In 2020 - stuck at home, glued to our monitors and desperate for information - what did New Zealand Google? Below are the terms from New Zealand that trended highest on Google this year - meaning they are not the most Googled terms, but ones that had the biggest spike in interest in 2020 compared to 2019.


This one should be no surprise. New Zealand’s Google results were brimming with searches for Covid-related information. Here are some of the trending Covid topics:

  • Coronavirus
  • What is Coronavirus?
  • Why is it called Covid-19?
  • What is a pandemic?
  • Ashley Bloomfield
  • Ministry of Health
  • Italy Coronavirus
  • Why is Italy so affected by Coronavirus?
  • Level 2
  • What is Level 2?

There were also all of the questions that came from the dramatic shift in lifestyle brought about by the pandemic and lockdowns.

  • Zoom
  • How to use Zoom?
  • Education Perfect [an online tutoring and classroom platform]
  • SeeSaw [another online learning resource]
  • How to make a face mask?
  • How to make hand sanitizer?
  • Why are people buying toilet paper?

Sitting at the fifth-most trending global figure is Tom Hanks. Now, I don’t want to undermine the interest people have in the work and life of our treasured Tom Hanks, but you have to assume he made New Zealand’s list due to the fact that he was one of the first celebrities to catch Covid. 


Despite the magnitude of Covid, our most trending Google terms managed to not be completely dominated by pandemic-related terms. Kiwis still managed to stay engaged with other events, both here and around the world.

Here were our biggest focusses internationally:

  • US Election Results
  • Iowa Caucus
  • Australian Fires
  • Iran [spiking highest on the week of January 5 following the United States assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by airstrike]
  • Beirut [spike following the explosion in the Port of Beirut]

And here in New Zealand:

  • How to vote NZ?
  • Election Results NZ
  • What is Matariki?

We also had a big interest in many of the prominent deaths of 2020. Both Kobe Bryant and Naya Rivera were among our highest trending overall searches. Here are the other highest trending losses:

  • George Floyd
  • Chadwick Boseman
  • Caroline Flack 
  • Sushant Singh Rajpu 
  • Kenny Rogers
  • Kelly Preston
  • Eddie Van Halen
  • Sean Connery
  • Rishi Kapoor


There is one clear trend in how Kiwis kept themselves busy this year. See if you can guess what it is:

  • How to make buttermilk? 
  • What is buttermilk?
  • How to make pancakes? 
  • How to make self raising flour? 
  • How to make naan bread? 
  • How to make bread? 

There was also one TV show that clearly captured the hearts and minds of Kiwis, with both Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin ranking in our top ten highest trending global figures - wedged between Elon Musk and Kanye West and with Kamala Harris in between.

On our own shores, Google trends also allows us to see which local celebs were on the Kiwi consciousness in 2020:

  • Hayley Holt 
  • Israel Adesanya
  • Ashley Bloomfield
  • Lydia Ko
  • David Bain 
  • Taika Waititi
  • Chelsea Winter
  • Benee 
  • Dan Carter 
  • Ross Taylor 


Let’s be real - the biggest joy of these kinds of trend lists is finding the weird stuff. So… let’s do that.

For instance, the top trending search opening with ‘Why’ is:

  • Why were cornflakes invented?

If you’re asking yourself, ‘why the hell would people be searching the origin of cornflakes?’ I think you owe yourself the very same Google search to discover the weird link between cornflakes and masturbation.

Another goodie:

  • What is a simp? 

Another excellent question, and probably something you had to Google if you are over 25. The most upvoted definition for the current version of simp on Urban Dictionary reads as follows:

“A man that puts himself in a subservient/submissive position under women in hopes of winning them over, without the female bringing anything to the table.”

It has also been proposed that it is an acronym. SIMP = Somebody/Sucka who Idolizes Mediocre Pussy. This interpretation is slightly more contentious - but, regardless, the intention remains the same.

There are also some topical questions in there, with people trying to understand some of the cultural shifts we have experienced this year.

  • What is 5g? 
  • What is antifa? 

But, my personal favourite:

  • Why is the sky blue? 

It’s just nice to know that amongst the mayhem of both the internet and 2020, some people are out there keeping their curiosity pure and scientific. Ka pai!