National Geographic : 1972 Jan
NEW ZEALAND'S BOUNTIFUL South Island By PETER BENCHLEY Photographs by JAMES L. AMOS NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHER IN AN ELOQUENT ATTEMPT to capture the character of the New Zea lander, British author Anthony Trollope wrote: "He admits the supremacy of England to every place in the world, only he is more English than any English man at home. He tells you that he has the same climate, only somewhat im proved; that he grows the same produce, only with somewhat heavier crops; that he has the same beautiful scenery at his doors, only somewhat grander in its nature and more diversified in its details; that he follows the same pursuits and after the same fashion, but with less of misery, less of want, and a more general partici pation in the gifts which God has given to the country." Taking Trollope at his word would lead one logically to conclude that the New Zealanders' principal stock-in-trade is braggadocio-if, that is, it weren't for the fact that, even a hundred years later, every one of those apparently outrageous claims is true. New Zealand consists of two main islands. From the top of the North Island, at about 34 degrees south latitude, to the bottom of the South Island, at about 47 degrees south latitude, the country is scarcely 1,000 miles long. Nowhere is it wider than 280 miles, and usually much less (map, page 97). Yet within this compact nation there are alps to rival Switzerland's, plains more fruitful than England's, streams and rivers as laden with fish as Scotland's, fiords reminiscent of Norway's, beaches as alluring as California's. The Maoris, who came centuries ago by canoe from somewhere in mid-Pacific, called it Aotearoa,the long white cloud, or bright land. The country today is an agricultural cornucopia-first Rich harvest reaps a smile at sunset from oats cutter J. A. Johnston on the Canterbury Plains. Wheat, barley, and potatoes add to the South Island's abundance, helping New Zealand achieve agricultural self-sufficiency. Sea of fleece inundates Mount White Station, northwest of Christchurch, at shearing time (following pages). The South Island's nearly 30 million sheep wax fat on highland pastures made lush by fertilizers spread by airplane.