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The New Zealand-Australia Rivalry: What You Need to Know

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Is There Really a Rivalry Between New Zealand and Australia?

Well, kind of. The rivalry between the two nations separated by the Tasman Sea is often described as a “sibling rivalry”, where sure, New Zealand and Australia are the butts of each other’s jokes, but they’ll have each other’s backs if they need it. The New Zealand-Australia relations, otherwise known as the Trans-Tasmanrelations, is a feature that often fascinates travellers to the Southern Hemisphere, so we’ll go through where some of the rivalries lie in this guide the New Zealand-Australia rivalry.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in Where is New Zealand? and 10 Things You Did Not Know About New Zealand.

5 Things You Should Never Say to a Kiwi About Australia

  • Australia invented the pavlova
  • New Zealand is a state of Australia
  • New Zealander’s pronounce “Fish and Chips” and “Fish un Chups”
  • Which part of Australia are you from?
  • Does the Sydney Harbour Bridge lead straight to Auckland?
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New Zealand-Australia Sporting Rivalries

Like most countries or cities that are neighbours, the deepest rivalries comes out of sports. Iconic moments from Australia Vs. New Zealand can be found in the sports of cricket, netball, rugby union, rugby league, football (soccer) and more. So if you’re looking for a game to watch in New Zealand with the most buzzing atmosphere, make it an Australia Vs. New Zealand game!

Historic Sporting Moments in the NZ-OZ Rivalry

An example of tense moments in New Zealand and Australian sporting history include when an underarm throw from Australia in a 1981 cricket game was considered unfair game by New Zealand when New Zealand only needed six to tie the scores.

Another rivalry lies in netball. Both the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Black Ferns have a long history of dominating the sport of netball, with many games between the two nations ending up “bloody”. In 2003, the Australian coach was quoted calling the Kiwi team a “bunch of scrubbers”.

Biggest NZ-OZ Rivalries in Sports

  • Cricket – Australia has always dominated the Cricket World Cup, where Australia is known to have gloated when New Zealand has lost a game.
  • Rugby Union – The BledisloeCup is an example of the trans-Tasman dominance in the sport of rugby union making a friendly but intense rivalry between the two nations
  • Rugby League – Rugby League is much more popular in Australian than it is in New Zealand, but the ANZAC Test is always a fierce moment in Trans-Tasman sports.

See where you can watch a game for yourself in The Best Places to Watch Rugby in New Zealand. Plus, learn more about rugby in Rugby in New Zealand.

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Other New Zealand-Australia Rivalries

The Kiwi-Aussie rivalry is often described as a “sibling rivalry” and that’s mainly due to the two countries essentially teasing each other. There will often be stereotyping, for example, Australians see New Zealand as “behind the times”, while New Zealanders stereotype Aussies to be rude. Both countries make jokes about the other having relations with sheep…

Who Invented the Pavlova?!

Aside from being the butt of each other’s jokes, there are small rivalries when it comes to some inventions, like the much-loved Tasman dessert of pavlova. This meringue with fruit and cream dessert is claimed to be invented by both countries which was named after Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who visited both Australia and New Zealand. A display in the Kiwi town of Otorohanga gives a lengthy explanation as to why pavlova was actually invented in New Zealand.

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Positive New Zealand-Australia Relations

With every sibling rivalry comes a little bit of positivity and that’s certainly the case with New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand and Australia have a close history when it comes to the military. In World War One and World War Two, the two nations formed to make the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs). Each year, the soldiers are remembered from both countries on a national day, ANZAC Day.

New Zealand and Australia also have come together for Antarctic exploration during the Australasian Antarctic Expedition from 1911 to 1914. Plus, New Zealand and Australia have relaxed laws when it comes to migration, travelling and working for New Zealand and Australian citizens.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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