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New Zealand is an industrialised English-speaking democracy in the South Pacific Ocean southeast of Australia. New Zealand has a population of 4,107,400 (September 2005 estimate).

Legal status

  • Sex between people over the age of 16 is legal in New Zealand, regardless of gender.
  • It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace, and in the provision of goods and services (with some minor exceptions)
  • Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can enter into a civil union — functionally identical to a marriage
  • Same-sex couples can get married (2013)


In practice New Zealand is a largely secular society, although at the 2001 Census 59% of people said that they were Christian and 4% said they were affiliated with another religion. A further 7% of people objected to answering the religion question. The remaining 30% said they were not religious.

The largest gay and lesbian communities are in Auckland and Wellington. Many gay and lesbian people move from the regions to these centres to escape prejudice or become part of a bigger community. Christchurch has a similar role in the South Island, although it has a reputation as a more conservative city, so many South Islanders move north to Wellington or Auckland.

Despite the pooling in the big cities there are established gay and lesbian communities in many cities and towns across the country.

The great O.E.

New Zealand has a ritual of the "great O.E." (overseas experience) — young New Zealanders travel overseas for an extended working holiday. Gays and lesbians are no exception. The most popular destinations are London, Sydney or Melbourne. Melbourne is more popular than Sydney among Wellingtonians as it has a reputation for being similar to Wellington, having a large arts/culture scene and a relatively compact central city. For parallel reasons, Aucklanders seem to prefer Syndey as a destination.