Our aim was to describe the epidemiology and incidence of community-onset invasive S. aureus disease in children presenting to our hospital, and to compare the clonal complexes and virulence genes of S. aureus strains causing invasive and non-invasive disease. The virulence gene repertoire of invasive disease isolates was characterized using DNA microarray and compared with the virulence gene repertoire of non-invasive S. aureus isolates. Over the study period, 163 children had an invasive S. aureus infection. There was no difference in the distribution of clonal complexes or in the prevalence of genes encoding virulence factors between invasive and non-invasive isolates. Future research should include a strong focus on identifying the host and environmental factors that, along with organism virulence factors, are contributing to the patterns of invasive S. aureus disease observed in New Zealand.