I don’t know about you but i’ve never really thought about this in the past. Up until now that is. And yes, i know, it’s kind of a silly question, but if there’s a New Zealand, where’s Old Zealand?
Well, because i know every follower of this page is now eager to know the answer, no more intro; i’ll cut to the chase.
To answer this question, we’ll have to talk a bit about all the places whose name derives from older place names. Just take a map and you’ll find a lot of them: New York, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Orleans. European explorers loved taking a location from their country of origin, adding the ‘New’ prefix and assigning to to a new place that resembled its namesake. (the article continues after the ad)
This act was very popular among the Dutch explorers and that’s why it’s quite common to find places names that are based on the Netherlands. To name a few: New Netherlands (now New York), New Amsterdam (now New York city), New Haarlem (now just Harlem).
Well, New Zealand is no exception.
In 1642, Dutch navigator Abel Janszoon Tasman was the first to reach South Island, New Zealand’s largest island. So when Dutch cartographers were to name this place, they named it after the Dutch maritime province of Zeeland. The original name was ‘Nieu Zelandt’. (the article continues after the ad)
Zeeland is the westernmost and least populous province of the Netherlands, located just northwest of Antwerp, Belgium. And here’s an interesting trivia about Zeeland and New Zealand: given that the maximum distance of any two points on Earth is 12,450 miles (20,036 km), at 11,600 miles (18,670 km), Zeeland and New Zealand are almost as far as they could be.
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Sources: The province of Zeeland, the Netherlands | The discovery of New Zealand | Story: European discovery of New Zealand | Where Is “Old Zealand”? | Nieuw Zeeland