Earliest map of NZ, Australia sold at auction

The map created by Joan Blaeu (Sotheby's / Supplied)
The map created by Joan Blaeu (Sotheby's / Supplied)

The earliest known map of New Zealand and Australia, dating back more than 350 years, has sold at auction.

Created by Joan Blaeu, the official cartographer of the United Dutch East India Company, the map went under the hammer at Sotheby's London last week. The buyer was willing to part with £248,750 (NZ$467,536) for the piece of history. 

The incomplete map, dated 1659, is even earlier than the 1663 copy held by Australia's National Library. There are only four copies of Blaeu's map known to exist.

It is the first to name modern-day Australia as Nova Hollandia (New Holland) and also the first to label New Zealand as Nova Zeelandia.

The library says it is the illustration on which all subsequent maps were based and refers to it as the "birth certificate" of New Holland.

The map documents the outline of modern Western Australia, the top of Northern Territory and Queensland and Tasmania. It also includes what appears to be the tip of the South Island's Farewell Spit, part of the West Coast and the North Island's east coast, including Taranaki.

The map joins both islands, turning it into one landmass - which was later found to be incorrect.

Parts of Indonesia are also mapped out.