Pangaea Proxima map shows New Zealand will still be an island in 250 million years despite new supercontinent forming

The world is set for major geographical changes, with a map showing a new supercontinent is likely to form over the next 250 million years - but New Zealand could be one of just a handful of countries to remain an island.

Hypothesised by geologist Christopher Scotese in 1982, Pangaea Proxima is a potential future configuration of the Earth's landmasses based on past cycles of continental drift.

It suggests we're moving towards a world in which nearly all the world's territories will be pushed together - almost completely closing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and amalgamating South and North America with Europe and Africa.

Should Scotese's hypothesis become a reality, most of the world's countries will likely merge over the next hundreds of millions of years into a single, arch-shaped landmass.

But maps show even if this happens, New Zealand is likely to be one of just a few island nations to retain their independence from the rest of the world.

One map suggests Aotearoa will be the second-largest island outside of the main Pangaea landmass, with just Chukotka - which is now a far-east region of Russia - bigger after splitting off to sit west of Canada.

A map of Pangaea Proxima.
A map of Pangaea Proxima. Photo credit: Unknown

But New Zealand won't look the same as it does now - in fact, it'll be unrecognisable. The map shows rather than stretching from the north to the south, our orientation in Pangaea Proxima will instead be east to west.

It also appears as though part of Aotearoa - perhaps the South Island, though it's not clear - will move south-west of Australia and merge with Ross Island, Chile and Indonesia.

Maps show our trans-Tasman neighbour Australia will be swept up into the main arch of Pangaea Proxima, where it is likely to share a border with what is now Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Timor.

Australia will be just a few hundred kilometres from China in this scenario, though a new mountain range will separate the two - perhaps for the best if their tetchy relationship continues millions of years into the future.

Among the other changes sees Antarctica shift northwards to merge with Madagascar, Brazil and Uruguay, the creation of a new body of water called the Indian Sea, and a series of new mountain ranges between the newly amalgamated Americas and Africa.

According to maps, the new highest point 250 million years from now won't be Mt Everest - it'll likely be a mountain in the south-east United States, just north of South Africa.

It's important to note Pangaea Proxima is just a theory, and doesn't take into account tectonic changes, which are notoriously difficult to predict.

Paleogeologist Ronald Blakey told The Atlantic that while the next 15-85 million years are simple enough to predict, any projections beyond that timeframe are "very, very speculative".

Several other hypotheses have been put forward for supercontinents - including Amasia, a merging of Asia and North America; Novopangaea, a combination of Australia with East Asia; and Aurica, the collision of Australia and Antarctica with eastern Eurasia.