The idea of a large continental crust called 'Zealandia', which New Zealand sits on, has been explored in a recent science report.
"The identification of Zealandia as a geological continent, rather than a collection of continental islands, fragments and slices more correctly represents the geology of this part of the earth," states the Zealandia: Earth's Hidden Continent report.
The investigation into the concept of Zealandia had input from GNS Science and was published in GSA Today, the journal of the Geological Society of America.
According to the report, the edges of the Australia and Zealandia continental crust come as close as 25km to each other across the Cato Trough, situated off the coast of Queensland.
It covers an area of 4.9 million kms, with 94 per cent of the crust submerged underwater, mainly due to widespread Late Cretaceous thinning.
Due to its large size and isolation from Australia, it supports the definition of a continent.
"This is not a sudden discovery but a gradual realization; as recently as 10 years ago we would not have had the accumulated data or confidence in interpretation to write this paper," the authors wrote.
"However, it is still not well known to the broad international science community."
The purpose of the paper was to put the scientific case of Zealandia forward and to explain why its identification is important.
Zealandia's continental crust has a thickness ranging from 10-30km, with 40km under parts of the South Island.
Compared to other continental fragments, Zealandia is twelve times bigger than Mauritia and six times bigger than Madagascar.