New Zealand

Range TypeArchipelago
Highest PointMount Cook (3754 m/12,316 ft)
CountriesNew Zealand
Area271,442 sq km / 104,804 sq mi
Area may include lowland areas
Extent4,154 km / 2,581 mi North-South
32,045 km / 19,912 mi East-West
Center Lat/Long43° 36' S; 170° 24' E
Map LinkMicrosoft Bing Map

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New Zealand is composed of two principal islands, imaginatively called the North and South Islands. They both have impressive mountains, but the difference between the peaks on the two islands is striking.

The North Island

The North Island is dominated topographically by large volcanic cones looming over the landscape. The highest is recently-erupted (1996) Mt. Ruapehu (9177'/2797m), in the center of the North Island, and two lower peaks to the north, Mt. Ngauruhoe (7516'/2291m) and Mt. Tongariro (6457'/1968') are part of the same range. All three volcanos are part of Tongariro National Park, and Ruapehu offers skiing at two areas on its slopes, as long as there is no threat of lava flowing down onto skiers.

On an bulge on the North Island's west coast lies another volcano, Mt. Taranaki (8261'/2518m). Also called Mt. Egmont, it is the second highest peak on the island and an alomst perfect cone in the tradition of Mt. Fuji.

The South Island

In contrat to the volcanoes of the north, the South Island's backbone is the high and rugged Southern Alps, among the most impressive and difficult mountains in the world. Although not high by world standards, the range rises almost from sea level and gets hammered by terrible weather all year, resulting in massive snowfalls and extensive glaciers. The western slopes of the Southern Alps are the only place in the world where glaciers descend into the heart of temperate rainforest.

The highest point in the Southern Alps and all New Zealand is Mt. Cook (12,316'/3754m), but several other peaks nearby rise over 3000m, and Mt. Aspring, well to the south, is a "Matterhorn"-type peak that is just as impressive. Mountaineering in this range is in many ways as challenging as any in the world--extreme paitience is needed to wait out the terrible weather, and the steep, glacier-gouged slopes and their continuous avalanches bar easy access to any major summit. After all, Sir Edmund Hillary learned his craft here.

The Southen Alps overshadow the other ranges in the eastern parts of the South Island, but they can still be impressive. For example, Tapuaenuku (9465'/2885m), in the Inland Kaikoura Range, is still higher than any peak on the North Island. The Kaikoura Ranges, the "Remarkables" series of crags near Queenstown, and other ranges of the sheep-farming country of the eastern South Island are all as dry as the Southern Alps are wet--Mt. Cook and company wring all the moisture out of the wet air attacking the Westland, producing an example of a dramatic rain shadow.

Map of New Zealand
Click on neighboring ranges to navigate to them.
Lesser Australian Ranges Great Dividing Range Melanesia
Note: Range borders shown on map are an approximation and are not authoritative.

Other Ranges: To go to pages for other ranges either click on the map above, or on range names in the hierarchy snapshot below, which show the parent, siblings, and children of the New Zealand.
Australia-OceaniaLevel 1 (Parent)
         New GuineaLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Lesser Australian RangesLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Great Dividing RangeLevel 2 (Sibling)
         New ZealandLevel 2
                 New Zealand North IslandLevel 3 (Child)
                 Lesser South Island RangesLevel 3 (Child)
                 Southern AlpsLevel 3 (Child)
                 Minor Australia-New Zealand Outlying IslandsLevel 3 (Child)
         MicronesiaLevel 2 (Sibling)
         MelanesiaLevel 2 (Sibling)
         PolynesiaLevel 2 (Sibling)

Major Peaks of the New Zealand

Ten Highest Peaks
RankPeak NamemftRange3
1.Mount Cook375412,316Southern Alps
2.Mount Tasman349711,473Southern Alps
3.Mount Dampier344011,286Southern Alps
4.Mount Vancouver330910,856Southern Alps
5.Silberhorn330010,827Southern Alps
6.Malte Brun319910,495Southern Alps
7.Mount Hicks319810,492Southern Alps
8.Ledenfeld Peak319410,479Southern Alps
9.Mount Graham318410,446Southern Alps
10.Torres Peak316010,367Southern Alps
Sub-peaks are excluded from this list. List may not be complete, since only summits in the PBC Database are included.
Child Range High Points
RankPeak NamemftRange3
1.Mount Cook375412,316Southern Alps
2.Tapuae-o-Uenuku28859465Lesser South Island Ranges
3.Mount Ruapehu27979177New Zealand North Island
4.Mount Anglem9803215Minor Australia-New Zealand Outlying Islands

Photos of Peaks in the New Zealand

Mount Cook

Mount Cook's summit is barely visible amid a swirl of clouds in this view from Mount Ollivier, above Mount Cook town (1993-11-16).
Mount Sefton

This photo shows why the Southern Alps of New Zealand are one of the premier mountaineering areas of the world. The supreme icy majesty of Mount Sefton (1993-11-16).
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Bad hair day on the summit.. (2014-05-03). Photo by Bill Johnson.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Mount Ruapehu

A lone skier "boots up" from the top ski lift of the Turoa ski area towards the summit crest of Ruapehu (1993-11-12).
Mount Taranaki

Looking back at the broad snowfields on the classic cone of Mount Taranaki (1993-11-28).
Mount Ollivier

Mount Ollivier was the first peak ever climbed by Edmund Hillary, and remains a popular scramble from the nearby Mount Cook Village area (1993-11-16).

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