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AUT, Massey, Waikato, Canterbury and Victoria all rose in the annual ranking of the top 1000 universities.
MIT in the United States was the number one university in the world, followed by Stanford, Harvard, and the United Kingdom's Oxford University.
The University of Auckland remained the highest-ranked New Zealand institution, though it dropped from 85th place to 88th.
The second-highest placed New Zealand university, Otago, moved from 175th to 176th.
Victoria University was ranked at 215th place, Canterbury 227, Waikato 266, Massey 287, and AUT 442.
Lincoln University dropped 39 places to 356th.
The QS Rankings were based on six measures. All eight New Zealand universities got better scores than last year for academic reputation, which was based on a survey of 94,000 academics around the world. Five did better in a survey of employers, but six received lower scores for the ratio of teaching staff to students.
University of Waikato vice-chancellor Neil Quigley said the institution had now improved its standing in six consecutive years and had risen 135 places in the league table since 2014.
Universities New Zealand, which represented the eight universities, said the results showed the university system was strong despite challenges around resourcing.