In its native Maori tongue, New Zealand is called “Aotearoa,” meaning “Land of the Long White Cloud.” It’s not hard to see why. Look at satellite pictures of New Zealand and you’ll see two long skinny islands with a smaller dot of land below, defined by a backbone of mountains running almost the full length of the country. If you can see the mountains beneath the long line of white cloud that is.
The Southern Alps that form the spine of New Zealand sit abreast the joining of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. The ridge line formed by this primordial union – separating the vast Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean weather patterns either side – throw up the high levels of precipitation that give this country it’s Maori name. Add in New Zealand’s elongated shape and isolated position in the South Pacific and you have a country with dramatically different geographical and climate regions; home to a wonderfully unique range of native flora and fauna.