More than 1.1 million people tuned in to watch the first episode of the new season of MasterChef New Zealand on Sunday night, TVNZ says.

The show attracted some 36 per cent of the available audience.

"With 16 more episodes to go, we're confident there will be no stopping the country's number one cooking juggernaut," said TV One and TV2 head Jeff Latch.

More than 1000 people applied to audition for the MasterChef judges and a chance to win the competition.