The breathtaking scenery and landscape make for some interesting geographical facts of New Zealand. This gorgeous country has inspired many travelers to visit, either just to soak up the scintillating views or throw themselves into bungee jumping, rock climbing, hot air ballooning and all manner of outdoor activities. Let’s take a short journey through some of the geographical facts of New Zealand and see what all the fuss is about.
1. Highest Point in New Zealand
The most obvious of geographical facts of New Zealand to start with features its mountains – of which there are plenty! Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, with three peaks measuring 3,753 metres. Experienced climbers may wish to tackle the mountain with climbing gear, but there are trails for tourists who do not wish to exert themselves too much reaching the top of the mountain.
2. Largest Lake in New Zealand
The biggest lake in New Zealand is Lake Taupo, located on North Island. The lake is the largest by surface area, and the second-largest freshwater lake in the whole of the Oceania continent. The Mine Bay features a Maori carving which was created in the 1970s, accessible only by boat. The carving is there to ward off volcanic activities from interfering with the lake, but has become a popular tourist attraction since it was first carved.
3. New Zealand’s Most Active Volcano
Although the country is littered with volcanoes, the vast majority of the volcanoes in New Zealand are dormant. However the Whakaari, or White Island, volcano is the most active. The volcano itself is almost two kilometres in diameter, and although it has been deserted for almost 100 years, scientists and tourists are still attracted to the site. It has been dubbed one of the most accessible volcanoes in the world, explaining the huge number of scientists who arrive to study it. The volcano is still one of the most active volcanoes in New Zealand, and is expected to potentially erupt at some point in 2013.
4. Longest River in New Zealand
Another of the geographical facts about New Zealand that is also high in the beautiful scenery stakes is the Waikato River. The river flows into the largest lake in New Zealand, and spans 425 kilometres, making it the longest river in New Zealand. The name is Maori, and translates directly into English as “flowing water.” The connections with the Maori people are still very strong, with tribes believing that the river provides them with their mana (pride).
5. Tallest Waterfall in New Zealand
Although many believe the Browne Falls to be the biggest waterfall in New Zealand, others see the Sutherland Falls as being more worthy of the title. Technically, the Browne Falls are taller, but with a gradient of just over 40 degrees, the Falls themselves are quite disappointing. Therefore the Sutherland Falls are generally seen as being the highest waterfall in New Zealand, with a height of just over 580 metres.
6. Wettest Place in New Zealand
The title of wettest place in New Zealand goes to Milford Sound. Technically, it is the wettest inhabited place in the country, with 264 inches of rain each year on average. The Sound is so wet that the forests which line the cliff faces are prone to landslides. There are many temporary waterfalls which are also produced by the sheer amount of rain which falls in the area, in addition to the two permanent waterfalls.
7. Deepest Cave in New Zealand
New Zealand’s deepest cave is the Ellis Basin Cave System. It actually only took the title (from Nettlebed Cave) in 2010, when it was explored to a depth of 1,024 meters (3,360 feet). At 33.4 kms (20.75 miles) in length, it is the second longest cave in New Zealand.
8. Biggest Earthquake in New Zealand
One of the factors of the geography of New Zealand that helped shape its landscape is that the country is in an earthquake zone – a fact we were reminded of with the earthquake centered on Christchurch in February 2011. The biggest recorded earthquake in New Zealand happened 23 January 1855, measuring 8.2 on the Richter Scale. It was on the North Island and Wellington suffered major damage.
The geography of New Zealand is as deliciously diverse as the landscape of the two islands that make up the country. I love the romance of the place too – who wouldn’t fall in love with somewhere with the nickname of “The Land of the Long White Cloud” – Charming, n’est-ce pas?