Google reveals the most common things Kiwis have been searching for in 2020

In a year like no other in recent memory, is it no surprise the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic was the most searched term on the internet?

It dominated the majority of Google's 2020 year in search, from overall searches, news events, Kiwi celebrities, how to, what is, and why searches.

This year's results are a lot different from 2019 where the Rugby World Cup, the Cricket World Cup, and the Christchurch mosque shootings topped the list.

Broken down into different sections, the Google data shows the highest-trending searches within each topic to the next highest and so on. Trending is the increase in search interest in 2020 compared to previous lists, not absolute searches.

Sent home and ordered not to socialise with others or leave except to buy essential products, much of our lives this year was spent online.

We started hanging out with friends over video communications software Zoom and students began learning on classroom apps like Seesaw and Education Perfect.

People like the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield rose to stardom, appearing almost every day at 1pm to announce the latest Covid-19 news.

Breweries and vape companies started making their own sanitisers while others showed fellow-lockdowners how to make masks at home, reflecting popular DIY search terms.

Flour and other baking products started flying off supermarket shelves as people searched how to make bread and pancakes.

Celebrity chef Chelsea Winter made a fuss with yeast disappearing off supermarket shelves by creating her own beer bread recipe. It was later named lockdown loaf.

People were also dumbfounded as to why people were buying toilet paper, another product in hot demand over the lockdown period.

Netflix became an even bigger part of our lives, and the infamous tiger king Joe Exotic and his arch-nemesis, Carole Baskin, rose to fame.

The searches about the deaths of Kobe Bryant, George Floyd, Chadwick Boseman, Caroline Flack, and Sushant Singh Rajput also marked a year of significant loss.

Television presenter Hayley Holt, MMA fighter Israel Adesanya, Bloomfield, Lydia Ko, and David Bain were the five most-searched Kiwi celebrities.

Leaders of countries overseas were the most-searched global figures, such as Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, and actor Tom Hanks.

Many rumours have circulated the internet of Jung-un's health this year, with speculation he was either dead, in poor health, or in a coma.

The US election, which is thought to have been won by Democrat nominee Biden, is presumably the reason behind his and Trump's search results.

Coronavirus was the biggest news event on Google, followed by the US election results, Australian bushfires, our own election results, and the NZX50 crashing.

Sports weren't on the radar for Kiwis this year it seems, apart from the passing of basketball great Bryant who died in a helicopter crash in late January, along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others.

Not everything Kiwis searched online for was about the pandemic.

It seems plenty of people need to ask Santa for a watch this year, with the term "what is the time?" one of the biggest "what is" searches.

Breakfast must have been a busy time for thought this year too, with the biggest "why" question searched being why cornflakes were invented.

In 2019, the Herald published a story which wrote the creator of the cornflakes hoped they would clear the mind of "sinful" thoughts.

We were keen to shed some weight though, with the search phrase "how to lose weight fast" higher than those for how to make pancakes, naan bread, and bread.

Overall searches

  • Coronavirus
  • US Election Results
  • Zoom
  • SeeSaw
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Ministry of Health
  • Education Perfect
  • Work and Income
  • Naya Rivera
  • Sharesies

News events

  • Coronavirus
  • US Election results
  • Australia fires
  • Election Results NZ
  • NZX50
  • Iran
  • Italy Coronavirus
  • Beirut
  • Level 2
  • Iowa Caucus

Global figures

  • Kim Jong-un
  • Donald Trump
  • Boris Johnson
  • Joe Biden
  • Tom Hanks
  • Elon Musk
  • Joe Exotic
  • Kamala Harris
  • Carole Baskin
  • Kanye West

Kiwi celebrities

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

How to ...?

  • How to make a face mask?;
  • How to make hand sanitiser?
  • How to vote NZ?
  • How to lose weight fast?
  • How to make buttermilk?
  • How to make pancakes?
  • How to make self-raising flour?
  • How to make naan bread?
  • How to make bread?
  • How to use Zoom?

What is ...?

  • What is Coronavirus?
  • What is the name of the Kingdom in Tangled?
  • What is Level 2?
  • What is a pandemic?
  • What is Matariki?
  • What is the time?
  • What is a simp?
  • What is buttermilk?
  • What is 5G?
  • What is Antifa?


  • Why were cornflakes invented?
  • Why is it called Covid-19?
  • Why are people buying toilet paper?
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Why is Italy so affected by coronavirus?


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

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.