“And above all else, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl
As a writer, I have amassed quite a collection of quotes that I find so exquisitely articulate the human experience, but that one is my absolute favorite. There are two types of magic, that which is manufactured by man, which is merely illusion, manipulation of perception so you see what the magician wants you to see and then there’s the magic created by God which is the only true form of magic and exists in a pure state for each of us to discover.
During the press coverage of the Royal Trio’s Visit to New Zealand, we’ve seen Kate Middleton’s clothes, what’s under her clothes, and in the Buckingham Palace Press Office’s slight of hand to create the illusion of a monarchy the republic-bound New Zealand would want to keep, we’ve missed a bit of what makes New Zealand so incredible with or without the Crown.
Instead of focusing on the show, I thought I’d turn my glittering eyes to New Zealand itself and list just some of the fascinating facts about this country where true magic exists within the land and its warm and welcoming people.
The island country which is roughly the size of Colorado is only inhabited by a little over four million people, which is about half the population of New York City. No spot in New Zealand is further than 80 miles from the ocean and there’s a lot of beauty packed in between the coastal shores.
New Zealand is a country of firsts. It sees the first rays of light for each new day, was the first country to give women the right to vote, and first to provide pension entitlement for all citizens. New Zealanders were the first to make it to Antarctica, first to make it to the top of Mount Everest and the first to split an atom.
It’s only been inhabited by humans for about eight hundred years.
The national symbol is this cutie, the Kiwi:
Kate may be a Duchess by marriage, but she’s no Warrior Princess. The beautiful landscape of New Zealand was where Xena: Warrior Princess was shot. The show employed a lot of New Zealand natives including the luscious Lucy Lawless as Xena and the smolderingly sexy Kevin Tod Smith as Ares, both incredibly cool down-to-Earth actors. Hot and humble, that’s how they role in New Zealand. Sadly the world lost Kevin Smith in 2002, he keeps company with more Heavenly bodies now and remains alive in this plane in the hearts of fans, friends and the family to which he was so deeply devoted.
The country was also the filming site for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, directed by New Zealand native, Peter Jackson. Don’t we all secretly suspect that Kate Middleton calls Princess Diana’s engagement ring, “My Precious”?
New Zealanders have a way with words and the ladies. You can visit a spot called Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukaka- pikimaungahoronukupokaiwenuakitanatahu which means, “”the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as Landeater, played his flute to his loved one.” Tamatea went to a lot of effort for the woman he loved, most of us are lucky if a guy just buys us dinner.
New Zealand has an official Wizard.
In a 2001 census poll, more than 50,000 named “Jedi” as their religious affiliation. May the Force be with you, Kiwi Jedis, as you free yourself from the Empire.
Unlike Australia which hosts some of the world’s deadliest creatures, the fauna of New Zealand is totally chill. I mean, like all wildlife, it should be respected, but none of it is looking for a fight or wants to attack or eat you.
There are some adorably cute record holders like the endemic Hector’s Dolphin which is the smallest in the world.
New Zealand is also the only country where you can find the world’s rarest sea lion, the Hooker’s Sea Lion. This regal sea mammal kind of sounds like it should be the official mascot of ladies of the night and is one of New Zealand’s largest animals.
Sea lions are just inherently awesome, but penguins have always occupied a very special place in my heart. New Zealand has a Penguin Triumvirate, two of which, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin and the Tawaki are endemic. The third, the Little Blue Penguin, also known as the Fairy Penguin, is the smallest in the world, standing a little over a foot tall and is armed only with the super power of preciousness. Unfortunately they are vulnerable to predators and pollution, but if any creature is going to get humanity to understand the devastating effects of our ecological apathy, it’s these enchanting semi-aquatic sprites.
In a land of filled with visual feasts of flora, captivating creatures, creative visionaries, fearless adventurers, warm hearts, rich culture, and unfettered spirits, if you can’t find magic, you should probably have your glittering eyes checked.