Aim Determine the phylogeny and dispersal patterns of the cicada genus Kikihia in New Zealand and the origin of the Norfolk, Kermadec, and Chatham Island cicadas. Location New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Kermadec Islands and Chatham Island. Methods DNA sequences from 16 species and four soon to be described species of cicadas from New Zealand and Norfolk Island (Australia) were examined. A total of 1401 base pairs were analysed from whole genome extraction of three mitochondrial genes (cytochrome oxidase subunit II, ATPase6 and ATPase8). These DNA sequences were aligned and analysed using standard likelihood approaches to phylogenetic analysis. Dates of divergences between clades were determined using a molecular clock based on Bayesian statistics. Results Most species in the genus Kikihia diverged between 3 and 5 million years ago (Ma) coincident with a period of rapid mountain building in New Zealand. Cicada species on the Kermadec and Norfolk Islands invaded recently from New Zealand and are closely related to the New Zealand North Island species Kikihia cutora. Main conclusions Speciation in the genus Kikihia was likely due in large part to the appearance of new habitats associated with the rise of the Southern Alps, starting c. 5 Ma. Dispersal of Kikihia species within mainland New Zealand probably occurred gradually rather than through long-distance jumps. However, invasion of Norfolk, the Kermadecs and Chatham Islands had to have occurred through long-distance dispersal.