New Zealand is a beautiful island country composed of two islands that is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, approximately 4.000 km southeast of Australia. There are approximately 4.5 million people that inhabit the two islands. New Zealand has recently earned a spot in the world of tourism, mostly due to its captivating scenery and role in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.
New Zealand is an island comprised mainly of continental crust. The island is located on an active segment of the boundary between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. The two plates push against each other along a curving boundary creating rifts and subduction zones. This is the reason for the mountain ranges that run down the middle of both islands. Additionally, New Zealand has over 15,000 km of coastline. In the far north and most of the east coast, there are long sandy beaches that are mainly used for swimming, surfing and sunbathing. The North Island’s west coast has dark sandy beaches that are rich in iron. South Island’s coastline, however, tends to be more rugged and rocky, although the north shore has some sandy beaches.
Another unique aspect of New Zealand is its biodiversity. High amounts of rainfall and ample sunshine allow for a diverse population of flora. Today, 80% of the species located on the islands are native. The large evergreen forests are composed primarily of rimu, totara, beech and the kauri, which is the largest native tree species. There is also dense undergrowth of mosses, lichens, ferns and shrubs. One tree species, the pohutukawa tree, has bright red flowers that bloom in December and has been commonly used as the Christmas tree. There are also many species of animals, including an abundance of birds. Due to the fact that there were few natural predators, many of these bird species became flightless.
One of the appeals of New Zealand is the abundance of tourist attractions. Many tourists take advantage of the landscape, by walking and hiking, cycling and mountain biking, camping, scenic flights, and fly fishing. New Zealand is also known for its sports games and cultural arts and music festivals. Additionally, New Zealand’s captivating scenery was used in several films, most notably, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogy. Since 2001, New Zealand has become known as the home to Middle Earth. Many tourists come from all over the world to visit the filming locations, which has created a subculture within the tourism industry. One of the most famous locations is Hobbiton, a permanent set, which holds Bag End, home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, the two main characters of the Lord of the Rings. There are also a variety of tours to many of the filming locations, like the Waitomo Caves, Volcanic Ruapehu, Mangaotaki Valley, Mount Olympus and Eco Wanaka.