Last update: October 15th, 2019 at 1:07 pm
The first settlers of New Zealand, who came to the islands sometime between 950 and 1130 AD, came to the islands by sea, likely in twin-hulled or outrigger canoes. Their name for their new land was “Aotearoa” which means “land of the long white cloud”. It is an apt name, especially in winter, when clouds hang over the land greater than 50% of the time.
In mid-July, 2015 the clouds parted over New Zealand to reveal a crisply clear winter scene. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) captured this true-color image on July 12. Snow covers the high peaks of the Southern Alps on South Island and the Ruahine Range on North Island while the surrounding land appears bright green. Although the skies over New Zealand are cloud-free, long banks of white cloud hang offshore, surrounding the island nation.
New Zealand sits in the South Pacific Ocean roughly 2,000 km (1,250 miles) southeast of Australia. Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is located on the southern tip of the North Island, looking across Cook Strait toward South Island.