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Down Under: New Zealand's fight to get back on world maps

Nadja Beschetnikova
May 3, 2018

Usually, a man wouldn't doubt the existence of any country if he was not there personally. In the case of New Zealand, things are different. And even if you know that it is located somewhere near Australia, sometimes the maps claim the opposite. It is not there. It does not exist at all.

Among the institutions that embezzled the state with its approximately 4.8 million inhabitants were the UN, the BBC and the world-renowned US museum association Smithsonian. The Swedish furniture store Ikea has also eliminated New Zealand, which is actually is larger than Great Britain and, on maps.

The country perceives a lack of knowledge in geography with a touch of irony. If you search the official New Zealand website for content that is not available, an error message appears. The visitor is told in black letters: "Sorry, something is missing...". Below the message follows a world map - without New Zealand.

But it seems that even the irony has its limits. New Zealand has started a campaign which should bring the Pacific state back on world maps. The action under hashtag #getNZonthemap also has the official support of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The youngest prime minister in the history of New Zealand starred in a campaign video with the popular comedian Rhys Darby.

The video begins with Darby getting an anonymous tip-off saying the country is disappearing from maps, which to his horror, is confirmed by a quick Internet search.

The investigation, which reveals that New Zealand is missing from maps in Getty’s stock photo library, and Starbucks cafes, is still permeated with subtle humor. Darby discovers several conspiracy theories, including accusing Australia of “stealing” their tourists. Or claiming that France is alarmed by New Zealand’s global wine industry. Self-irony remains a huge part of the hilarious video as Darby says that New Zealand looks like ‘a half eaten lamb chop’.

The #getnzonthemap campaign is also promoted by Tourism NZ, which aims to revive tourist flow.   The country became especially popular among globetrotters after the successful Lord of The Rings and Hobbit film franchises. According to Tourism NZ, there was a 50% increase in arrivals to New Zealand since Lord of the Rings.

The breathtaking landscapes and pristine wilderness attracted in 2017 almost 5 million tourists. Ironically, most of the them come from Australia.

iStock/Robert Chang

"We have a lake the size of Singapore, a mountain range larger than the European Alps, and more coastline than California," Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen England-Hall said.

But with a walking route the length of the country and tours to the film-related locations, New Zealand offers great vacation opportunities not only for backpackers and Tolkien fans.

The luxury tourism market is booming as well. The wealthy tourists are pampered with the tailored excursions on a superyacht, helicopter tours to volcanoes, and first-class spa experiences.

Currently, tourism is New Zealand’s second largest industry, behind dairy. In October 2017 Lonely Planet named New Zealand in the Top 10 countries to visit in 2018. So, the number of people who found New Zealand on the map could significantly grow.

While you’re planning your trip to New Zealand, you can also contribute to the #getNZonthemap campaign and submit maps which forget about the Pacific country to the website,

Lead photo iStock/DaSr912