New Zealand vs. Australia: Why Are They So Different

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Australia and New Zealand are frequently assumed to be similar in nature, when the two countries could not be more dissimilar.

People all over the world think of New Zealand and Australia as being similar and close neighbours. However, this is completely incorrect. The only thing the two countries have in common is a similar colonial history, it could be argued. Anyone who visits these countries will notice how different they are.


The stark differences between these countries provide additional reasons to prefer one over the other. One reason to choose New Zealand is that the country’s largest city, Auckland, was named the best city to visit in 2022 by Lonely Planet.

Native People

The indigenous peoples of New Zealand and Australia are diametrically opposed, with no shared history, culture, languages, or beliefs. They have nothing in common. The Australian aborigines are one of the world’s oldest populations, having lived in Australia for approximately 50,000-65,000 years – possibly two, three, or even four times longer than humans have lived in the Americas.

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Oldest: The Australian Aborigines are one of the world’s oldest populations, having lived in Australia for approximately 50,000 to 65,000 years.

The aborigines of Australia are a diverse people with hundreds of languages, many of which have little in common with other groups.

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Diverse: The Australian Aborigines are a diverse group of people.

The Maoris of New Zealand are one of the world’s youngest indigenous populations, having arrived around 700 years ago, following the Viking Age. They are a Polynesian people who have developed their own distinct culture and are more closely related to French Polynesians and native Hawaiians.

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Maoris are one of the world’s youngest indigenous populations.
Time in New Zealand: Approximately 700 Years

These indigenous peoples have had a significant impact on their respective modern countries, art, and cultures, particularly in New Zealand.

The countries are not in close proximity

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When looking at a map, the countries may appear to be close together. But this is due to the size of the Pacific Ocean, which covers one-third of the world’s surface area. They are separated by approximately 2,000 kilometers (1,500 miles). In comparison, London is closer to Russia than New Zealand is to Australia.

Distance: The countries are approximately 2,000 kilometers (1,500 miles) apart. Prior to European contact and following the age of Polynesian expansion, the inhabitants of New Zealand and Australia had no contact.

The Flora and Fauna

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There is no more contrasting comparison in terms of flora and fauna. Australia is well-known for its ancient marsupial mammal lineages (such as kangaroos and koalas) and monotremes (like the platypus). Australia has many mammals and once had a diverse range of megafauna. It is home to large saltwater crocodiles as well as many of the world’s most venomous snakes.

There are no snakes in New Zealand.
Mammals: New Zealand has no native land mammals (except For A Couple of Bat Species)


There were no mammals in New Zealand (apart from three species of small bats and marine life like seals, whales, and dolphins). New Zealand was a bird-ruled land. It had one of the largest birds ever known (the Moa) and the largest eagle known before the arrival of the Maoris (the Haast Eagle). The vast majority of New Zealand’s native birds are unique and found nowhere else on the planet. There are no snakes in New Zealand, either native or introduced.

Climate and Geography

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Australia is the oldest, flattest, driest, and least fertile continent. After splitting off, New Zealand was buried beneath the waves for much of its history, and it is dominated by young mountains, volcanoes, and rolling hills. Australia’s mountains are ancient and worn down, whereas New Zealand’s Southern Alps are young and jagged.

Australia is a country with a diverse range of landscapes and climates. It ranges from tropical rainforests to vast deserts, including one of the oldest rainforests in the world, the Daintree Rainforest.

Climate: Australia has a diverse climate.

Climate in Australia ranges from tropical rain forests to deserts.

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While the scenery in New Zealand is varied, it lacks the sheer variety of Australia.

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

Australia’s forests are dominated by eucalyptus trees (also known as gum trees), though other types of forests exist. The forests of New Zealand are completely different.

There are numerous other differences, such as Australia’s federal government. However, if you plan to visit this part of the world, make time to visit two very distinct countries on their own.

The Highlight


Although one might think otherwise about Australia and New Zealand, the accents of their people are worlds apart. Australians, for example, tend to shorten their words and draw out vowels.

New Zealanders enjoy playing with vowels as well. However, the Kiwi and Aussie accents are distinct, and each is specific to the country’s population.

The Natural Environment


While Australia has many dangerous animals, such as deadly snakes, critters, and spiders, this is not the case in New Zealand, where people enjoy running in nature without fear or concern. This is because, after Australia and New Zealand separated geographically 85 million years ago, the animals in New Zealand did not evolve in the same way as those in Australia.

While the latter is famous for its kangaroos, koalas, emus, snakes, crocodiles, and wombats, it also has a plethora of small marsupials, echidnas, platypus, rosellas, cockatoos, and lorikeets. The kiwi, on the other hand, is New Zealand’s most famous native animal. There are also morepork owls, little blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins, kea, tui, dolphins, and fur seals in the country.

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