Jonathan's Gallery of New Zealand
New Zealand is a great place for walking (tramping), climbing rafting and almost any other outdoor sport. It exhibits almost every kind of landform and type of scenery you can imagine, but within a very confined region. Mountains, rivers, glaciers, rain forests, volcanoes, caves, fiords, lakes, hot springs, boiling mud, scree slopes, tussock highlands, narrow canyons, geysers, islands, karst, mangroves, swamps, waterfalls, beaches, even a small desert - all lie in an area not much bigger than the UK. Then there is the sea! There are perhaps better examples of all these things elsewhere, but not in the same place - i.e. not side by side as they often are in NZ. The land is full of contradictions - glaciers pass through temperate forest at only 200m above sea level and a latitude of 43 degrees. The price you pay for this landscape is a large number of earthquakes, the odd eruption or two, some of the highest rainfalls on the planet! ..as well as the more mundane occurrences of avalanches, landslides and floods.
A unique feature of NZ is that, until recently, it was completely devoid of mammals except for a couple of small bat species. There were no browsing mammals (no sheep!) rather, it was a land of large and varied birds - often flightless since there was no need to fly. Similarly, with no browsing animals, unique plants existed and with no mice or rats, unique insects and reptiles evolved (or in many cases didn't evolve - they stayed the way they were at the time of the dinosaurs). So until recently, NZ was a Noah's Ark of wildlife and although it looks very natural today it has been greatly modified by the introduction of mammals. It has one of the greatest numbers of extinctions in modern times and a very large number of endangered species. These include the world's largest parrot, the world's only alpine parrot, the heaviest insect and the rarest penguins and dolphins. Although the statistics paint a tragic picture, NZ is still a great place to explore nature.
I've also written a very brief bit of history for those unfamilar with NZ - hope it's accurate! More important, and interesting, for those who want to understand NZ society today is this extract from 1839 pertaining to British sovereignity over NZ.
Map of New Zealand
What to do...