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Kiwi Innovation

 

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Great Kiwi inventions

Ingenuity and innovation are characteristics Kiwis are renowned for, and the tourism industry in New Zealand is no exception.

The Hamilton Jet boat, the ski plane, bungy, blokart and zorb are examples of New Zealand inventions that not only pushed traditional boundaries of travel but also embody the Kiwi sense of adventure by providing unique ways to experience the outdoors.

As popular local culture holds, Kiwis can do anything with "a piece of number eight wire" - the fencing wire that New Zealand farmers found many uses for is firmly entrenched in the heritage of this pioneering nation where innovation was essential to survival.

New Zealand continues to innovate in a range of fields, from its traditional export industries of agriculture and dairy, to newer growth areas of technology and award-winning wine.

Aquada speedster - Alan Gibbs

New Zealand inventor Alan Gibbs conceived the world's first high speed amphibian. The Gibbs Aquada transforms from car to boat at the touch of a button.

Powerful enough to tow a water-skier, the Aquada combines the thrill of an open-top sports car with the exhilaration of a high performance speedboat.

Atomic whizz - Ernest Rutherford

New Zealand scientist and Nobel Prize winner Baron Ernest Rutherford was the first in the world to split the atom in 1919.

During his lifetime, Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) was responsible for a series of discoveries in the fields of radioactivity and nuclear physics that helped shape modern science. Einstein described Rutherford as "the man who tunnelled into the very material of God".

Aviation pioneer - Harry Wigley

New Zealand tourism pioneer Sir Henry [Harry] Wigley made aviation history in 1955 when he made a world-first snow landing in a plane with modified retractable skis. Wigley had spent years perfecting the skis before he piloted the first ski plane from Mt Cook village to the Tasman Glacier.

Wigley was a World War II fighter pilot, mountain climber, national downhill skiing champion and an astute businessman. Less than a year after the retractable ski prototype was tested, the Mount Cook Company ski plane business was up and running.

Blokart sailor - Paul Beckett

Created, designed and manufactured in New Zealand, the blokart is a three-wheeled land yacht invented by New Zealander Paul Beckett.

Beckett set out to design a wind-powered toy that was portable and universally easy to use. The blokart can be folded down into a lightweight, suitcase-sized bag, and goes anywhere from beaches to parking lots, sport grounds. Blokarts can also travel on ice, and have been used to cross the Gobi Desert.

Bungy dare-devil - A J Hackett

New Zealand entrepreneur and daredevil A J Hackett was inspired to create bungy jumping after learning of a traditional practice in Vanuatu where participants leap from wooden structures attached to vines.

Hackett devised a system of plaited elastic bands, and publicised his bungy style by jumping from the Eiffel Tower in 1987. He opened the world's first commercial bungy site in 1988, and New Zealand has become the home of the bungy with more than 100,000 visitors taking the plunge each year.

Cycling monorail - Geoff Barnett

The Shweeb - the world’s first human-powered monorail racetrack - was invented by cyclist Geoff Barnett. Since the Shweeb Velodrome opened in Rotorua in 2007, more than 30,000 riders have raced the futuristic machines at speeds of up to 70kph.

But the Shweeb is more than a tourist activity as the Rotorua tourism venture is also the prototype for a form of mass transport that is being marketed internationally as an environmentally-friendly solution for short-distance urban journeys.

Eggbeaters & hairpins - Ernest Godward

Ernest Godward - who was British-born but emigrated to New Zealand in his teens - was a prolific inventor. His many inventions included an eggbeater, a burglar-proof window and, in 1901, the world’s first spiral hair pin - an international success that allowed him to set up as a full-time inventor.

Godward is probably best known for his ‘economiser’ - the Godward Vaporiser was an early form of carburettor that allowed vehicles to run on kerosene, gasoline oil, fuel oil, petrol and even bootleg liquor. He invented 72 models of the economiser, and by the 1930s was recognised as the world’s leading authority on the internal combustion engine.

Jet-boat - William Hamilton

As a small boy, William Hamilton had dreamed of a boat that would carry him up New Zealand’s swift flowing rivers. His dream became reality with the 1954 development of a revolutionary new style of boating - the world’s first propellerless boat. Since then, the Hamilton Jet has been the means to explore and access waterways all over the world.

Sir William Hamilton went on to invent the hay lift, an advanced air compressor, a machine to smooth ice on skating ponds, and the water sprinkler amongst other things.

Jogging maestro - Arthur Lydiard

New Zealand athletic trainer Arthur Lydiard invented jogging - the method of building up physical fitness by gradually increasing stamina. This system is used by millions of people worldwide as part of their everyday health and fitness regime.

Lydiard’s training technique saw his protégés Peter Snell and Murray Halberg win gold medals on the same day at the 1960 Rome Olympics, and helped propel New Zealand to the top of world middle-distance running.

Jumping genius - Dr Keith Alexander

New Zealand Engineering Innovator of the Year 2011, Associate Professor Dr Keith Alexander worked on the Gibbs Aquada and Hamilton Jet but it's his revolutionary spring-free trampoline - the world's safest trampoline - that's found in backyards all over New Zealand and around the world. His trampoline replaces the traditional steel coil rings with glass-reinforced rods.

The Canterbury University-designed Springfree Trampoline is said to reduce injury incidents on trampolines by up to 80%. It was voted consumer product of the year in the USA and Canada, and has also won an Australian design award.

Referee whistle - William Atack

New Zealand referee William Atack became the first sports referee in the world to use a whistle to stop a game in 1884.

The referee’s whistle is now the norm for umpiring, but until Atack came out on the ground whistling, referees had to raise their voices to control games.

Zorbing - Akers brothers

An attempt to walk on water inspired Kiwi brothers David and Andrew Akers, along with scientist Dwayne van der Sluis, to create the Zorb - a giant ball that spins down hills at up to 50kph.

Thrill seekers are strapped into the hollow plastic ball - surrounded by a thick air cushion - then sent off on a crazy downhill spin.

Zorb was invented in Rotorua, and adventure seekers can try it out on grassy slopes just outside the famous thermal town. International franchises are operating in Europe, Asia and South America.

More information

Going for a spin - real Kiwi adventures

Ernest Rutherford - father of nuclear science

NZ Rugby Museum fields rare 1st XV

Google backs NZ’s Shweeb

Bungy - a Kiwi adventure


These topics may also be of interest to you

 

Related Links
Other Sites
•  Shweeb - Rotorua website
•  Zorb - Rotorua website
•  Blokart website
•  New Zealand Rugby Museum website
•  Gibbs Aquada website
•  Springfree Trampoline website
•  AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand website
•  Hamilton Jet Boat website
•  Mt Cook Ski Planes website

 

Blokart on Papamoa Beach - click for more.
Blokart on Papamoa Beach


Kawarau Bridge - AJ Hackett Bungy - click for more.
AJ Hackett Bungy - Kawarau Bridge, Queenstown


Riding the Shweeb - Rotorua, New Zealand - click for more.
Riding the Shweeb in Rotorua


Zorbing at Agrodome, Rotorua - click for more.
Zorbing at Agrodome, Rotorua










   

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