New Zealand is part of Australasia
New Zealand's nature
How true this legend of New Zealand's indigenous people is when you look at the diversity of the country: fertile plains, rugged mountains with fjords, ancient glaciers, evergreen forests and miles of sandy beaches, plus a unique flora and fauna - all of that is New Zealand.
At the edge of the world
New Zealanders know what it feels like to be far from everything else. According to a saying, they are afraid that their country will eventually fall off the world map. And they are even more afraid that no one will notice.
The "land of the long white cloud" - as one translates "Aotearoa", the Maori name for New Zealand - is geographically isolated in the South Pacific. The big neighbor Australia is around 2000 kilometers away.
About 80 to 100 million years ago, what is now New Zealand separated from the continent of Gondwana. Since then, a unique flora and fauna has developed on the two main islands and the more than 700 small islands - on a land area that is overall somewhat smaller than that of Italy.
There is a tremendous rumble beneath the surface of the earth in New Zealand. Because the island state lies on two different tectonic plates that are constantly shifting.
Between mountains and hot springs
This is how the mountain range, which - separated by the Cook Strait - extends from the North to the South Island, was created through the collision of these two plates. The underground activity also ensures that New Zealand has some of the most common erupting volcanoes in the world.
The city of Rotorua on the North Island is known by locals and tourists for its geothermal activity. There are numerous hot springs there and a permanent smell of sulfur wafts through the streets.
The various national parks in the country, which are home to numerous unique animal and plant species, are also very popular with tourists. The bird world of New Zealand is particularly diverse.
Since some species had no natural enemies for a long time, wings became superfluous in the course of their development. As a result, some of the native birds are flightless, including the kakapo parrot, which is critically endangered.
Temperate climate, lush vegetation
Most of the country is close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, a lot of rain and plenty of sunshine. This temperate climate makes for a lush vegetation.
80 percent of the trees, ferns and flowering plants are native plants. The evergreen forests in the north of the country are particularly impressive. The largest New Zealand tree, the Kauri, is native here.
The oldest and most famous tree in the country is one of them: the Tane Mahuta, named after the god of the forest of New Zealand's natives, the Maori.
The tree stands in the Waipoua Forest in the north of the North Island, has a circumference of 13.8 meters, is 51.5 meters high and more than 2000 years old.
Almost the entire west coast of the South Island is covered with dense rainforest. Its proximity to the mountains, which run parallel to the west coast and dominate the South Island, is impressive: nowhere else in the world does rainforest come so close to glaciers.
Mountain ranges that sank into the sea
In the mountains of the South Island, several of these glaciers have formed over time. One of the most famous is the Franz Josef Glacier, which was named after Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria by its German discoverer in 1865. About 150,000 years ago, the glacier was so large that it completely enclosed the surrounding mountains.
After all, especially in the southwest of the South Island you will find the kind of landscape that is probably first associated with New Zealand: crystal clear fjords amidst green hills.
The Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland were once high mountain ranges. But over the millennia they have sunk into the sea and have formed those fjords and straits.
Water as far as the eye can see
Speaking of the sea: New Zealand has more than 15,000 kilometers of coastline, the landscape of which is very different. In the north of the North Island and on a large part of its east coast you will find classic sandy beaches.
On the other hand, the sand on the west coast of the North Island, whose coast is more suitable for swimming and surfing than that of the South Island, is rich in iron and therefore dark.
On the South Island there are some sandy beaches in the north, but the rest of the coast is rugged and steep, so that you often have no direct access to the Pacific.
The numerous fjord areas of the South Island offer ideal conditions for anyone who wants to explore them by boat.
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