The geography of New Zealand encompasses two main islands (the North and South Islands, Te-Ika-a-Maui and Te Wai Pounamu in Māori) and a number of smaller islands, located near the centre of the water hemisphere. New Zealand varies in climate, from cold and wet to dry and to subtropical in some areas. The dramatic and varied landscape of New Zealand has made it a popular location for the production of television programmes and films, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Neighboring countries include Australia to the northwest and Tonga and Fiji to the north.
New Zealand is in Oceania, in the South Pacific Ocean at 41°S 174°E. It has an area of 268,680 square kilometers (103,738 sq. mi) (including Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Islands, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands), making it slightly smaller than Italy and Japan and a little larger than the United Kingdom. These islands are the main areas of land that emerged from the largely submerged continent of Zealandia.
New Zealand has 15,134 km (9,398 mi) of coastline and extensive marine resources. The country claims the seventh-largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering over four million square kilometers (1.5 million sq mi), more than 15 times its land area. It has no land borders.
The South Island is the largest land mass and contains about one quarter of the population. The island is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 meters (12,316 ft). There are 18 peaks of more than 3000 meters (9800 ft) in the South Island.
The North Island is less mountainous than the South, and is marked by volcanism. The island's tallest mountain, Mount Ruapehu (2797 m / 9176 ft), is an active cone volcano. Lake Taupo is near the centre of the North Island and is the largest lake by surface area in the country. It lies in a caldera created by the largest eruption in the world in the past 70,000 years (see Oruanui eruption).