New Zealand

Driving Directions New Zealand

NEW ZEALAND lies over 2,000 kilometers or 1,242 miles south­east of Australia in the South Pacific. It comprises two major islands – North Island and South Island – Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands and many smaller islands. The country’s features vary from extensive grassland and alpine meadows to mountains, fjords, and subtropical rain­forests.

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North Island is hilly with isolated mountains, active volcanoes, hot mineral springs, and geysers. Earthquakes occur, and in 1987 considerable damage was caused by one at Edgecumbe.

On South Island, the Southern Alps run north to south, and the highest point is Mount Cook at 3,753 meters or 12,313 feet. The Canterbury Plains lie to the east of the mountains, while there are fjords and glaciers in the island’s southwest. The three main cities are Auckland and Wellington on North Island, Christchurch on South Island, and the vast majority of the population live on North Island.

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New Zealand enjoys very mild winters with regular rainfall and no extremes of heat or cold. The North Island tends to a sub-tropical climate while the south is more temperate.

The wildlife is perhaps unusual in that man has introduced many species. Land mammals, including chamois, rabbit, hare, possum, and deer, were brought in by Europeans for their fur. In addition to several smaller mammals, there are the flightless kiwi and kakapo and many endemic bird species such as warblers, flycatchers, parrots, rails, penguins, shags, and dotterels.

Several marine mammals, including varieties of the whale (killer, sperm) and dolphin (dusky, common, bottlenose), can be seen in New Zealand waters. The fur seal can be found all around the coast, and although they were the focus, along with whales, of an entire industry in days gone by, numbers have now stabilized.

The country depends heavily upon its land for the major industries of agriculture, mining, and forestry. Two-thirds of New Zealand is suitable for agriculture, with meat, wool, and dairy goods being the main products.

Forestry supports the pulp and paper industry, and hydroelectric power produces cheap electricity for the manufacturing industry, accounting for 30 percent of New Zealand’s exports.

Mining is also an important industry with petroleum, natural gas, limestone, gold and iron ore being exploited.

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