New Zealand Geography
Lying in the south-west Pacific, New Zealand consists of two main islands--the North Island and the South Island in the south-western Pacific Ocean, and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands.
New Zealand is situated about 2000 km southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.
The North Island has a 'spine' of mountain ranges running through the middle, with gentle rolling farmland on both sides. The central North Island is dominated by the Volcanic Plateau, an active volcanic and thermal area.
The massive Southern Alps form the backbone of the South Island. To the east of the Southern Alps is the rolling farmland of Otago and Southland, and the vast, flat Canterbury Plains.
Straddled over two tectonic plates can have its disadvantages in the form of volcanoes, earthquakes and other natural hazards. This subterranean activity also provides New Zealand with geothermal areas and relaxing hot springs, as well as providing electricity and heating in some areas.
Rotorua is the centre of geothermal area with plenty of mud pools, geysers, and hot springs in its active thermal areas
New Zealand has over 15,000 kilometres of coastline.
About a fifth of the North Island and two-thirds of the South Island are mountains.
New Zealand's Southern Alps have a number of glaciers, the largest being Tasman glacier.
Over thousands of years, the process of subduction has seen parts of the New Zealand landscape become submerged. The Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland are examples of high mountain ranges that have 'sunk' into the sea, creating spectacular sounds and fiords. These areas provide some of New Zealand most picturesque scenery, with steep lush hills plunging down to the deep still bays below.
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