Story: Climate change

New Zealand’s past land area

At the peak of the last glaciation about 20,000 years ago, global temperatures were about 6°C below the current average. Ocean water was locked up in massive ice sheets, so sea levels were 120–130 metres lower than they are today. This extended the land area of New Zealand and many islands were joined. By 12,000 years ago the temperature had warmed and the sea was only about 70 metres below present levels. The North and South islands became separate.

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Source: GNS Science

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How to cite this page:

Brett Mullan, Stacey Mohan, Petra Pearce, Stephen Stuart and Ben Liley, 'Climate change - Past climate', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/map/7543/new-zealands-past-land-area (accessed 28 September 2020)

Story by Brett Mullan, Stacey Mohan, Petra Pearce, Stephen Stuart and Ben Liley, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 20 Jul 2020