Sports in New Zealand

Sports in New Zealand
Updated 2023-02-12 10:46

Sport is an important part of the culture and national identity of New Zealand. Many New Zealanders participate in sports and follow sporting events, and there is generally great respect for athletes and athletic achievements.  

Some of the most popular sports in New Zealand include rugby, cricket, soccer, and netball. The country has a strong tradition of success in international sporting competitions. Even small towns are likely to have recreation centers and local sports teams, and sports is often a great way to socialize and make new friends in New Zealand.

Rugby, cricket, golf, soccer and sailing are all popular in New Zealand. Of course, if you are into adventure sports, then you've also come to the right place. Climbing, mountaineering, hiking, whitewater kayaking, surfing, skiing and other adventure activities are all popular, thanks to New Zealand's mountainous geography, plentiful surf beaches, and wild rivers.

Rugby in New Zealand

Rugby is the national sport of New Zealand and is extremely popular throughout the country. The New Zealand national team, the All Blacks, is considered one of the best teams in the world and has a long history of success in international competitions, including the Rugby World Cup. Rugby is played at all levels in New Zealand, from community clubs to the professional level. Many New Zealanders follow the All Blacks' fortunes closely, and past and present members of the team are bonafide celebrities.

Cricket in New Zealand

While rugby is for winter, cricket is the most popular summer sport in New Zealand. The Black Caps (men's team) and the White Ferns (women's team) regularly take part in international competitions, extending the season longer than just the New Zealand summer. Cricket games are held in anything from a stadium to a local sports ground and are broadcasted on television frequently. New Zealand takes part in ‘test cricket', which is a longer-form version of the game - known as the highest standard of cricket. Spending a summer's day at a cricket match is a quintessential part of kiwi culture, and playing beach or lawn cricket is common at picnics or parties.

Soccer in New Zealand

Another popular sport in New Zealand is soccer, AKA football. There is one professional team within New Zealand, the Wellington Phoenix, which plays in the Australian National Soccer League, and another team that plays internationally. The international team is known as the All Whites and has taken part in the FIFA World Cup. All Whites players usually play in international teams during the season and then come back to the national team for tournaments. Soccer is a popular recreational sport in New Zealand, and there are many local social leagues, with summer soccer and indoor soccer also popular.

Golf in New Zealand

Not quite as popular with the younger generation, golf is still a popular sport in New Zealand, with a large number of golf courses located throughout the country. New Zealand has a number of top-quality golf courses, some of which are located in scenic and challenging environments. The country has also produced a number of successful golfers who have competed at the professional level, including Michael Campbell, who won the U.S. Open in 2005, and Lydia Ko, who is the No. 1-ranked woman professional golfer.

Sailing in New Zealand

With so much of New Zealand being by the coast, it is no surprise that sailing is one of the country's most popular sports. The keenest sailors own their own boats, but in smaller towns, there is likely going to be a sailing club with some sailboats you can hire. The country has a strong tradition of success in international sailing competitions, including America's Cup, which is considered one of the most prestigious sailing events in the world. New Zealand has won America's Cup three times, in 1995, 2000, and 2017.

Other sports in New Zealand

Netball, tennis, swimming, and rowing are all popular sports in New Zealand, as are basketball and tennis. More adventurous sports like mountain biking, mountaineering, skiing, canyoning, and kayaking are also widely practiced by Kiwis, and, in general, New Zealanders pride themselves on having an active, outdoorsy culture. Perhaps inspired by the country's rugged terrain or the physical endurance required by those who first settled here, toughness and physical prowess are tied to the country's identity. Indeed, one of the most famous New Zealanders ever is Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

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