Since 1989, when it became legally possible for private higher education to operate in New Zealand, the sector has grown to become a significant part of the country’s higher education system. We explore the private penetration, trace the changes that have occurred in private higher education, and evaluate the sector’s position in New Zealand today. The private sector has had to find a niche for itself in a higher education sector dominated by a mature, well developed public sector. In so doing, New Zealand’s private higher education exhibits differences and similarities with the private higher education internationally. Particular case study attention goes to the New Zealand case as one of private entry into a mature higher education system in an economically advanced country. Additional attention goes to the dissimilarities between the private sector and the more predominant public tertiary education institutions in New Zealand. It becomes apparent that the private sector has characteristics that make it quite different from that of the public sector in New Zealand.