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NZ's plate boundary zone

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Almost all of New Zealand is in the deforming plate boundary zone, where reasonably steady deformation is occurring all the time.

Plate boundary zones are the zones of interaction between adjacent plates where they collide, pull apart or slide past each other. These zones may be anything from a few kilometres to a few hundred kilometres wide.

It is the motion between these two plates, and the deformation that occurs in the boundary zone between the plates, that has given rise to much of New Zealand's geology as we see it today. The deformation and squashing caused by the collision of the two great plates has caused mountain ranges to rise throughout the country.

Some mountain ranges are still rising, and the interplay between the tectonic forces pushing the mountains up and gravity trying to pull them down means that landslides are a common occurrence over much of New Zealand.

Deformation is also the fundamental cause of the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that are such important natural features of New Zealand.

View the deformation of New Zealand.

Find out how we measure deformation.