Quick Links

New Zealand and Australia are often thought of by people around the world as being similar countries and close together. But this is completely incorrect. It can be argued that the only thing the two countries have in common is a similar colonial history. Anyone visiting these countries will see just how different they are.

The stark differences between these countries add reasons why one should choose one country over the other. But one reason to pick New Zealand is that the largest city, Auckland, has been voted the best city to visit in 2022 by Lonely Planet.



More Differences Between Australia And New Zealand

Although Australia and New Zealand share many similarities between each other, there are many differences between the two countries that many don't know about. This article was updated to include discussions of accent and wildlife differences between Australia and New Zealand.

The Native Peoples

The native peoples of New Zealand and Australia are completely different, with zero shared history, culture, languages, or beliefs. They are nothing alike. The Australian aborigines are one of the oldest populations in the world and have lived in Australia for around the last 50,000-65,000 years - perhaps two or three or even four times longer than humans have lived in the Americas.

  • Oldest: The Australian Aborigines Are One Of The Oldest Populations In The World
  • Time In Australia: They Have Lived In Australia for Around 50,000 to 65,000 Years

The Australian aborigines are diverse peoples with hundreds of languages, with many having little in common with other groups.

  • Diverse: The Australian Aborigines Are Very Diverse Peoples

The Maoris in New Zealand are one of the youngest indigenous populations in the world, having first populated New Zealand around 700 years ago - after the Viking Age. They are a Polynesian population that has developed their own unique culture and are more closely related to the Tahitians of French Polynesia and the native Hawaiians.

  • Young: The Maoris Are One Of The Newest Indigenous Populations In The World
  • Time In New Zealand: Around 700 Years

These native populations have had a large influence on their respective modern countries, their art, and their cultures - especially in New Zealand.

Related: New Zealand Holiday Guide, The North Island: How To Plan The Perfect Vacation

The Countries Are Not Close

When one looks at a map, it can appear that the countries are close together. But that is because the Pacific Ocean is so huge - the ocean is one-third of the world's surface area. The distance between them is around 2,000 kilometers or 1,500 miles. To put that in context, London is closer to Russia than New Zealand is to Australia.

  • Distance: The Countries Are Around 2,000 km or 1,500 miles From Each Other

Pre-European contact and after the age of Polynesian expansion, the inhabitants of New Zealand and Australia had no contact.

The Fauna and Flora

When it comes to flora and fauna, one can not find a more contrasting comparison. Australia is famous for its ancient lineages of marsupial mammals (like kangaroos and koalas) and monotremes (like the platypus). Australia has many mammals and once had many megafaunas. It has large saltwater crocodiles and, notoriously, many of the world's most venomous snakes.

  • Snakes: There Are No Snakes In New Zealand
  • Mammals: There Are No Native Land Mammals In New Zealand (except For A Couple of Bat Species)

New Zealand had no mammals (apart from three species of small bats and marine life like seals, whales, and dolphins). New Zealand was a land ruled by birds. Before the arrival of the Maoris, it had one of the largest birds ever known (the Moa) and the largest eagle known (the Haast Eagle). The vast majority of native birds in New Zealand are unique and found nowhere else in the world. New Zealand also has no snakes - no native snakes and no introduced snakes.

Related: New Zealand Holiday Guide, The South Island: How To Plan The Perfect Vacation

The Geography and Climate

Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent with the least fertile soils. New Zealand was buried beneath the waves for much of its history after splitting off and is dominated by young mountains, volcanoes, and rolling hills. The mountains in Australia are ancient and worn down while the Southern Alps in New Zealand are young and jagged.

Australia is a megadiverse country with a wide variety of landscapes and climates. It ranges from tropical rainforests - including one of the most ancient rainforests of Daintree Rainforest - to expansive deserts.

  • Climate: Australia's Climate Is Diverse
  • Range: Australia's Climate Ranges From Tropical Rainforests to Desert

While the scenery is diverse in New Zealand, it lacks the sheer diversity of Australia.

In terms of Koppen climate types, Australia has a hot desert, savanna, oceanic, humid subtropical, cold desert, warm-summer Mediterranean, hot-summer Mediterranean, and hot semi-arid. While New Zealand is mostly one categorization - oceanic (that is temperate, no dry season with warm summers).

The forests in Australia are dominated by eucalyptus trees (called gum trees) - although it does have other types of forests as well. New Zealand's forests are completely different.

There are many more differences - like Australia is a federal system. But if planning to visit this part of the world, plan to visit two very unique countries on their own merits.

The Accent

Although one might think otherwise about Australia and New Zealand, the people's accents of each of these countries are worlds apart. For instance, Australians tend to shorten their words and draw out vowels.

Playing with vowels is also a thing for New Zealanders. However, the Kiwi and Aussie accents are both different from each other, and each one is unique to the country's population.

The Wildlife

While Australia is home to many dangerous animals, such as deadly snakes, critters, and spiders, this does not apply to New Zealand, where people enjoy running in nature without any worry or care. This is because, some 85 million years ago, after Australia and New Zealand separated geographically, the animals didn't evolve the same way in New Zealand as in Australia.

While the latter is known for kangaroos, koalas, emu, snakes, crocodiles, and wombat, it also has plenty of tiny marsupials, echidna, platypus, rosellas, cockatoos, and lorikeets. On the other hand, the kiwi is the most famous native animal of New Zealand. The country also has the morepork owl, little blue penguin, yellow-eyed penguin, kea, tui, dolphins, and fur seals.

Next: 20 Beautiful Places In New Zealand Even Foreigners Are Jealous Of