On the Edge of the Rim of Fire
The islands of New Zealand sit on two of the Earth’s great tectonic plates – the Australian and the Pacific
New Zealand is being torn apart every day by forces deep below the ocean. The islands of New Zealand sit on two of the Earth’s great tectonic plates – the Australian and the Pacific – which are constantly moving away from each other. This means that Christchurch in the South Island is sliding away from Auckland in the North Island by about four metres every century.
The motion between the two plates gives New Zealand its diverse geology – stunning mountain ranges formed from the plates squashing together, and deep lakes that were once active volcanoes. Today the continuous shifting and grinding is evident in smoking volcanoes and bubbling geysers in Rotorua.
While it may be a country constantly being reborn, New Zealand’s oldest rocks are 500 million years old, relics from Gondwanaland. New Zealand broke off and slipped away from Gondwanaland about 85 million years ago.