The landscape that gives the West Coast of New Zealand its beauty also makes it inhospitable. In the 19th century gold prospectors and European migrants tried to settle the region, but the thick rainforest and wetlands defeated early attempts to settle the land. West coast rainforest is home to a huge diversity of flora and fauna and we see from the air the expansive forests where rich and diverse ecosystems thrive. The South Island is where Pounamu is found and we learn how this beautiful green jade stone plays an important role in historical and contemporary Maori culture.
We cross from the West to the East Coast and see from the air, compelling evidence illustrating how New Zealand is being shaped and formed by tectonic plate movement. On the East coast, the abundant marine life including sperm whales, feeds in the rich waters of the Pacific while fur- ther south, in the province of Canterbury, we see the garden city of Christchurch that was severely damaged by earthquakes.
From Christchurch, we fly back to the West Coast and travel North to Tasman Bay, overlooked by majestic mountains, flat open country, rivers, and bays that can only be reached by boat. Our journey ends at Farewell Spit, a long narrow sandspit pointing north and fringing the stormy Cook Strait.