders Have To Be Proud Of

Fierce, intimidating and merciless, New Zealand’s international rugby team are the epitome of sporting domination. The current Rugby World Cup holders are the only international rugby team to have a winning record against every country that they have played against, and current captain Richie McCaw can expect their supremacy to continue at the next World Cup in England, 2015.    

The Haka

The Haka is a pre-game ritual (DON’T CALL IT A DANCE, at least not to their faces) which the All Blacks perform before each game. It’s based on the ferocious call to arms of the New Zealand Māori, traditionally used to prepare a war party for battle. Arguably this should come under the same point as the All Blacks, but Jesus, have you not seen it? Without doubt the famous Haka is worthy of its own entry. In many ways it has developed into its own entity, having successfully intimidated opposition rugby players for well over 100 years. Simply put, there is nothing else in sport which can compare.

Wine

Top Things New Zealanders Have To Be Proud Of

Given that the first two things New Zealanders have to be proud of involve brute force and downright intimidation, you could be forgiven for thinking the Kiwis lack the subtlety required to produce some of the world’s finest wines. You’d be wrong. From chardonnays to pinot noirs, the unique combination of soil, climate and water, blended with a genuine commitment to excellence, merge to deliver a number of clean, intense and diverse wines.

Innovation

Top Things New Zealanders Have To Be Proud Of

New Zealanders should also be proud that some of their more alternative extreme sports have made it into the mainstream. In 1988, Bungee pioneers AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch jumped quite literally to global attention after introducing the first ever commercial Bungee jumping site from the top of the historic Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown. The sport has completely taken off since, but would be nowhere near the worldwide sensation it is today if it wasn’t for a couple of innovate New Zealanders. On top of that, 1994 saw the Akers brothers invent the concept of Zorbing, an activity which, on the face of it, sounds pretty ridiculous. I have however been reliably informed that it is extremely fun, and that there are few better ways to spend an afternoon in New Zealand than rolling down a mountain inside an inflatable ball.

The revival of Christchurch

Top Things New Zealanders Have To Be Proud Of

Quick warning: This is perhaps a more serious note within what is quite a light hearted list of things -sorry to ruin the mood. The rebuilding of Christchurch since it was hit by a series of devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 has been nothing short of an absolute inspiration. Not only have the locals faced up to the challenge with an incredibly positive attitude, but new developments in the city, including the fantastic Gap Filler project and the mesmerising Cardboard Cathedral, has seen a modern and wonderfully creative Christchurch begin to emerge from the rubble. Well done. 

The most beautiful place on earth?

Top Things New Zealanders Have To Be Proud Of

It seems an obvious one, but New Zealand is possibly the most photogenic country in the world, and if that isn’t something to be proud of, I don’t know what is. From the epic Mount Ngauruhoe in the North, to the South Island’s remarkable Franz Josef Glacier, Abel Tasman National Park and Milford Sound – Just to name a few! – there really is an endless list of sights and landscapes that will take your breath away again and again and again. And again.

The home of the Lord of the Rings

Top Things New Zealanders Have To Be Proud Of

New Zealand is home to both Peter Jackson and his film adaptation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The masterpiece was entirely shot in New Zealand, making the most of the incredible scenery, using much of the country’s rugged landscape as the backdrop for Middle Earth. As well as being the birthplace of one of the world’s most successful movie directors and the setting for his greatest achievement to date, other films made in New Zealand include the Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Samurai, and The Hobbit Trilogy.