From biotech breakthroughs to a beautiful banknote

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Written By Jean Kite Taylor

According to this rather fanciful map New Zealand leads the world in sheep and rugby. But there is much more

This may seem a little unfair for a country that was the first to give women the vote, scale Mt Everest and split the atom. Of course there is more to Middle Earth than All Blacks and woolly jumpers.

Scratch the surface and you’ll find New Zealand has many hidden talents and is a veritable hub of innovation and industry.

  1. Beating cancer and other biotech breakthroughs

Using the body’s immune system to fight cancer is just one of the incredible biomedical discoveries that Kiwis have made in recent years. According to a recent study, New Zealand ranks third in the world for its biotech potential and its scientists are leading the charge to conquer cancer, cure Parkinson’s disease, tests for prostate cancer and may have even found a cure for migraines. Read More.

  1. Look up! Look down! Look out! Jetpacks are real

Once the stuff of science fiction fantasy, jetpacks are now a reality thanks to a clever Kiwi named Glenn Martin. He invented a personal aircraft, The Martin Jetpack that looks like something out of a Bond flick and allows the ‘pilot’ to fly using fingertip controls. Very soon we could all be blasting our way out of sticky situations, á la Sean Connery.

Fun fact: Kiwis also invented bungee jumping, zorbing, the eggbeater and jet boating. See Great Kiwi Inventions

  1. Freakishly talented sportspeople

The Telegraph describes the All Blacks as ‘one of the most extraordinarily successful sporting dynasties on the planet.’ Rugby is certainly strong in New Zealand but Kiwis also punch above their weight in many other sports. From golf to shot-put, kayaking, rowing and motorsport, there are Kiwi legends like Lydia Ko, Scott Dixon and Ian Ferguson winning on the world stage.

Fun Fact: Excluding the United States, New Zealand is one of only two countries to win and then successfully defend the America’s Cup title, the other being Switzerland.

  1. Cape Canaveral move over – Mahia, we have lift-off!

Mahia is a small settlement on New Zealand’s east coast and is about to become a hub for the aerospace industry as Kiwi company, RocketLab prepares to begin launching rockets from this quiet coastal town.

RocketLab is a game changer when it comes to the space industry. Thanks to clever Kiwi design, 3D printing and light lithium polymer batteries this innovative Kiwi company intends to send satellites into space for about NZ$7.3 million, compared with the current price for other companies of more than NZ$100m.

  1. Wellington’s world-class coffee culture

Italians may have invented espresso but Kiwis have taken café culture to a whole new level.

Drinking coffee is now considered a national pastime and they even have their own unique brew, the ubiquitous ‘Flat White.’ Wellington is the spot for the best cup of coffee in New Zealand (it is ranked in the top eight coffee cities of the world) but it shouldn’t be too hard to find good coffee anywhere in this caffeine-crazed country.

  1. Landscapes ‘that make you want to applaud’

For the fourth year in a row, New Zealand had been named the ‘world’s best country’ in the 2016 Telegraph Travel Awards. Praised for its outstanding landscapes and ‘magnificent Maori culture’, the British judges also loved New Zealand’s ‘extraordinary kakapo’ and unsurprisingly, its strong ties to Britain. See also: 26 reasons why New Zealand is the world’s best country.

  1. Best banknote in the world

Finally, it may not be the Oscars, but New Zealand’s ‘stunning’ new $5 note was recently named Best Banknote of the Year by the International Bank Note Society. The new fiver pipped nearly 40 designs from 20 countries to take out top spot. Now that’s something to be proud of!