US talk show host and certified nerd royalty, Stephen Colbert visited New Zealand recently. In a piece for his show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he visited the country in an attempt to become an honorary Kiwi. The first episode followed on from a couple of interviews he had previously conducted with the New Zealand Prime Minister. 

Jacinda Ardern is the world’s youngest female head of state but played the part of a taxi driver for the piece with Colbert. Ardern picked the Tolkien fanatic up from the airport before the pair enjoyed a very New Zealand interview. From there, Ardern hosted a New Zealand state dinner (a garden BBQ) and the trio shared sausages with Kiwi singer Lorde. 

It’s part of a weekly series in which Colbert attempts to become the Newest Zealander. Day two saw actress Lucy Lawless and half of the Flight of the Conchords, Bret McKenzie enlightening Stephen on various aspects of New Zealand culture. The series will also see appearances from the All Blacks rugby team and a meet-up with Lord of the Rings director Sir Peter Jackson.

It’s all part of an agreement with the New Zealand travel board. It cost the organisation some $100,000 for the five-part series but the group’s leader thinks this was money well spent.

“The USA is one of our largest markets,” said Tourism NZ CEO Stephen England-Hall.

“It’s one of the only markets that is still showing signs of growth, so we jumped on the chance to work with the show.”

The whistle-stop tour does tick a lot of boxes for stereotypically Kiwi activities. However, go a little deeper beneath the surface and you’ll find out that there is a lot more to New Zealand than rugby, Tolkien, and plain white bread.

Starting with the food, one classic New Zealand favourite is to cook food using a Hangi. This traditional method of cooking involves burying rocks in a pit oven. Kiwis love their seafood with oysters and sea urchins are high on the list along with whitebait fritters. Lamb and roasted vegetables is also a popular staple.

In terms of activities, there are so many other popular pastimes for New Zealanders.  Kiwis love to play games online with the average resident spending 88 minutes a day playing games. These games take many forms from more typical video games to other types like online casino titles, something which many New Zealanders enjoy playing.

The most popular of these are slot machines, or pokies as Kiwis like to call them. Pokies are beloved by many Kiwis with over 18,000 machines in the country. Some follow a more traditional history and take on a classic style while many others are based on existing elements of popular culture.

Other sporting hobbies are enjoyed. Kiwis love cricket and football, as well as indoor sports like netball and basketball. There are plenty of other films both set and created in New Zealand besides the Lord of the Rings. In recent years, creators like Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement have enjoyed tremendous success both in New Zealand and across the world with their films. Stephen Colbert has clearly experienced a lot in his week-long tour of New Zealand but clearly, he’s barely scratched the surface.