The Tasman Sea is a marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean, situated between Australia and New Zealand. It measures about 2,000 kilometres across and about 2,800 kilometres from north to south. The sea was named after the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman, who was the first recorded European to encounter New Zealand and Tasmania. The British explorer Captain James Cook later extensively navigated the Tasman Sea in the 1770s as part of his first voyage of exploration.
The Tasman Sea is informally referred to in both Australian and New Zealand English as The Ditch; for example, crossing the Ditch means travelling to Australia from New Zealand, or vice versa. The diminutive term "The Ditch" used for the Tasman Sea is comparable to referring to the North Atlantic Ocean as "The Pond".
The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Tasman Sea as follows:
On the West: A line from Gabo Island (near Cape Howe, 37°30'S) to the Northeast point of East Sister Island (148°E) thence along the 148th meridian to Flinders Island; beyond this Island a line running to the Eastward of the Vansittart Shoals to [Cape] Barren Island, and from Cape Barren (the Easternmost point of [Cape] Barren Island) to Eddystone Point (41°S) in Tasmania, thence along the East coast to South East Cape, the Southern point of Tasmania.
On the North: The parallel of 30°S from the Australian coast Eastward as far as a line joining the East extremities of Elizabeth Reef and South East Rock (31°47′S 159°18′E) then to the Southward along this line to the South East Rock (an outlier of Lord Howe Island).
On the Northeast. From the South East Rock to the North point of Three Kings Islands (34°10′S 172°10′E) thence to North Cape in New Zealand.
On the East: In Cook Strait. A line joining the South extreme of the foul ground off Cape Palliser (Ngawi) and the Lighthouse on Cape Campbell (Te Karaka). In Foveaux Strait (46°45'S). A line joining the Light on Waipapapa Point [sic] (168°33'E) with East Head (47'02'S) of Stewart Island (Rakiura).
On the Southeast: A line running from South West Cape, Stewart Island, through The Snares (48°S, 166°30'E) to North West Cape, Auckland Island (50°30′S 166°10′E), through this island to its Southern point.
On the South. A line joining the Southern point of Auckland Island (50°55′S 166°0′E) to South East Cape, the Southern point of Tasmania.
The Tasman Sea features a number of mid-sea island groups, quite apart from coastal islands located near the Australian and New Zealand mainlands:
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