About New Zealand

New Zealand enjoys varied landscape and dramatic geographical features – from cascading glaciers, to active volcanoes, from placid lakes, to vast mountain ranges. This amazing geography has made New Zealand a popular location for tourists as well as the production of television programmes and films, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.

Being straddled over two tectonic plates and sitting on the Pacific ‘ring of fire’ can have its disadvantages in the form of volcanoes, earthquakes and other natural hazards. However, this subterranean activity also blesses New Zealand with some spectacular geothermal areas and relaxing hot springs, as well as providing electricity and heating in some areas.

Rotorua is the centre of geothermal tourist activity, with plenty of mud pools, geysers, and hot springs in its active thermal areas–not to mention its trademark ‘Sulphur City’ smell. First settled by Maori who used the hot springs for cooking and bathing, Rotorua soon attracted European residents. The reputed health benefits of its hot pools quickly earned the area the name of ‘Cureland’.

In addition to Rotorua, you can enjoy hot springs and other thermal activity in most regions of the North Island north of Turangi, as well as in Hanmer Springs and the West Coast in the South Island.

New Zealand has over 15,000 kilometres of beautiful and varied coastline. In the far north and on most of the east coast of the North Island you’ll find long sandy beaches perfect for swimming, surfing and sunbathing. The North Island’s west coast has dark sandy beaches, with sand heavy in iron.

The north of the South Island has some beautiful sandy beaches, while the coastline around the rest of the South Island tends to be wilder and more rugged.

About a fifth of the North Island and two-thirds of the South Island are mountains. The existence of a ‘spine’ of mountain ranges throughout New Zealand is also due to the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates. Stretching from the north of the North Island to the bottom of the South, these mountains are caused by the collision of the Australian and Pacific Plates.

Over millions of years, alluvial deposits (eroded from the mountains by rivers) formed the vast Canterbury Plains in the South Island and a number of smaller plains in the North. These alluvial plains contain some of New Zealand’s most fertile and productive farmland.

*Text content from www.tourism.net.nz

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