An aerospace hub for Aotearoa New Zealand, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is home to major space-related businesses and to Te Pūnaha Ātea Space Institute at the University of Auckland.

With its clear skies and wide range of launch angles, Aotearoa is uniquely advantaged as a launch site for commercial low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite missions. Technological advances have helped cut LEO costs by a factor of 20 over the past decade, and high consumer demand for satellite data drives unprecedented competition within the aerospace ecosystem.

In this democratised ‘new space’ race, fuelled largely by private entrepreneurship, aerospace in Auckland and New Zealand covers a wide breadth of space and aviation activities, including space launches, satellite development, transport, advanced design and manufacturing, engineering services, data-driven applications, technical consulting and professional services.

Why Auckland?

New Zealand’s aerospace ecosystem is more than just rockets: it is characterised by a mix of startup and well-established, small and large, privately funded space companies which service both government and non-government customers.

The New Zealand Space Agency, set up in 2016 through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), provides regulatory oversight, policy-making and sector development. In a 2019 Deloitte report, the national aerospace sector was valued at over NZ$1.6 billion, supporting some 5000 full-time equivalent jobs directly, plus another 7000 indirectly. 


Diverse subsectors

The aerospace economy in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland includes six subsectors:

  • Space manufacturing (design and manufacture of launch vehicles and other equipment)

  • Space operations (launch and/or operation of spacecraft and/or satellites)

  • Space applications (using satellite signals and data – e.g., GPS)

  • Ancillary services (insurance, financial, legal, software, etc.)

  • Research and development (which may be commercial or academic)

  • Government.

Rapid growth in aerospace has facilitated such upstream subsectors as advanced manufacturing and materials. For example, additive manufacturing companies such as Zenith Tecnica and Ram3D supply aerospace clients in New Zealand and overseas.


Playing to our strengths

There are two main aerospace business clusters, in Christchurch and Auckland. Auckland is strong in space manufacturing and space applications, including testing of space-related vehicles and products, and systems that use aerospace technology, such as sustainable fuel alternatives.

Auckland startups like Zenno Astronautics and Argo Navis are developing breakthrough technologies for rockets and satellites. The Space Institute at the University of Auckland has satellite fabrication, assembly and test facilities, and operates its own mission control centre. The institute offers a master of aerospace engineering degree, while the University of Canterbury in Christchurch offers an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering.


Backed by investment

Aerospace startups are among the priority investments of many venture funds, such as Nuance and Outset Ventures. Among others, Auckland is home to: Rocket Lab (supported by diverse funders, including Mark Rocket, K1W1, the New Zealand government and Khosla Ventures); spacecraft attitude control developer Zenno Astronautics, who came out of the university of Auckland’s Velocity Programme and recently raised a $10+ million investment round led by Nuance and GD1; deep tech incubator Outset Ventures; and Astrix Astronautics, whose three co-founders first tested their solar array on board a 2021 Rocket Lab mission, with funding also from Icehouse Ventures and K1W1.

Sector strengths


  • New Zealand is an ideal location for launch missions and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is the country’s largest centre for skills, talent and manufacturing

  • New Zealand’s unique profile as a small nation with space manufacturing and space operations capability

  • Strong links with global space agencies while also drawing on local talent

  • ‘New space’ ecosystem suits a small, open and innovative economy like New Zealand

  • Very young local aerospace industry, with a wealth of development opportunities

  • Close collaboration between R&D institutions and industry

  • Deep tech incubators and venture capital enabling rapid startup and upscaling.

Success story


Rocket Lab was founded in 2006 by self-taught engineer Peter Beck and began launching missions 10 years later. Drawing on advanced technologies such as composites and 3D printing, its particular strength lies in providing quick, customer-focused commercial launches, and to date it has put more than 150 satellites into low earth orbit.  

Though now headquartered in the United States, Rocket Lab retains an R&D facility in Auckland and a launch site on the Mahia Peninsula in Hawke’s Bay. Its continuing presence highlights New Zealand’s unique launch service capability, and Rocket Lab generates business for more than 1500 ancillary/supply firms in New Zealand. Peter Beck mentors other businesses and teaches at the University of Auckland, while Rocket Lab’s outreach programmes foster public engagement with aerospace. 

Contact our investment specialists to learn more about what Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland has to offer and who you can speak to for more information.