New Zealand - is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses – that of the North Island, or TeIka-a-Māui, and the South Island, or TeWaipounamu – and numerous smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometres (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long isolation, New Zealand developed a distinctive biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life; most notable are the large number of unique bird species. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. Visit New Zealand’s national parks if you want to discover the natural soul of the land. The real gems of this country, the national parks preserve the natural heritage, forests, wildlife and landscapes, close to – and in some cases, exactly – as it was before man was here.