New Zealand’s spectacularly beautiful landscape includes vast mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, sweeping coastlines, deeply indented fiords and lush rainforests, water falls, and its tree-lined streets makes it one of the great tourist destinations of the world.
Comparable in size to Great Britain or Japan, New Zealand has a population of little over 4.5 million – making it one of the world’s least crowded countries. It is a haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation.
It is a long, narrow, mountainous country, surrounded by ocean. Located in the south-west pacific, about 1600 km south-east of Australia, it is little larger than United Kingdom and about two-thirds the size of Japan. (See map). More than 1000 km (620 miles) of ocean surrounds New Zealand from all sides. It covers a total of 27.1 million hectares (nearly 270,534 sq km) of land and a coastline of 15,134km in length. It is predominantly mountainous and hilly country. Approximately 16 million hectares land is over 300m above sea level.
The country is divided into two large islands: NORTH ISLAND and SOUTH ISLAND. The total land area of North Island is around 113725 Sq km and South Island covers 150437 Sq km. Apart from these two islands, there are several smaller islands including Chatham, Stewart and Pitt Islands. Total land area of both the islands is more than 1600 km long and 450 km wide at its widest part. The distance between the very north of the North Island and the southern tip of the South Island is over 1,600km.
New Zealand also has jurisdiction over the territories of Chatham Islands and Campbell Islands, Tokelau and 414,000sqkm slab of Antartica, which is administered as the Ross Dependency. Some time ago, other small Islands like Cook Islands, Western Samoa, Niue and Tokelaus were also under New Zealand’s jurisdiction, but now these are independent nations.
The Maori name for New Zealand is AOTEAROA, which means, the land of long white clouds.
New Zealand also have many mountains. Aoraki/ Mt.Cook is at a height of 3754 meters above sea level.The Southern Alps have atleast 223 named peaks higher than 2300 m. Most of the peaks are in South Island. Ruapehu, Taranaki, Ngauruhoe and Tonariro moutain peaks are in North Island.
There are over 3000 glaciers in New Zealand, covering a total area of 1158 sq km. The estimated ice volume is 53.3 cu km. Tasman, Murchison, Fox, Franz Josef and Volta-Therma are the five largest glaciers in New Zealand. Nearly 50% of all of New Zealand’s ice is contained in these glaciers.
There are many lakes which add to the natural beauty of this country. Lake Taupo, the largest lake is 606 sq km long and 163 meters deep. Waikato River is the longest river with going to 425 sq km and crossing many cities.
There are many natural caves in New Zealand. Bulmer Cavern in Mt Owen is 50125 meters long. Waitomo Caves near Rotorua in North Island are 12197 meters long.