Friday, January 18, 2013

Tasman Sea - Second Crossing Continued 1/17/2013

 Is it bravery or foolishness to travel round trip on the Tasman Sea? Regardless of the answer here we are in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean "crossing the ditch"and making our way back to Australia. This quiet day gives me a chance to reflect on some of what we have seen, learned and experienced in New Zealand.

- Lying in the southwest Pacific, New Zealand consists of two main islands – the North Island and the South Island. Stewart Island and many smaller islands lie offshore.

- Kiwi is the nick name used internationally for people from New Zealand. The name drives from the “kiwi”, a flightless bird, which is native to, and the national symbol of the country.
- Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They came more than 1,00 years ago from their mythical Polynesian homeland. Today Maori make up 14% of the population and their history, language and traditions are central to New Zealand’s identity.
- New Zealand has another name, "Aotereo", which means "Land of Long White Cloud".
- New Zealand has two languages. At sporting events one will hear the national anthem in the Maori language and then the European.

-“Haka” is a traditional Maori dance. Countless New Zealand teams, normally immediately prior to an event, have performed it. It was adopted by the New Zealand ruby union team and has been performed by this team at every local and international match since 1905.
- The first European to spot the land in 1640 was a Dutchman named Abel Tasman.
-The area was mapped in the 1700's when James Cook circumvented and mapped it.
- New Zealand sits on two tectonic plates – the Pacific and the Australian. Because these plates are constantly shifting and grinding into each other, New Zealand has a lot of geological action.
- The South Island was created primarily by glacial action, the North Island primarily by      volcanic activity.
- The South Island is the largest and very rugged with many mountains.
-  The North Island is home to the largest population.
- All of the major population areas are on the east coast of the Islands.
- New Zealand's closest neighbor is Australia.
- New Zealand has had many connections to Antarctica. New Zealand in its entirety placed beneath Steward Island would touch the top of Antarctica.
- New Zealand is known for it's farming and natural exports.

These facts only begin to tell the story of New Zealand. For us, it was a land of wonderful discovery. We were impressed by the natural beauty, the friendly people and the manageability of the cities. We would love to be able to return one day to experience more of this jewel of the Pacific.

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