New Zealand is an island country comprised of two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands. The snow-capped Southern Alps dominate the South Island. There are 18 peaks over 9,800 feet. The North Island stretches northward towards the subtropics.
The country is situated approximately 900 miles east of Australia across the Tasman Sea. Due to its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. Polynesians settled New Zealand in 1250–1300 AD and developed a distinctive Māori culture which is still evident today and taught in many school systems.
Our travels took two days across the Tasman Sea from Melbourne, Australia. We enjoyed fairly calm seas and clear weather making the trip far more enjoyable than predicted. The first stop was the Fjordlands located in the southwestern corner of South Island. The following day we arrived on the east coast and did the rest of our travels northward to Auckland before heading home after this three-week adventure.