Situated on two techtonic plates, the Australian Indian plate and the Pacific Plate, New Zealand is a land lifted high. In the North Island one plate is slipping under the other. This has created one major mountain range that stretches from the East Cape and extends south to Wellington. This process also causes the intense volcanic activity that New Zealand is famous for. In the South Island the process is different as the two plates are smashing into each other, (the same process that created the Himilaya's). This has given New Zealand its most spectacular natural feature, the Southern Alps. These mountains are an impressive 650-kilometre's long on an island that is 840 km/522 mi. They rise abruptly along the west coast and only reach the east coast in Kaikoura.
The highest peak in this Southern Alps and Australasia for that matter is is Mt Cook, which measures 3,684 meters (12,283 feet). Sir Edmund Hillary gained his mountaineering experience on Mt Cook, before becoming the first man to climb the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest. New Zealand also contains some deeply indented fiords along the south west coastline, and give the country some of its most spectacular scenery.
The North Island's highest peak is Mt Ruapehu which is 2,797 metres or 9,175 feet high. This mountain is a volcano, and had some eruptions back in 1995 and 1996. Mt Ruapehu is also the location for the best skiing in the North Island. Most of New Zealand's ski fields are located in the South Island however.
New Zealand has 24 peaks above 3000 metres. They are as follows: