NEW ZEALAND: Land of the Hobbits… and So Much More
Faces - The Magazine of People, Places and Cultures for Kids|November/December 2020
You might think that you don’t know very much about New Zealand, but chances are that you have seen it.
Marcia Amidon Lusted
If you have watched the Lord of the Rings movie franchise, you’re seeing New Zealand in the scenes of Hobbiton, Rivendell, and Mount Doom. But while the movies have generated a whole industry of Lord of the Rings tourism, there’s so much more to this island country than just a visit from Hollywood.

New Zealand is an island nation located in the Southern Pacific Ocean. It is about 1,300 miles east of Australia. Because they are relatively close together and make up an area known as Australasia, many people think New Zealand is part of Australia, but New Zealand is very much its own country. It consists of two long, narrow islands, North Island (Te-Ika-a-Maui) and South Island (Te Wai Pounamu), that are separated by the Cook Strait, a 14-mile wide strip of water. These larger islands are part of a submerged continent called Zealandia. New Zealand also includes about 600 smaller islands for a total area of 103,500 square miles, about the same size as the state of Colorado.

New Zealand’s islands are located on the geological fault line between the Pacific and the Australian tectonic plates. The movement that happens when the two plates rub against each other causes volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. The North Island still has three active volcanoes, Mount Ngauruhoe, Mount Ruapehu, and Mount Tongariro. The geography of the islands is mostly due to the constant pushing and crumpling of the moving plates.

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