The country of New Zealand is a
member of Oceania or the Pacific Islands, a
consortium of thousands of islands located in the
New Zealand’s South Island and North
Island are Oceania’s 2nd and 3rd largest islands, in
that order. New Zealand is regarded as part of
Polynesia, 1 of the 3 major Pacific Islands
New Zealand’s total land area is 267,990 square
kilometers (103,470 square miles), approximately the
same size as the British Isles or Japan.
of the country is made up of the South and North
Cook Straight separates these islands. It is a canal flanked
on the east by the South Pacific Ocean and on the west by
the Tasman Sea. The islands are located along an area
dominated by a southwest by northeast axis. From north to
south, their length is approximately 1,600 kilometers (or
1,000 miles), and from east to west their maximum width is
450 kilometers (or 280 miles).
The Island of Rangitoto is a huge, volcanic cone
which is now extinct on the harbor of Auckland.
The Rangitoto Isaland summit is a popular attraction for
tourists, offering panoramic views of Auckland City
and the Hauraki Gulf.
The formation of New Zealand’s
islands are mostly due to volcanic activity. Both
extinct and active and volcanoes still make up most
of the landmass of New Zealand.
Several small and broadly scattered islands are also
part of the New Zealand territory. Some are
uninhabited and tiny.
Stewart Island, one of islands
that are inhabited, is the nearest and largest,
situated approximately 30 kilometers (or 20 miles)
off South Island’s southern shore.
Campbell Island is located about six hundred kilometers (or
375 miles) further south, and approximately 850 kilometers
on the South Island’s east are the Chatham Islands. Tthe
biggest island of the Kermadec Islands, Raoul Island is
located over 900 kilometers (or 600 miles) on North Island’s
New Zealand’s highest point, Mount Cook or Aorangi
(in Maori), is located in the South Island. It
reaches a height of 3,754 meters (or 12,316 feet) in
the Southern Alps’ central region. Eighteen other
mountains that make up part of the chain have a
height of more than 3,000 meters (or 10,000 feet).
The Southern Alps spread out to approximately 500
kilometers (or 300 miles) which is practically the
entire span of the South Island.
The chain’s western side rises at the shore, along a
narrow piece of coastline sandwiched between the
mountains and the sea. The chain’s eastern side
gently slopes to an area of fertile plains and
rolling hills, drained by several rivers which are
Mount Cook houses the Tasman Glacier, the largest among the
over three hundred glaciers located in the Southern Alps.
The Canterbury Plains in the east central form the country’s
largest lowland region. On the south are the plains and
hills of the Otago Plateau, which is flanked on the west by
the Fiordland National Park wilderness. This is where the
Southern Alps’ southern foothills join a rugged shoreline of
fjords, or narrow and deep coastal inlets.