Guess what – it turns out New Zealand isn’t a couple of small islands at the bottom of the world. It’s actually a continent, most of which just happens to be under the sea. In fact, 94% of Zealandia is under the sea.
Scientists published a paper in the journal of The Geological Society Of America about their research on Zealandia.
They say Zealandia and Australia come remarkably close to each other across the Cato Trough, off the coast of Queensland. At that point, the continental crusts of the two continents are just 25km apart.
In total, Zealandia covers about 4.9 million sq km.
It would all be revealed “if you pulled the plug on the world’s oceans”, the paper’s principal author Nick Mortimer says.
The Chatham Islands and subantarctic islands are part of Zealandia, but Fiji and Tonga aren’t.
Water depth in the ocean around Zealandia is about 4000 metres deep. The highest point on the continent is Aoraki-Mt Cook.
“This is not a sudden discovery but a gradual realisation,” the authors say.