New Zealand Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in New Zealand?

Overview:

New Zealand is located in the South Pacific, some 1,200 miles southeast of Australia. The country consists of two main islands and a number of smaller islands. The main North and South Islands are separated by Cook Strait, which at its narrowest point is about 15 miles wide. All but 1% of its area is in the two main islands: the North Island with 44,281 square miles, and the less populated South Island with 58,093 square miles. Stewart Island covers 670 square miles and is located off the South Island’s southern tip. New Zealand also includes small outlying islands, which are difficult to reach from the mainland: the Chatham Islands, Raoul Island, and Campbell Island.

New Zealand has a highly varied terrain with mountain ranges and hill country dominating the landscape. A massive mountain chain, the Southern Alps, runs almost the length of the South Island. The North Island also has mountain ranges, and four volcanic peaks, including Mt. Ruapehu, which has been active (but not dangerous) since September 1995. These mountains, along with fjords, glaciers, lakes, hot springs, geysers, mudpools, and beaches, give New Zealand some of the most spectacular natural scenery on earth.

Geography - note:

almost 90% of the population lives in cities; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world

Climate:

New Zealand lies in the Temperate Zone and has a generally mild, invigorating climate although with sharp regional contrasts. The rugged terrain of the country has a dramatic effect on the weather. Many parts of the country are subject to high winds and rains followed by sharp drops in temperature. January and February are New Zealand’s warmest months with July normally the coldest. Spells of cool, damp weather occur even in the summer, from December through February. Rainy winter days of June, July, and August are interspersed with days of brilliant sunshine and crisp, clear air. October, November, and December are particularly windy months. Winds of 60 mph are not unusual, especially in the Wellington area, and on rare occasions they exceed 100 mph. As the mountainous terrain suggests, New Zealand lies in an area of active earthquakes and volcanism ringing the Pacific Plate. A major fault line runs through Wellington. Earthquakes are sometimes felt but rarely cause damage.

New Zealand Use of Natural Resources

New Zealand Environment

Climate:

New Zealand lies in the Temperate Zone and has a generally mild, invigorating climate although with sharp regional contrasts. The rugged terrain of the country has a dramatic effect on the weather. Many parts of the country are subject to high winds and rains followed by sharp drops in temperature. January and February are New Zealand’s warmest months with July normally the coldest. Spells of cool, damp weather occur even in the summer, from December through February. Rainy winter days of June, July, and August are interspersed with days of brilliant sunshine and crisp, clear air. October, November, and December are particularly windy months. Winds of 60 mph are not unusual, especially in the Wellington area, and on rare occasions they exceed 100 mph. As the mountainous terrain suggests, New Zealand lies in an area of active earthquakes and volcanism ringing the Pacific Plate. A major fault line runs through Wellington. Earthquakes are sometimes felt but rarely cause damage.

Terrain:

predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains

Natural Resources:

natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone

Natural Hazards:

earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity

Irrigated Land:

2,391 Square Miles
6,193 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; native flora and fauna hard-hit by species introduced from outside

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Antarctic Seals, Marine Life Conservation

New Zealand Geography

Geographic Location Oceania
Total Area 103,363 Square Miles
267,710 Square Kilometers
Land Area 103,363 Square Miles
267,710 Square Kilometers
Irrigated Land 2,391 Square Miles
6,193 Square Kilometers
Coastline 9,404 Miles
15,134 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 41 00 S, 174 00 E
Terrain predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains
Highest Point 3,754 Meters
Highest Point Location Aoraki-Mount Cook 3,754 m
Lowest Point Location Pacific Ocean 0 m
Natural Resources natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone
Time Zone UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

note: New Zealand has two time zones - New Zealand standard time (12 hours in advance of UTC), and Chatham Islands time (45 minutes in advance of New Zealand standard time)
Daylight saving time +1hr, begins last Sunday in September; ends first Sunday in April
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