|New Zealand consists of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, and numerous smaller ones in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,800 kilometers southeast of Australia. New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation and has developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, a number of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and the mammals they introduced. New Zealand is about the size of the United Kingdom, and with a total population of around four million, many areas are sparsely settled.
The North Island is warm, with scenery ranging from sandy beaches, through rolling farmland to active volcano peaks. Although it is smaller than the South Island it is more populous, with half of the New Zealand population living north of lake Taupo, in the middle of the island. Many of the North Island's lakes are the result of volcanic eruptions. The biggest of these crater lakes is Taupo, one of the top trout fishing destinations. You can also catch trout in many of Rotorua's crater lakes. Dune lakes are interesting phenomenon. At Kai Iwi in Northland there are three beautiful dune lakes fringed with pure white sand. Near Levin on the west coast of the North Island, the dune lake Papaitonga is edged with wetlands that are great for bird watching. If you are an ocean-loving person, there are road journeys that will keep you in touch with the sea every step of the way. Northland has the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, a touring route that includes both the east and the west coasts.
The South Island is characterized by grand open landscapes. Divided by a backbone of spectacular mountains, aptly called the Southern Alps, The South Island is known for its magnificent fiords, large beech forests, beautiful golden sand beaches, broad plains and large glaciers. Dividing the island, the alps effect climate and flora. A majority of the South Island's national parks are strung out along the main divide. Most of the South Island's lakes were born from the same kind of glacial action that created the fiords. Lake Te Anau is the largest, covering an area of 344 sq. km. Lake Manapouri is often regarded as the most beautiful - it has 34 islands and is 440 meters deep in places.
Auckland on the North Island is the largest metropoplitan area in New Zealand with a population of around 1.25 million. It is composed of four separate cities, Manukau City in the south, Waitakere City in the west, North Shore City in the north and Auckland City itself. Christchurch, often called the Garden City, is the largest city on the South Island with a population of around 350,000. It is on the edge of the Canterbury plains and has the South Island's biggest international airport, making it a major stepping off point for touring the South Island.