New Zealand occupies an isolated position in the South Pacific, roughly half way between the equator and the South Pole. It is about as far away from Europe as it is possible to get - a 25 hr flight - and even its nearest neighbor, Australia, is a 3 hr flight to the northwest.With a total land mass of around 270,534 sq.km (the two main islands and a number of smaller ones), New Zealand's area is rather greater than that of the United Kingdom. The North Island (114,597 sq.km) and South Island (151,757 sq.km) extend between 34° and 47°S, with a total distance of 1770km between the most southerly and the most northerly points. The southernmost settlement in New Zealand is on Stewart Island. From west to east New Zealand extends between 166° and 179°E. No point on the two main islands is further than 110km from the sea.The islandsNew Zealand's territory includes a number of smaller islands and island groups at varying distances from the two main islands (North Island and South Island). The largest is Stewart Island to the south, with an area of some 1746 sq.km. Among the furthest away are the Kermadec Islands to the north, Chatham and Bounty Islands to the east and Campbell and Auckland Islands to the south.Other New Zealand island groups are the Tokelau Islands in Polynesia, the Cook Islands and Niue. The Cook Islands and Niue are associated with New Zealand as self-governing territories.Also belonging to New Zealand is the Ross Dependency in Antarctica (area 4.75 million sq.km), an unpopulated territory consisting of the Ross Sea, the Ross Ice Shelf and eastern and northeastern Victoria Land.Down underVisitors to New Zealand soon realize that life in the southern hemisphere differs from life in Europe or North America. When it is winter in the northern hemisphere it is summer in New Zealand; when the days grow longer in Europe and the trees come into leaf it is autumn in New Zealand; and when the leaves begin to fall in the northern countries there is a feeling of spring in New Zealand. During the day the sun reaches its highest point in the north, not in the south, and accordingly the warmer slopes of a hill are on the north side, not the south.