The Antipodes, and having the feet opposite

I sort of find this interesting but it’s not really relevant to anything. A bit of geographical and language trivia.

New Zealand (and Australia) have been referred to as The Antipodes, because we are roughly on the opposite side of the world to Britain. The word antipodes actually means ‘direct opposite’. Origin (Oxford):

Late Middle English: via French or late Latin from Greek antipodes ‘having the feet opposite’, from anti ‘against, opposite’ + pous, pod- ‘foot’. The term originally denoted the inhabitants of opposite sides of the earth

No part of New Zealand nor Australia are directly opposite Britain.

Ten years ago I wrote:

If you sail out into Biscay Bay
And anchor on the edge
Drill like crazy finding maybe
Biscay Bay Antipodes

The Bay of Biscay is to the north of Spain, and some point there happens to be the opposite side of the planet to Dunedin. The antipodes of most of New Zealand lies across Spain. None of Australia lines up with an opposite land mass.

What I find most interesting about this is how little of the Earth’s land mass lies opposite to land. Not that this means a lot in the whole scheme of things.

If you dug a hole straight down and ended up in China you would have to be in the southern half of South America, in Argentina or Chile, which seems odd as they all border the Pacific Ocean. But the Pacific covers about a third of Earth’s surface, is nearly a half (46%) of the total sea area and is larger than the whole of the planet’s land mass

General details here:

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  1. Blazer

     /  8th April 2018

    depends how pedantic you are to take the literal meaning of …’antipodes’.There’s always ‘down under’ if you..prefer.

  2. NOEL

     /  8th April 2018

    Digging in Auckland is better. You really will be in Spain.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  8th April 2018

      My dog almost made it through, but mother caught him when the silly ass had no more sense than to go to the place where he’d been digging and making himself filthy when I was in the garden and saw where it was. I suppose that I’m near enough to Auckland for him to have come out in Spain.

  3. Ross Finlayson

     /  9th April 2018

    Yes, many parts of NZ have Antipodes in Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, or Morocco. (And even France: The Chatham Islands are antipodal to part of France.) See

    Some of the more interesting ones:
    – Auckland is antipodal to Ronda, Andalucia, Spain
    – Te Arai Beach (near Mangawhai, north of Auckland) is antipodal to Gibraltar
    – Whangarei (actually, Maungatapere, nearby) is antipodal to Tangier, Morocco
    – Wellington is almost antipodal to Madrid, Spain
    – Christchurch is (almost) antipodal to La Coruna, Spain. (Interestingly, La Coruna happens to have a famous pohutukawa tree growing there; it’s not clear exactly when/how it got there from NZ.)

    One of my ‘travel goals’ is to someday stand on the point in southern Spain that’s exactly on the opposite side of the world from my birthplace (the old National Women’s Hospital in Cornwall Park, Auckland)


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