John Kerry hopes Donald Trump will be up to the role of president

US Secretary of State John Kerry (AAP)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (AAP)

US Secretary of State John Kerry has congratulated Donald Trump on his presidential election, saying that he hopes the businessman will be up to the task ahead of him.

"I want to offer my congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump and wish him well for the American people, for him, for his family," he said in Christchurch on Thursday.

Mr Kerry said he hopes Mr Trump will meet the challenges of the presidency "with the same spirit... that characterises every presidency, Republican or Democrat: to protect the interests of our people and uphold the values of our country".

He also commiserated with the unsuccessful Democratic nominee.

"I want to express my appreciation and respect to my former colleague, friend, and former secretary Hillary Clinton," he added.

"I know how hard she fought. I know what it takes out of the family, I've been there, done that.

"I greatly appreciate her gracious comments today. I'm confident she and the President will continue to contribute in many ways."

Mr Kerry said a successful leadership transition is important for the United States and the world.

"With a transition like this, the issues that we face don't go away," he said.

"We have a time-honoured tradition of a very peaceful and constructive transfer of power within administrations."

The Secretary of State is currently in New Zealand ahead of a planned trip to Antarctica.

Donald Trump will be sworn in as US president on January 20.