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Polynesian settlers may have arrived in New Zealand in the late 1200s, with widespread settlement in the mid-1300s. They called the land Aotearoa, which legend holds is the name of the canoe that Kupe, the first Polynesian in New Zealand, used to sail to the country; the name Aotearoa is now in widespread use as the local Maori name for the country. Competition for land and resources led to intermittent fighting between different Maori iwi (tribes) by the 1500s as large game became extinct. Dutch explorer Abel TASMAN was the first European to see the islands in 1642 but after an encounter with local Maori, he sailed away. British captain James COOK was the next European to arrive in New Zealand in 1769, followed by whalers, sealers, and traders. The UK only nominally claimed New Zealand and included it as part of New South Wales in Australia. Concerns about increasing lawlessness led the UK to appoint its first British Resident in New Zealand in 1832, although he had few legal powers. In 1835, some Maori iwi from the North Island declared independence as the United Tribes of New Zealand. Fearing an impending French settlement and takeover, they asked the British for protection. In 1840, the British negotiated their protection in the Treaty of Waitangi, which was eventually signed by more than 500 different Maori chiefs, although many chiefs did not or were not asked to sign. In the English-language version of the treaty, the British thought the Maori ceded their land to the UK, but translations of the treaty appeared to give the British less authority, and land tenure issues stemming from the treaty are still present and being actively negotiated in New Zealand.

The UK declared New Zealand a separate colony in 1841 and gave it limited self-government in 1852. Different traditions of authority and land use led to a series of wars from the 1840s to the 1870s fought between Europeans and various Maori iwi. Along with disease, these conflicts halved the Maori population. In the 1890s, New Zealand initially expressed interest in joining independence talks with Australia but ultimately opted against it and changed its status to an independent dominion in 1907. New Zealand provided more than 100,000 troops during each World War, many of whom fought as part of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). New Zealand reaffirmed its independence in 1947, signed the Australia, New Zealand, and US (ANZUS) Treaty, and militarily supported the US in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Beginning in 1984, New Zealand began to adopt nuclear-free policies, contributing to a dispute with the US over naval ship visits that led the US to suspend its defense obligations to New Zealand in 1986.

In recent years, New Zealand has explored reducing some of its ties to the UK. There in an active, minority movement about changing New Zealand to a republic, and in 2015-16, a referendum on changing the New Zealand flag to remove the Union Jack failed 57% to 43%.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia

Geographic coordinates

41 00 S, 174 00 E


total: 268,838 sq km

land: 264,537 sq km

water: 4,301 sq km

note: includes Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands

country comparison to the world: 77

Area - comparative

almost twice the size of North Carolina; about the size of Colorado

<p>almost twice the size of North Carolina; about the size of Colorado</p>

Land boundaries

total: 0 km


15,134 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


temperate with sharp regional contrasts


predominately mountainous with large coastal plains


highest point: Aoraki/Mount Cook 3,724 m; note - the mountain's height was 3,764 m until 14 December 1991 when it lost about 10 m in an avalanche of rock and ice; erosion of the ice cap since then has brought the height down another 30 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 388 m

Natural resources

natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone

Land use

agricultural land: 43.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 41.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 31.4% (2018 est.)

other: 25.4% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

7,210 sq km (2012)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Fresh water lake(s): Lake Taupo - 610 sq km

Population distribution

over three-quarters of New Zealanders, including the indigenous Maori, live on the North Island, primarily in urban areas

Natural hazards

earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity

volcanism: significant volcanism on North Island; Ruapehu (2,797 m), which last erupted in 2007, has a history of large eruptions in the past century; Taranaki has the potential to produce dangerous avalanches and lahars; other historically active volcanoes include Okataina, Raoul Island, Tongariro, and White Island; see note 2 under "Geography - note"

Geography - note

note 1: consists of two main islands and a number of smaller islands; South Island, the larger main island, is the 12th largest island in the world and is divided along its length by the Southern Alps; North Island is the 14th largest island in the world and is not as mountainous, but it is marked by volcanism

note 2: New Zealand lies along the Ring of Fire, a belt of active volcanoes and earthquake epicenters bordering the Pacific Ocean; up to 90% of the world's earthquakes and some 75% of the world's volcanoes occur within the Ring of Fire

note 3: almost 90% of the population lives in cities and over three-quarters on North Island; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world

People and Society


noun: New Zealander(s)

adjective: New Zealand

Ethnic groups

European 64.1%, Maori 16.5%, Chinese 4.9%, Indian 4.7%, Samoan 3.9%, Tongan 1.8%, Cook Islands Maori 1.7%, English 1.5%, Filipino 1.5%, New Zealander 1%, other 13.7% (2018 est.)

note: based on the 2018 census of the usually resident population; percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were able to identify more than one ethnic group


English (de facto official) 95.4%, Maori (de jure official) 4%, Samoan 2.2%, Northern Chinese 2%, Hindi 1.5%, French 1.2%, Yue 1.1%, New Zealand Sign Language (de jure official) 0.5%, other or not stated 17.2% (2018 est.)

note: shares sum to 124.1% due to multiple responses on the 2018 census


Christian 37.3% (Catholic 10.1%, Anglican 6.8%, Presbyterian and Congregational 5.2%, Pentecostal 1.8%, Methodist 1.6%, Church of Jesus Christ 1.2%, other 10.7%), Hindu 2.7%, Maori 1.3%, Muslim, 1.3%, Buddhist 1.1%, other religion 1.6% (includes Judaism, Spiritualism and New Age religions, Baha'i, Asian religions other than Buddhism), no religion 48.6%, objected to answering 6.7% (2018 est.)

note: based on the 2018 census of the usually resident population; percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were able to identify more than one religion

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.63% (male 496,802/female 469,853)

15-24 years: 12.92% (male 328,327/female 308,132)

25-54 years: 39.98% (male 996,857/female 972,566)

55-64 years: 11.93% (male 285,989/female 301,692)

65 years and over: 15.54% (male 358,228/female 407,031) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for New Zealand. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.8

youth dependency ratio: 30.3

elderly dependency ratio: 25.5

potential support ratio: 3.9 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 37.2 years

male: 36.4 years

female: 37.9 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 73

Birth rate

12.83 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 143

Death rate

6.91 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 122

Net migration rate

6.89 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

Population distribution

over three-quarters of New Zealanders, including the indigenous Maori, live on the North Island, primarily in urban areas


urban population: 86.8% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.92% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.630 million Auckland, 417,000 WELLINGTON (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

27.8 years (2009 est.)

note: median age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

9 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.5 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 3.69 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 3.29 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 199

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 82.33 years

male: 80.57 years

female: 84.19 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 23

Contraceptive prevalence rate

79.9% (2014/15)

note: percent of women aged 16-49

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

3.59 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

2.6 beds/1,000 population (2019)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

3,600 (2020 est.)

note: estimate does not include children

country comparison to the world: 129

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<100 (2020 est.)

note: estimate does not include children

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 20 years

male: 20 years

female: 21 years (2019)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 12.4%

male: 12.2%

female: 12.6% (2020 est.)


Environment - current issues

water quality and availability; rapid urbanisation; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation; native flora and fauna hard-hit by invasive species; negative effects of climate change

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protection, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Antarctic Seals, Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 5.73 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 34.38 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 34.3 megatons (2020 est.)


temperate with sharp regional contrasts

Land use

agricultural land: 43.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 41.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 31.4% (2018 est.)

other: 25.4% (2018 est.)


urban population: 86.8% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.92% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0.03% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 37

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 3.405 million tons (2016 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Fresh water lake(s): Lake Taupo - 610 sq km

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 810 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 1.184 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 3.207 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

327 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: New Zealand

abbreviation: NZ

etymology: Dutch explorer Abel TASMAN was the first European to reach New Zealand in 1642; he named it Staten Landt, but Dutch cartographers renamed it Nova Zeelandia in 1645 after the Dutch province of Zeeland; British explorer Captain James COOK subsequently anglicized the name to New Zealand when he mapped the islands in 1769

Government type

parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm


name: Wellington

geographic coordinates: 41 18 S, 174 47 E

time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in September; ends first Sunday in April

time zone note: New Zealand has two time zones: New Zealand standard time (UTC+12) and Chatham Islands time (45 minutes in advance of New Zealand standard time; UTC+12:45)

etymology: named in 1840 after Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and victorious general at the Battle of Waterloo

Administrative divisions

16 regions and 1 territory*; Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Chatham Islands*, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui, Marlborough, Nelson, Northland, Otago, Southland, Taranaki, Tasman, Waikato, Wellington, West Coast

Dependent areas

Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau


26 September 1907 (from the UK)

National holiday

Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840); Anzac Day (commemorated as the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)


history: New Zealand has no single constitution document; the Constitution Act 1986, effective 1 January 1987, includes only part of the uncodified constitution; others include a collection of statutes or "acts of Parliament," the Treaty of Waitangi, Orders in Council, letters patent, court decisions, and unwritten conventions

amendments: proposed as bill by Parliament or by referendum called either by the government or by citizens; passage of a bill as an act normally requires two separate readings with committee reviews in between to make changes and corrections, a third reading approved by the House of Representatives membership or by the majority of votes in a referendum, and assent of the governor-general; passage of amendments to reserved constitutional provisions affecting the term of Parliament, electoral districts, and voting restrictions requires approval by 75% of the House membership or the majority of votes in a referendum; amended many times, last in 2020

Legal system

common law system, based on English model, with special legislation and land courts for the Maori

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of New Zealand

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 3 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor-General Dame Cindy KIRO (since 21 October 2021)

head of government: Prime Minister Jacinda ARDERN (since 26 October 2017); Deputy Prime Minister Grant ROBERTSON (since 2 November 2020)

cabinet: Executive Council appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor-general appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor-general; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor-general; note - Prime Minister ARDERN heads up a minority coalition government consisting of the Labor and New Zealand First parties with confidence and supply support from the Green Party

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Representatives - commonly called Parliament (120 seats for 2020-23 term); 72 members directly elected in 65 single-seat constituencies and 7 Maori constituencies by simple majority vote and 48 directly elected by closed party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 3-year terms)

elections: last held on 17 October 2020 (next scheduled for 2023)

election results: percent of vote by party - Labor Party 49.1%, National Party 26.8%, ACT Party 8%, Green Party 6.3%, Maori Party 1%; seats by party - Labor Party 64, National Party 35, Green Party 10, ACT Party 10, Maori Party 1; composition - men 63, women 57, percent of women 47.5%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of 5 justices, including the chief justice); note - the Supreme Court in 2004 replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London) as the final appeals court

judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the governor-general upon the recommendation of the attorney- general; justices appointed until compulsory retirement at age 70

subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; High Court; tribunals and authorities; district courts; specialized courts for issues related to employment, environment, family, Maori lands, youth, military; tribunals

Political parties and leaders

ACT New Zealand [David SEYMOUR]
Green Party [James SHAW]
Mana Movement [Hone HARAWIRA] (formerly Mana Party)
Maori Party [Che WILSON and Kaapua SMITH]
New Zealand First Party or NZ First [Winston PETERS]
New Zealand Labor Party [Jacinda ARDERN]
New Zealand National Party [Judith COLLINS]
United Future New Zealand [Damian LIGHT]

International organization participation

ADB, ANZUS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CD, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club (associate), PCA, PIF, SICA (observer), Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMISS, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Rosemary BANKS (since 11 January 2019)

chancery: 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 328-4800

FAX: [1] (202) 667-5277

email address and website:


consulate(s) general: Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Tom S. UDALL (since 1 December 2021) note - also accredited to Samoa

embassy: 29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington 6011

mailing address: 4370 Auckland Place, Washington DC  20521-4370

telephone: [64] (4) 462-6000

FAX: [64] (4) 499-0490

email address and website:


consulate(s) general: Auckland

Flag description

blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant with four red five-pointed stars edged in white centered in the outer half of the flag; the stars represent the Southern Cross constellation

National symbol(s)

Southern Cross constellation (four, five-pointed stars), kiwi (bird), silver fern; national colors: black, white, red (ochre)

National anthem

name: God Defend New Zealand

lyrics/music: Thomas BRACKEN [English], Thomas Henry SMITH [Maori]/John Joseph WOODS

note: adopted 1940 as national song, adopted 1977 as co-national anthem; New Zealand has two national anthems with equal status; as a commonwealth realm, in addition to "God Defend New Zealand," "God Save the Queen" serves as a national anthem (see United Kingdom); "God Save the Queen" normally played only when a member of the royal family or the governor-general is present; in all other cases, "God Defend New Zealand" is played


Economic overview

Over the past 40 years, the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy, dependent on concessionary British market access, to a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes, but left behind some at the bottom of the ladder and broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector.

Per capita income rose for 10 consecutive years until 2007 in purchasing power parity terms, but fell in 2008-09. Debt-driven consumer spending drove robust growth in the first half of the decade, fueling a large balance of payments deficit that posed a challenge for policymakers. Inflationary pressures caused the central bank to raise its key rate steadily from January 2004 until it was among the highest in the OECD in 2007 and 2008. The higher rate attracted international capital inflows, which strengthened the currency and housing market while aggravating the current account deficit. Rising house prices, especially in Auckland, have become a political issue in recent years, as well as a policy challenge in 2016 and 2017, as the ability to afford housing has declined for many.

Expanding New Zealand’s network of free trade agreements remains a top foreign policy priority. New Zealand was an early promoter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and was the second country to ratify the agreement in May 2017. Following the United States’ withdrawal from the TPP in January 2017, on 10 November 2017 the remaining 11 countries agreed on the core elements of a modified agreement, which they renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In November 2016, New Zealand opened negotiations to upgrade its FTA with China; China is one of New Zealand’s most important trading partners.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$215.6 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$213.5 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$210.07 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 65

Real GDP growth rate

2.22% (2019 est.)

3.22% (2018 est.)

3.8% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 126

Real GDP per capita

$42,400 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$42,900 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$42,900 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 36

GDP (official exchange rate)

$205.202 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.6% (2019 est.)

1.5% (2018 est.)

1.8% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 94

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: AA (2011)

Moody's rating: Aaa (2002)

Standard & Poors rating: AA (2011)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 5.7% (2017 est.)

industry: 21.5% (2017 est.)

services: 72.8% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 57.2% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 18.2% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 23.4% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.3% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 27% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -26.1% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, beef, kiwi fruit, apples, potatoes, mutton, grapes, wheat, barley, green onions/shallots


agriculture, forestry, fishing, logs and wood articles, manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, real estate services, tourism

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 6.6%

industry: 20.7%

services: 72.7% (2017 est.)


revenues: 74.11 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 70.97 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

31.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

33.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 162

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

note: this is the fiscal year for tax purposes

Current account balance

-$6.962 billion (2019 est.)

-$8.742 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 187


$50.43 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)

$57.16 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$57.71 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 57

Exports - partners

China 28%, Australia 14%, United States 9%, Japan 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

dairy products, sheep/goat meats, lumber, beef products, fresh fruits (2019)


$47.86 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)

$57.75 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$58.39 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 62

Imports - partners

China 18%, Australia 15%, United States 9%, Japan 6%, Germany 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

cars, crude petroleum, refined petroleum, delivery trucks, gas turbines (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$20.68 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$17.81 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 58

Debt - external

$190.621 billion (2019 est.)

$192.327 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 41

Exchange rates

New Zealand dollars (NZD) per US dollar -

1.41794 (2020 est.)

1.52334 (2019 est.)

1.45709 (2018 est.)

1.4279 (2014 est.)

1.2039 (2013 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 12.4%

male: 12.2%

female: 12.6% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 124


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1.76 million (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 37.11 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 58

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 6.4 million (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 136.1 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 113

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: excellent domestic and international systems with progress in mobile services; LTE rates some of the fastest in the world; growth in mobile broadband and fiber sectors; roll out of 5G; investment and development of infrastructure enabled network capabilities to propel the digital economy, e-government, and e-commerce across the country; new satellite to improve telecom in the Asia Pacific region; importer of broadcasting equipment and computers from China (2020)

domestic: fixed-line 37 per 100 and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership 135 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 64; landing points for the Southern Cross NEXT, Aqualink, Nelson-Levin, SCCN and Hawaiki submarine cable system providing links to Australia, Fiji, American Samoa, Kiribati, Samo, Tokelau, US and around New Zealand; satellite earth stations - 8 (1 Inmarsat - Pacific Ocean, 7 other) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

state-owned Television New Zealand operates multiple TV networks and state-owned Radio New Zealand operates 3 radio networks and an external shortwave radio service to the South Pacific region; a small number of national commercial TV and radio stations and many regional commercial television and radio stations are available; cable and satellite TV systems are available, as are a range of streaming services (2019)

Internet users

total: 4.55 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 90.81% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 98

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1.647 million (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 33.67 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 63


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 15 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 199

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 17,249,049 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,349,300,000 mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 39

over 3,047 m: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 12

914 to 1,523 m: 23

under 914 m: 1 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 84

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 33

under 914 m: 48 (2013)


331 km condensate, 2500 km gas, 172 km liquid petroleum gas, 288 km oil, 198 km refined products (2018)


total: 4,128 km (2018)

narrow gauge: 4,128 km 1.067-m gauge (506 km electrified) (2018)

country comparison to the world: 46


total: 94,000 km (2017)

paved: 61,600 km (includes 199 km of expressways) (2017)

unpaved: 32,400 km (2017)

country comparison to the world: 53

Merchant marine

total: 115

by type: container ship 1, general cargo 12, oil tanker 4, other 98 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 83

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Auckland, Lyttelton, Manukau Harbor, Marsden Point, Tauranga, Wellington

Military and Security

Military and security forces

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF): New Zealand Army, Royal New Zealand Navy, Royal New Zealand Air Force (2021)

Military expenditures

1.5% of GDP (2020)

1.5% of GDP (2019)

1.3% of GDP (2018)

1.2% of GDP (2017)

1.2% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 86

Military and security service personnel strengths

the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) has about 9,600 active duty troops (4,700 Army; 2,300 Navy; 2,600 Air Force) (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

NZDF is equipped mostly with imported weapons and equipment from Western suppliers; Australia, France, and the US are the leading suppliers since 2010 (2020)

Military deployments

up to 220 Antarctica (summer season only) (2021)

Military service age and obligation

17 years of age for voluntary military service; soldiers cannot be deployed until the age of 18; no conscription (2021)

Military - note

New Zealand has been part of the Australia, New Zealand, and US Security (ANZUS) Treaty since 1951; however, the US suspended its ANZUS security obligations to New Zealand in 1986 after New Zealand implemented a policy barring nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered warships from its ports; the US and New Zealand signed the Wellington Declaration in 2010, which reaffirmed close ties between the two countries, and in 2012 signed the Washington Declaration, which provided a framework for future security cooperation and defense dialogues; in 2016, a US naval ship conducted the first bilateral warship visit to New Zealand since the 1980s

New Zealand has Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status with the US; MNNA is a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation; while MNNA status provides military and economic privileges, it does not entail any security commitments



Terrorist group(s)

Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

asserts a territorial claim in Antarctica (Ross Dependency)

Illicit drugs

significant consumer of amphetamines