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Geography - Physical Features

Source: New Zealand Official Yearbook 2000. Please note, this information may now be out of date.

New Zealand lies in the south-west Pacific Ocean and comprises two main and a number of smaller islands. Their combined area of 270,500 sq km is similar to the size of Japan or the British Isles.

The main islands, the North and South Islands, are separated by Cook Strait which at its narrowest point is 20 km wide. The administrative boundaries of New Zealand extend from 33 to 53 south latitude, and from 160 east to 173 west longitude.

Land area of New Zealand1

Land area

Size (sq km)

North Island


South Island


Offshore islands2


Stewart Island


Chatham Islands


Raoul Island


Campbell Island


Source: Land Information New Zealand

1. Includes all internal waterways (lakes and rivers).
2. Includes all offshore islands 20 sq km or larger, except those listed separately.

New Zealand is more than 1,600 km long and 450 km wide at its widest part. In the North Island the main ranges run generally north-east to south-west. A massive mountain chain, the Southern Alps, runs almost the length of the South Island. There are many outlying ranges to the Southern Alps in the north, and the south-west of the South Island.

The highest mountain is Mt Cook (3,754 m). The longest river is the Waikato (425 km) and the largest lake is Lake Taupo (606 sq km).

Quick Facts - Land and Environment

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