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MediaDecember 8, 2021

Scones, sports and Squid Games: What we Googled in 2021


Google’s Year in Search data for 2021 reveals a nation intrigued by guacamole and obsessed with blood moons. Tara Ward has the details.

Google has just released its annual Google Year in Search data, a charming list of random words that reveal what’s going on in the brains of internet-loving New Zealanders. This data charts the searches that trended (showed the greatest increase in searches) over the last 12 months, and shows what we were curious about, what was happening in the world, and what we wanted to eat. It suggests we love sports and guacamole, possibly both at the same time, and we can’t get enough of a blood moon. Are you searching “blood moon” right now? It’s fine, we’ll wait.

Whether you spent 2021 searching “apple crumble recipe” or “coinmarketcap”, this Google Year in Search data is a gateway into our hearts and minds. The full list of trending searches is here, but we’ve selected some of the more intriguing results from a year when we were all searching for… something.

Overall searches

New Zealanders were obsessed with two things in 2021: Covid-19 and sports. “Covid 19 nz”, “locations of interest” and “my covid record” were three of the most popular overall searches, while sports fans dug deep and researched things called “NBA”, “NRL”, and “cricinfo”. Seek and you shall find, or just put .com after a word and find it anyway.

TV shows

The Squid Games cast reflect on their Google searches in 2021 (Photo: Netflix)

It’s no surprise Squid Games peaked as the number one trending search, given the show became the most watched in Netflix’s history earlier this year. Netflix shows dominated the TV category, and in a year when we enjoyed plenty of quality screen time, we Googled the heck out of Bridgerton, Sweet Tooth, Firefly Lane, Maid, Clickbait, The Serpent, and Ginny and Georgia. In other news, my daily search query “is Chris Warner still OK” inexplicably failed to trend for yet another year.

Famous New Zealanders

The sports love carried over to our searches for well-known New Zealanders, and the Tokyo Olympics saw medallists Lisa Carrington, Sophie Pascoe, Valerie Adams and Lydia Ko all trend. For non-athletes, Lorde made a solid showing, Judith Collins and Nicola Willis have never been so trendy, and Brian Tamaki also popped up, because he seems to pop up everywhere at the moment.

Global figures / actors

Christopher Reeve’s Google Doodle from 2021 (Screenshot: Google)

Alec Baldwin was the top trending result in both the Global Figures and Actors categories, following his involvement in a fatal shooting on a movie set in October. The second was Christopher Reeve, an intriguing result that had me Googling “Christopher Reeve” many times, possibly making this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Thankfully, my Spinoff colleagues understand how the internet actually works, and discovered Google celebrated the late actor’s 69th birthday in September by making Reeve the Google Doodle of the day. Is this Google cooking the books? Is Big Google infiltrating us through the power of dead iconic superheroes? I will keep searching Google until I find the answers.

News (non Covid-19)

Apparently other stuff happened this year that had nothing to do with the pandemic, like “tsunami warning NZ” and “Kermadec islands”. ”Afghanistan”, “RSV” and “Kyle Rittenhouse” also trended, while we lapped up all we could about “blood moon”, possibly due to the moon hitting back after being slammed by Mark Richardson.


During a stressful year, we turned to Google to help us understand what day it was. “When is Father’s Day NZ” was the top trending “when” search, which makes sense given the day came out of nowhere during the first weeks of delta lockdown. Lockdown dominated this category, with “when is the next COVID announcement nz?”, “when is Auckland going to level 3?” and “when does lockdown end nz?” all peaking in popularity.

Sadly, we can’t blame lockdown on needing Google’s help to find out when Valentine’s Day is (it’s the same date every year, FYI), the timing of the next blood moon (May 2022) or the date of the next America’s Cup race. That’s right, mates. The America’s Cup was this year.


These results are a window into our bready souls, revealing that in 2021 every New Zealander consisted of 97% comfort food and the other 3% playdough. Apple crumble, carrot cake and scones were the three biggest sweet food searches, and when you add the guacamole and pumpkin soup savoury searches into 2021’s cracked bowl of life, we easily reached our 5+ a day. Better living, everyone.

Keep going!