New Zealand Geography
New Zealand is really two islands, both share a lot of similarities and some key differences.
The archipelagic nation of New Zealand is located about 2000 km from Sydney on Australia’s southeast coastline. The Tasman Sea separates the two countries. New Zealand’s closest island neighbours are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga, tropical island countries to the north.
North Island, New Zealand
If you’re heading over to the North Island, also known as Te Ika-a-Maui, you can expect the weather to be a lot warmer, enjoying subtropical temperatures during the summer months. The North Island also has some spectacular beaches, where you can enjoy some great activities.
You’ll find the North Island is much-less vertical than its southern counterpart. No mountains reach higher than 1800 m, the tallest peaks are in the Ruahine and Tararua mountains. The island is very volcanic, with a large volcanic plateau most of which is at an altitude over 600m. The volcanic presence also brings with it natural hot springs and geysers. The Pohutu Geyser in Te Puia can erupt up to twenty times a day, these geysers can be surrounded by geothermic hot springs, natural spa baths that have many purported health benefits. This volcanic plateau is located in the centre of the island.
The North Island is also characterized by its large white coastlines with expansive beaches, and wide vast open plains and fields. These fields are usually coated in lush green grasses, and as a result, the North Island is known for its wonderful produce, like dairy and wine. These farmlands are separated on either side by a ridge of mountains that run through the centre of the island. The North Island provides for great mountain biking experiences.
South Island, New Zealand
The South Island is the larger of the two islands, though it only holds about a quarter of the population. Known affectionately by South Islanders as the mainland, around 33% of the entire population of the South Island live in Christchurch, the islands capital city. Around 88% of the island’s population identified has having European descent, while 8% identify as Maori. As opposed to its Northern neighbour, the South Island, or Te Waipounamu, is much more mountainous.
The South Island is also known for its many frosty glaciers which cap the islands many mountains. As a result, there are many rivers and tributaries flowing throughout the island, making it well hydrated and lush. The glaciers descend to less than 220m. The rivers are fed by the melting glaciers and torrential rains. Like the North Island, the South Island is also characterized by vast sweeping plains. The Canterbury Plains are an example of the islands famous plains, located in the central-eastern part of the island, the plains were formed by quaternary moraine deposits from glacial periods. There are several other plains on the island, including the Westland Coastal plain and the Southland plain. The beautiful geographical features of the South Island, including its U-shaped valleys carved out between cloud-kissing mountains, have been the basis for many film shoots, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. The South Island provides for some great trail riding experiences.
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