Story: Indoor sports

Indoor sports – from gymnastics to volleyball – are popular with all ages. They take as much skill, stamina and teamwork as outdoor sports, but players need not worry about sunburn or getting rained off.

Story by Mark Derby
Main image: Mereana Rademakers competes in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2010 GymSports New Zealand

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The New Zealand Gymnastic Association was formed in 1956. By 2012 around 350,000 New Zealanders practised gymnastics.

New Zealand’s competitive gymnasts have won numerous Commonwealth Games medals, and in 2004 Aucklander Angela McMillan became the aerobic gymnastics world champion.


New Zealand’s first badminton club was founded in Auckland around 1900. Others followed, and in 1925 the New Zealand Badminton Association was formed. By 2012 about 12,000 New Zealanders played the game regularly.

The Whyte Trophy, contested every two years by New Zealand and Australia, began in 1938. It may be the world’s oldest surviving international badminton tournament.


The New Zealand Squash Rackets Association was founded in 1932. By 2012 it was called Squash New Zealand, and represented about 19,000 members in 196 clubs.

During the 1980s Susan Devoy of Rotorua was perhaps the greatest figure in international squash.

Table tennis

Table tennis, also called ping-pong, began in England in the 1880s as a winter version of tennis. Tournaments were held in New Zealand as early as 1902.

By 2012 Li Chunli was the country’s most well known table-tennis player. There were 7,500 registered players in New Zealand, and many more social players.


Volleyball began to be played seriously in New Zealand in the 1950s. By 2012 it was one of the top five school sports in New Zealand. Around 250,000 New Zealanders played the game every year.

How to cite this page:

Mark Derby, 'Indoor sports', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 July 2024)

Story by Mark Derby, published 5 September 2013, updated 1 June 2016