New Zealand Geography Part I

New Zealand Geography Part I


From the floristic point of view, New Zealand is home to numerous endemic species; the plant formations, however, remained intact only in the South Island, while in the North one radical changes were made by man to the environment. The forest, which covers 28.9% of the territory, is mainly made up of broad-leaved trees, especially Nothofagus, the southern beech, and conifers including the majestic Kauri pine, with a dense undergrowth rich in epiphytes and arborescent ferns; in the Auckland peninsula a species of evergreen shrub is widespread, while on most of the eastern areas of the South Island the prairie predominates with xerophilous shrub formations in the driest areas, similar to the scrub. To curb the danger of erosion resulting from the indiscriminate deforestation carried out in the past to allocate new areas to pasture, extensive reforestation has recently been carried out with imported essences, especially American pines. However, the introduction of new species has triggered a dangerous process of proliferation to the detriment of local flora and fauna. The main characteristic of New Zealand fauna is represented by birds, both those inept to flight (kiwi, takahe) and parrots. Terrestrial mammals are represented by only two types of bats, the other species present have instead been introduced by man (eg European deer, fallow deer, dog, rat); marine mammals include whales, dolphins, including the Maui dolphin, a subspecies of Hector’s dolphin that lives exclusively in New Zealand waters, and porpoises. Among the amphibians there are the frogs of the genus Leiopelma and among the Reptiles the tuatara or sphenodont. The preservation of the natural heritage is subject to the authority of the Department of Conservation aimed precisely at the care and conservation of the naturalistic and historical treasures of the country for future generations as its Maori name, Te Papa says. (container for treasures) Atawhay (care, education, conservation). Among other things, the department deals with the management of the system of protected areas which in New Zealand cover a total of 21.3% of the territory and are divided into 14 national parks, located in the major islands and 2 in the Cook Islands, and many reserves. marinas, marine parks and other areas with a mixed vocation. L ‘ UNESCO declared world heritage site of natural interest Te Wahipounamu which is located in the south west of New Zealand (1990, 1993), where among beech and Podocarpacee live takahe and kea (nestore notable), the only alpine parrots in the world, and the Subantarctic Islands (1998), a denomination that includes 5 groups of islands (Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland and Campbell islands) characterized by the presence of numerous animal species (various ocean birds such as albatross and cormorants, and penguins) and endemic plants. The Tongariro National Park in 1993 was included in the UNESCO lists of naturalistic and cultural interest as the nature, spirituality and tradition linked to the Maori come together in a very suggestive unicum.

New Zealand Geography 1


The essential nucleus of New Zealand, a country located in Oceania according to, formed by the two large islands of the North and the South, divided by the Cook Strait, just 26 km wide, is inserted in the great Melanesian island arc. Both the two main islands and the smaller islands arise from a plateau no more than 1000 m deep, the New Zealand platform, extending approx. 1 million kmĀ², which to the W sinks towards the abyssal plane of the Tasman Sea and to the SE towards the seabed of the oceanic sector delimited by the Macquarie ridge and the Pacific-Antarctic ridge. Immediately E of the Kermadec Islands, on the continuation of the eastern edge of the platform, opens the deep and long incision occupied by the trenches of the Kermadec and that of the Tonga, which plunge to over 10,000 m: along this alignment passes the border between the circumpacific region and the real pacific domain. own. The emergence and consequent structural delineation of New Zealand took place relatively recently, as a consequence of the lifting of a crustal plate as part of the tectogenetic activity that affected the Melanesian arc during the Cenozoic.

The lifting process was not uniform and continuous, but developed in several phases, the last of which seems to have ended in the early Pleistocene (Neozoic): the orogenetic phase manifested in the Pliocene, which pushed the relief to greater heights than the current ones, was above all vigorous. The various stresses to which the rock formations were subjected as a consequence of the uplift caused numerous fractures and magma effusion; the same separation between the two main islands was produced by fracture. Volcanic activity has had considerable development in the North Island, attested by the presence of imposing volcanic buildings and where there are still signs of a volcanism not completely dormant, while in the South Island it is mainly expressed in the erection of the two apparatuses that they make up the Otago and Banks peninsulas, along the east coast. Much more intense in the South Island was the orogenetic activity, culminating with the uplift of the great mountain ridge of the Southern Alps or New Zealand Alps. In addition to the mostly Cenozoic and Neozoic volcanic formations particularly widespread in the North Island, rocks of all ages emerge on the New Zealand soil, from the Precambrian to the Neozoic, mainly represented by sedimentary and metamorphic soils, shales and sandstones, schists, gneisses, quartzites and marbles. The oldest rocks appear mainly on the South Island, particularly in numerous small areas along the northwestern coastal strip. Paleozoic soils emerge both in the North Island, around the Bay of Islands, and in the South Island, in particular in the southern section of the New Zealand Alps, in the Otago region and, at both ends of the island, in the Nelson area to the NW and in the Southland area to the SW.


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