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At the end of this period a new rift valley formed between Australia and Antarctica and the sea floor spreading still continues. The Kaikoura Orogeny, Miocene to Quaternary period (24 million years ago to modern) Due to the new spreading ridge between Antarctica and Australia there was a build up of strain in the southwest Pacific crust that led to vertical and transcurrent fault movements.

This resulted in uplift of central Westland and produced the majestic range of the Southern Alps, with its steep, straight western front the Alpine Fault.

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Some seafloor was caught in the folding and later exposed when the orogeny had finished and erosional forces had levelled the mountains.

To the south of the South Island, the situation is reversed.

The zones in New Zealand are defined by trenches in the north and in the south and by the Alpine Fault which connects the two.

Between 23 and 10 million years ago the western side of the Alpine Fault was moving northeast relative to the eastern side at a rate of between 1-10 cm per year.

This has resulted in about 450 km of displacement along the Alpine Fault.

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