‘Aotearoa’ means ’the land of the long white cloud’.
Where is New Zealand located?
New Zealand is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Australia lies 2200 km away and they are separated by the Tasman Sea. NZ consists of two large islands (North and South Island) and several smaller islands. Stewart Island, 30 km south of the South Island and Waiheke Island, 18 km off the coast of Auckland (North Island) lies in the Hauraki Gulf. Furthermore, there are numerous small islands, including the Antipodes Islands, part of which is uninhabited, and the Chatham Islands, Campbell, Bounty, Auckland, Snares and Kermadec.
How big is New Zealand?
New Zealand is approximately six times larger than the Netherlands and its appearance is comparable to Italy. Both countries are similar in size. From the most northerly point of the North Island to the southern tip of Stewart Island is a distance of 1600 km. The maximum width of the north island is 450 km, this gives an area of 270.467 km2 compared to the Netherlands with an area of 37 354 km2. Three-quarters of New Zealand is above 200 m altitude compared to half of the Netherlands with 1 m above sea level. The largest land masses are the North Island and South Island, separated by Cook Strait.
The South Island
The south island is slightly larger and is divided from north to south by the New Zealand Alps. Mainly on the west side of the island are the mountains found with impressive fjords. The highest peak in this mountain range is Aoraki / Mount Cook (3754 m). Within this mountain range, there are 17 peaks that rise above 3,000 m. Many of these peaks are forever snowed under. In the Alps are also some spectacular glaciers. The largest is the Tasman glacier with a length of 28 km. The east side is flatter and there are also the larger cities.
New Zealand has lately been plagued by multiple earth-shakes, especially in the South Island. On Saturday 4 September 2010 a 7.1 earthquake rocked Canterbury, 37 km west of Christchurch, luckily no loss of life. On Tuesday 22 February 2011 an earthquake at a magnitude 6.3 occurred 10 km southeast of Christchurch´s central business district, killing 185 people. The latest event occurred on 14 November 2016 at a magnitude of 7.8, 15 km northeast of Culverden and 95 km from Christchurch, killing 2 people. Multiple aftershocks are still being felt.
The North Island
Most mountains in the North Island are of volcanic origin, currently dormant but with a few that are overdue. Running through the middle of the island to the northeast is a volcanic active zone. The main crater cones are Mount Taranaki / Egmont (2518 m), Mount Ruapehu (2797 m), Mount Ngauruhoe (2291 m) and Mount Tongariro (1986 m), which erupted on Tuesday, 07/08/2012 and Wednesday, 11/20/2013.