This Envisat image highlights the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand, which is comprised of two major islands – North and South – and a number of smaller islands. The roughly circular peninsula extending 48 km into the Pacific Ocean on Canterbury’s east coast is Banks Peninsula, which has a total land area of some 1300 sq km and rises as high as 918 m at Herbert Peak.
Two adjacent volcanic cones, which were active less than half a million years ago, created the peninsula. The extinct volcanoes now form the harbours of Akaroa (largest) and Lyttelton. Loess – yellow, wind-blown silt – covers the lower slopes of the peninsula and is transported by the currents, as seen in the image. Lake Ellesmere (seen west of Banks Peninsula), also called Waihora, is a coastal lagoon separated from the sea by a gravel spit, Kaitorete Spit. The brackish lake is home to flounders, eels and various bird species.
Christchurch, the regional capital of Canterbury and the largest city in South Island, is situated just north of Banks Peninsula, between the peninsula and the Canterbury Plains.
This image was acquired by Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument on 28 October 2007, working in Full Resolution mode to provide a spatial resolution of 300 metres.