Famed for its stunning natural beauty and tranquillity, New Zealand is one of the world’s top tourist destinations and there are plenty of famous Kiwis out there who helped put this fascinating country on the map. Here’s a list of some of New Zealand’s most famous exports, and the effect they had on the world around us.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 7.34.11 PM

Bruce McLaren, Driver

Born in Auckland, Bruce McLaren was a brilliant driver and had a vision that extended way beyond the driver’s seat. He became the engineer, inventor, constructor and tester of Team McLaren – the most successful team in the world of motorsport since its conception in 1966. McLaren have won 123 Grand Prix races, dominated CamAm events, taken three Indianapolis 500 races and won 19 prestigious Formula One World Championship titles. That’s more than any other team in the entire history of the sport!

Sam Neil, Actor

Born in Northern Ireland to army parents, Sam Neil’s family returned to their native New Zealand in 1954, and Neil went on to go to boarding school before attending the universities at Canterbury and Victoria and gaining a BA in English Literature. After graduating, he worked with the New Zealand Players as well as working as a film director, editor and scriptwriter for the New Zealand National Film Unit. His most notable films include Jurassic Park, The Horse Whisperer and The Hunt for Red October.

Jean Batton, Pilot

The 1930s were very much dominated by men, but Jean Batton made a name for herself in the man’s world and inspired generations of women to aim for more in life. Jean’s most impressive achievements have to be being the first person to fly directly from England to New Zealand, and being the first woman to fly a return journey from England to Australia. Born in Rotorua, Jean was known as Hine-O-Te-Rangi, Daughter of the Skies

Russell Crowe, Actor

Born in Wellington in 1964, Russell Crowe moved to Australia when he was very young and has gone on to star in a number of Hollywood blockbusters including Gladiator, LA Confidential and many more. He even picked up an Oscar for his role in LA Confidential.

Peter Jackson, Director

Born on 31st October 1961 in Pukerua Bay on the North Island, Peter Jackson is most famous for directing the epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was filmed on location in Jackson’s native New Zealand. He has also directed hot films including Heavenly Creatures, King Kong and more. New Zealand is full of natural beauty from dramatic mountains to gorgeous deep blue waters, glaciers and coastlines, so it’s not hard to see why it was chosen to provide the setting to The Lord of the Rings.

Kate Sheppard, Suffragist

New Zealand is famous for being the first country to grant universal suffrage to both men and women equally, and it couldn’t have happened without famous suffragist Kate Sheppard. The leader and main figurehead of the women’s rights movement in New Zealand, Kate has been an inspiration to generations of suffragists all over the world.