The third phase of Apple's global rollout of the much-hyped iPad was launched in New Zealand Friday with fans of the brand expressing frustration at the extreme secrecy surrounding the release.

Apple's refusal to announce in advance where its multimedia tablet would be sold in New Zealand meant only the most fanatical of buyers was prepared to queue.

A 20-year-old man set up camp outside an Auckland store on Wednesday hoping to be the first purchaser of a new iPad in New Zealand but most buyers made their way to the shops shortly before opening time on Friday.

Only about 25 people waited outside the popular Dick Smith store in downtown Wellington, where PR consultant Michael Tull told the Stuff website that lining up for a new gadget was a rite of passage for technology fans.

But he said there was "a level of arrogance" about the iPad launch.

"Apple produce good products but one wonders if they need to contrive quite so much hype," he said.

Software sales specialist Lawrence Russell said he and his 17-year-old son had queued at different shops to make sure they had covered all bases.

He said his son was caught up in the "fun and adrenalin" of queueing for an iPad but he was less enthusiastic: "I'm 47 and thinking it isn't so much fun anymore."

The iPad allows users to watch video, listen to music, play games, surf the Web or read electronic books.

Apple said software developers have also created more than 11,000 applications for the iPad, which runs most of the more than 225,000 mini-programmes developed for the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

Prices in New Zealand start at 799 New Zealand dollars (571 US) for a 16GB wifi model through to 1,349 for the top-of-the-line 3G version.

The third stage of the global release also includes Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands and Singapore.

It first went on sale in the United States on April 3 before being released nearly two months later in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.

Although the iPad was officially launched in New Zealand Friday it has been available on a local on-line auction since shortly after its US release, with recent sales fetching up to 1,940 dollars

Apple announced earlier this week it had sold 3.27 million iPads in the first three months.