New Zealand Outdoors

24 Million Sheep Can't Be Wrong
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New Zealand's endlessly varied geographical wonders, its unique native flora and curious, singular fauna are boundless sources of wonder. In a country only about the size of Colorado, the landscape offers a kaleidoscope of changing landforms. Within the space of one or two days, it's possible to view long sandy beaches, snowcapped volcanoes, deep fiords, sparkling rivers, jagged mountain ranges, steaming geothermal pools, subtropical rain forests, jewel-like lakes, dry high country basins covered in seas of waving tussocks and picturesque lowland farms.

Like Nowhere Else

Separated from the super-continent Gondwanaland 70 million years ago and surrounded by the vast barrier of the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand's islands evolved for millions of years as one huge, isolated botanical garden, allowing many ancient plants and animals to survive and evolve in ways unlike anywhere else on earth.

The characteristic New Zealand native forest is a temperate, evergreen podocarp (rimu, kahikatea, totara and matai) forest with giant tree ferns and vines very closely resembling a tropical rainforest. The second largest trees in the world, the giant kauri can be found in small forest pockets in Northland and on the Coromandel Peninsula. In spite of 1,200 years of human land clearing, about a quarter of the country still remains forested. These magnificent forest sanctuaries are filled with extraordinary varieties of trees, ferns and other flora, 84 percent of which can be found nowhere else in the world.

Thanks to the New Zealand Tourism Board for providing us with this information.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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