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  • Now when I think of New Zealand, really only 1 word seems to come to mind:

  • Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu

  • [Geography Now! theme]

  • Hey everyone, I'm your host, Barbs.

  • New Zealand is one of those places where a few people have made a powerful image for themselves.

  • It's one of the last places on Earth to be discovered and inhabited by humans,

  • and when they arrived, it was unlike anything anyone had ever seen.

  • Mostly because there were these massive, 12 feet tall bird monsters.

  • We'll get into that in a bit, but first...

  • ♪♪

  • New Zealand is not only a key player in the ocean nations, but a geographic anomaly.

  • As in, half the time when you look at artwork or decorations or newscasts or even educational books,

  • New Zealand is forgotten from the map.

  • Kiwis even joke about it. Even their government website "404 Page Not Found" website pokes fun at it.

  • Anyway, New Zealand, or Aotearoa, is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean,

  • about 1,200 miles (or 2,000 kilometers) off the coast of Australia

  • and about 600 miles (or 1,000 kilometers) from the nearest major islands of Fiji, Tonga, and New Caledonia,

  • meaning technically, France is their closest neighbor.

  • The country is made up of 2 main large islands, aptly named the North Island, or Te-Ika a-Maui,

  • which makes up about 42% of the landmass yet holds about ¾ of the population,

  • and the larger yet less populated South Island, or Te Waipou-Namu, at about 56% of the land mass.

  • The remaining 2-ish% of the land mass is made up of hundreds of interior and outlying islands,

  • 33 main ones that are either around the main 2 islands like the largest one, Stewart Island just south of South Island,

  • Then you have the outlying island chains, like the northernmost Kermadec Islands,

  • the easternmost Chatham Islands, and the Subantarctic southernmost point, the Campbell Islands.

  • The country is a unitary state divided into 16 councils; 11 regional councils and 5 unitary regional councils.

  • The Chatham Islands act as their own special territorial authority.

  • The second largest city, Wellington, is the capital, the southernmost capital in the world.

  • However, Auckland up north is the largest city, which holds about a third of the entire population of the country

  • with the largest and busiest airport, Auckland International.

  • Otherwise, Christchurch on South Island is the third largest city

  • and holds the second busiest airport, Christchurch International.

  • But wait, that's not all! The sovereignty claim extends even further

  • and then you get the 3 New Zealand Realm territories and free association island nations.

  • These are Tokelau, the Cook Islands, and Niue.

  • Tokelau is considered a non-self-governing dependent territory.

  • It also has a territorial dispute with American Samoa over Swains Island.

  • Whereas the Cook Islands and Niue are labeled as self-governing states in free association with New Zealand.

  • Finally, you have the Ross Dependency, which is New Zealand's claim to Antarctica,

  • which of course under the Antarctic Treaty does not actually fall under their sovereignty, but you know.

  • A lot of people like to say they have something they can't.

  • Whoo! For a nation that doesn't even show up half the time on maps, there's a lot going on here!

  • But wait! If New Zealand is just an island in the middle of the Pacific, which continent is New Zealand a part of?

  • Ah, good question. That is a question that has kind of stumped cartographers for centuries.

  • In the simplest sense, categorically New Zealand is part of the broader region known as Oceania,

  • which is basically just Australia plus everything else in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

  • Technically, Australia and New Zealand together are called Australasia.

  • However, it's weird because New Zealand doesn't lie on the same continental shelf as Australia.

  • This has led to the consideration of New Zealand belonging to a newer sub-region known as Zealandia,

  • classified by some dude in the 90s as either a continental fragment or a "microcontinent"

  • made up of a submerged continental crust shelf that expands all the way from New Caledonia

  • to an empty spot in the ocean just south of the Campbell Islands.

  • 93% of Zealandia is submerged, with New Zealand being the largest protruding segment.

  • Either way, however, you want to categorize it, New Zealand is kind of strange.

  • Wait! Go back to the self-governing island thing.

  • Do they belong to New Zealand or are they full countries?

  • Good question. It's kind of like this:

  • NEW ZEALAND: Okay guys, look, the British just kind of put you under my jurisdiction,

  • so I guess that means you're all New Zealand citizens, okay?

  • COOK ISLANDS: Yeah, but we all have our own languages and customs

  • and want to write a constitution for ourselves with free association status.

  • We're basically countries in our own right but under your overarching sovereignty, I guess.

  • NIUE: Like your military can come in for defense, but otherwise we got everything else covered.

  • TOKELAU: I mean, guys, I have less than 2,000 people on less than 5 square miles of land on 3 islands.

  • I think I'll just become a dependent territory state.

  • NZ: All right, fair enough. Two "kind of" countries with loose ties

  • and 1 dependent territory country with stronger ties. Got it.

  • TK: Plus, hey, I became the first completely solar-powered nation in the world.

  • NZ: Not exactly fully functional "sovereign nation state" by definition but yeah, good for you!

  • Some places of interest in New Zealand might include:

  • the world's steepest street at a gradient of 38°,

  • the National Museum,

  • Auckland Sky Tower (you can actually jump off of it),

  • the Rotorua geysers in traditionalori village,

  • Rainbow's End and Splash Planet,

  • the International Antarctic Center,

  • Hobbiton,

  • so many wine fields like the ones in Marlborough,

  • Ninety Mile Beach (which is actually only 56 miles),

  • Waitomo caves with glowworms,

  • Frying Pan Lake,

  • and the Meraki spherical boulders.

  • And honestly, I could go on and on with all the natural wonders of this country,

  • but that would take like 50 videos and we gotta cram as much as we can in this one.

  • So let's just talk about all the natural stuff of New Zealand. Shall we?

  • ♪♪

  • Now, New Zealand is an outdoors country, world-renowned for its mind-blowingly wonderful landscape,

  • displayed in a number of films and movies.

  • Fun fact: "The Lord of the Rings" gave them so much publicity and tourism money

  • that they even have a Minister of the Rings in their Parliament.

  • Oh, do they now?

  • You wrote the script for the episode and I'm just reading off the teleprompter, so I figured you would know that.

  • I did! First of all:

  • The country is located in the Ring of Fire on the convergence of the Pacific and Australian plates

  • that creates the mountainous Southern Alps of the southern island.

  • Here you can find the tallest peak, Mt. Cook, or Aoraki, at over 12,000 feet (or 3,700 meters),

  • whereas across the Cook Strait, the smaller Kaweka range can be found in the North Island.

  • This, in return, makes the country subject to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

  • There are about 83 known volcanoes of all types, and the largest active one being Ruapehu on North Island.

  • Otherwise, you can see other volcanic wonders like the dormant Banks Peninsula on South Island,

  • and the eerily perfect circular Mt. Taranaki on the west side of North Island.

  • Just a skip away you can find the largest lake, Lake Taupo, in the Taupo Caldera,

  • one of the largest super volcanoes on Earth.

  • From there, the lake is drained by the longest river of the country, the Waikato.

  • Now, New Zealand is interesting because due to its shape,

  • there is no part of the country that is more than about 80 miles or so from the ocean.

  • The flatter valleys on the sides of the mountains are where most people live and produce crops and livestock.

  • Skip a little further west and you get the least inhabited and difficult to access

  • but most breathtaking part of New Zealand, the fjordland.

  • Steep cliffs plunging into the Tasman Sea, with Milford Sound being the most popular spot

  • and the only one accessible by road.

  • New Zealand ranks as one of the topmost landform diverse countries on Earth,

  • having everything from alpine forests, glaciers, geothermal geysers -

  • they even have a small desert in the middle of North Island,

  • and on some of the coasts you have tropical beaches with magnetic black sand containing magnetite.

  • Seriously, I still have some. Check it out. This is from Piha Beach in North Island.

  • Whoa, it sticks on!

  • Now the one thing about New Zealand that set it apart upon discovery is that other than 2 species of bat,

  • the entire island had no mammals prior to human encounter.

  • Now this is usually the part where Noah comes in, but he had a scheduling conflict and couldn't be here today,

  • so therefore, I-sum-mon-random-Hannah!

  • [ethereal humming]

  • Hannah, take it away.

  • The country is a bird haven, with over 200 species, over half endemic to New Zealand.

  • And, the funny thing, many of which are flightless. It's like the flightless bird capital of the world.

  • Species such as the kakapo, the world's only flightless nocturnal parrot,

  • and they have more species of penguin than anywhere else on the planet.

  • At one point a long time ago, they used to have the moa, a 12-foot tall monster,

  • until it was hunted by the nativeori to extinction.

  • Then you have the national animal, the famous kiwi, a flightless bird which comes in 5 forms on both islands,

  • known for their hair-like feathers, long beaks with nostrils, making them some of the only few bird species that can smell.

  • Otherwise, with flying birds, you have the kea, the world's only Alpine parrot,

  • and if you see one, they are curious creatures, unafraid of humans, that love to chew on shiny objects or rubber.

  • Seriously, those guys tried to steal my stuff one time.

  • Outside of the bird world, you can find reptiles like the tuatara, which has a third parietal eye on the top of its head,

  • or the giant weta, the heaviest insect on earth. Eugh!

  • Resource-wise, the country is known for its huge dairy farming and livestock industry.

  • Jade, or greenstone, is a precious stone mined and sold here,

  • as well as often carved into jewelry or traditionalori tools and ornaments.

  • Besides all that though, much of the country makes money through tourism,

  • specifically outdoor tourism, specifically Queensland on South Island.

  • This place offers everything from skydiving, paragliding, and zorbing, which, by the way, the Kiwis invented.

  • And speaking of Kiwi inventions, food!

  • Kiwis are without a doubt seafood folk.

  • Native species like gurnard, hoki, hake, hapuku, paua, and crayfish

  • are made into numerous dishes: cooked, raw, smoked, steamed, battered and fried with chips.

  • If that's not your thing, some non-fishy Kiwi dishes might include things like:

  • roast lamb,

  • savory meat pies,

  • hokey pokey ice cream,

  • Kiwi-style burger,

  • manuka honey,

  • kumara,

  • L&P drink,

  • pavlova cake,

  • and one of the most traditionalori dishes, hangi.

  • And speaking of cultural tradition, we go to...

  • ♪♪

  • Thank you, Hannah. Feel free to follow her on Instagram.

  • No problem.

  • [whooshing sound]

  • Yeah, that's a thing now.

  • Now, this is gonna be the best part of the episode because the people of New Zealand,