This clip shows a model of progressive tectonic plates moving.
The concept of plate tectonics revolutionised the study of geology in the 1960s and 1970s, and helped to explain many features of New Zealand in a global setting. It is now known that the boundary between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates runs through New Zealand. The Pacific plate is moving relative to the Australian plate at a rate of about 40 millimetres per year – about the rate that fingernails grow. Over millions of years pressure from the colliding plates has caused uplift of the mountains and the separation of rocks on opposite sides of the Alpine Fault by almost 500 kilometres.
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