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Map of the Tasman Sea
Satellite photo of the Tasman Sea

The Tasman Sea is the large body of water between Australia and New Zealand, approximately 2000 kilometres (1250 miles) across. It extends 2800 km (approx.) from north to south. It is a south-western segment of the South Pacific Ocean. The sea was named after the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman, the first recorded European to encounter New Zealand and Tasmania. The British explorer Captain James Cook later extensively navigated the Tasman Sea in the 1770s as part of his first voyage of exploration.

The Tasman Sea is nicknamed The Ditch, eg crossing the ditch means going to Australia from New Zealand or vice versa.





The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Tasman Sea as follows:[1]

On the West. A line from Gabo Island (near Cape Howe, 37°30'S) to the Northeast point of East Sister Island (148°E) thence along the 148th meridian to Flinders Island; beyond this Island a line running to the Eastward of the Vansittart Shoals to [Cape] Barren Island, and from Cape Barren (the Easternmost point of [Cape] Barren Island) to Eddystone Point (41°S) in Tasmania, thence along the East coast to South East Cape, the Southern point of Tasmania.

On the North. The parallel of 30°S from the Australian coast Eastward as far as a line joining the East extremities of Elizabeth Reef and South East Rock (31°47′S 159°18′E / 31.783°S 159.3°E / -31.783; 159.3) then to the Southward along this line to the South East Rock.

On the Northeast. From the South East Rock to the North point of Three Kings Islands (34°10′S 172°10′E / 34.167°S 172.167°E / -34.167; 172.167) thence to North Cape in New Zealand.

On the East.

On the Southeast. A line running from South West Cape, Stewart Island, through The Snares (48°S, 166°30'E) to North West Cape, Auckland Island (50°30′S 166°10′E / 50.5°S 166.167°E / -50.5; 166.167), through this island to its Southern point.

On the South. A line joining the Southern point of Auckland Island (50°55′S 166°0′E / 50.917°S 166°E / -50.917; 166) to South East Cape, the Southern point of Tasmania.


Smoke from the Black Saturday bushfires crosses the southern Tasman Sea

The Tasman Sea's mid-ocean ridge developed between 85 and 55 million years ago as Australia and Zealandia broke apart during the breakup of supercontinent Gondwana. It lies roughly midway between the continental margins of Australia and Zealandia, so it runs much closer to the Australian coast than New Zealand's.


The Tasman Sea features a number of mid-sea island groups, quite apart from coastal islands located near the Australian and New Zealand mainlands:

See also


  1. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 

Coordinates: 37°17′46″S 160°31′30″E / 37.29611°S 160.525°E / -37.29611; 160.525

Simple English

The Tasman Sea is the sea between Australia and New Zealand. It was named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. It is about 2000 kilometres (1250 miles) across, and 2800 km from north to south. The sea is part of the south Pacific Ocean. It is sometimes called The Ditch by Australians and New Zealanders.


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