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.
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