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New Zealand Culture

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New Zealand Sports

Sport has a major role in New Zealand's culture; this is particularly the case with rugby union. Other popular sports include cricket, netball, basketball, lawn bowling, soccer (perhaps surprisingly, the most popular football code in terms of participation in New Zealand) and rugby league.

Also popular are golf, tennis, cycling, field hockey, skiing, snowboarding, softball (current Men's International Softball Federation World Champions, 1996, 2000, 2004) and a variety of water sports, particularly surfing, sailing, whitewater kayaking, surf lifesaving skills and rowing. In the latter, New Zealand enjoyed an extraordinary magic 45 minutes when winning four successive gold medals at the 2005 world championships.

International Recognition

The country is internationally recognised for performing well on a medals-to-population ratio at Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games. Equestrian sportsmen and sportswomen make their mark in the world, with Mark Todd being chosen international "Horseman of the Century".

New Zealand's most famous sportsperson is Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Other internationally famous New Zealand sportspeople include cricket player Sir Richard Hadlee, rugby player Jonah Lomu, sailor Sir Peter Blake and 2005 US Open golf tournament winner Michael Campbell.

The top five sports played in clubs
by boys aged 5 to 17:
17% Soccer
16% Rugby union
14% Swimming
8% Cricket
8% Hockey

The top five sports played in clubs
by girls aged 5 to 17:
17% Swimming
13% Netball
10% Horse riding
8% Tennis
6% Soccer

The top five sports played by men:
26% Golf
15% Cricket
14% Tennis
14% Touch football
11% Rugby union

The top five sports played by women:
11% Netball
10% Tennis
9% Golf
7% Touch football
7% Skiing

Rugby Union

Rugby union is closely linked to New Zealand's national identity. The national rugby team, the All Blacks, has the best record of any national team. They hosted and won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, and will host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The haka, a traditional Ma-ori challenge, is traditionally performed by the All Blacks before the start of international matches.


Cricket is regarded as New Zealand's main summer sport, and the New Zealand cricket team (known as 'The Black Caps') usually ranks in the top six teams in the world in both test cricket and the shorter one day forms of the game.


Netball is New Zealand's most prominent women's sport, and the New Zealand national team, the Silver Ferns, have been world champions on several occasions. New Zealand is one of the leading nations in world yachting, especially open-water long-distance or round-the-world races. In inshore yachting, Team New Zealand won the America's Cup regatta in 1995 and successfully defended it in 2000.


Sport & Recreation New Zealand
New Zealand Soccer
Swimming New Zealand
New Zealand Rugby Union
Netball New Zealand
Equestrian Sports New Zealand
Tennis New Zealand
New Zealand Cricket
New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation


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