North Island of New Zealand
The grasslands and forests covering the North Island of New Zealand contrast with the waters of the South Pacific in this Envisat Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) image.
About 80% of the 3.9 million population of New Zealand live in urban areas; towards the bottom of the northwest peninsula called Northland, the linked cities of Auckland and Manukau can be seen as brown shades adjacent to the Hauraki Gulf.
Much of the island is grassland, seen in lighter green. The darker green signify forested zones. To the east of the island is Urewera National Park, protecting the largest remaining native forest on the North Island.
In the centre of the island is Tongariro National Park is New Zealand's oldest, is more mountainous with three volcanoes rising high above the surrounding landscape: Mounts Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. The latter is North Island's highest peak at 2797 metres, while Ngauruhoe stood in for Mount Doom in the film trilogy Lord of the Rings.
At the northern boundary of the park is the circular Lake Taupo – New Zealand's largest body of water, formed from crater of a huge volcano. A prominent circular feature in the southwestern part of the island is the forested flanks of the dormant volcano Mount Taranaki situated in Egmont National Park.
Around the island the lighter blue in the sea shows how the currents are transporting sediment. The greener area within the Bay of Plenty on the northern coast is also likely to be a response to the much shallower water in this area.
This 29 March 2004 300-metre resolution image was acquired by MERIS in full resolution mode.