At just 28 Catton is also one the youngest authors ever to be nominated for the prize.
Her novel The Luminaries sees 12 men from a New Zealand prospecting town come together in a pub to discuss mysterious events in the area.
Other famous names gracing this year’s list include literary veterans Jim Crace and Colm Toibin.
Crace, 67, announced that his novel shortlisted novel Harvest would be his last.
Candian-American Zen Buddist priest Ruth Ozeki, Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri and Zimbabwean novelist NoViolet Bulawayo are also nominated.
Catton is favourite with the bookmakers behind Crace and Toibin, with Bulawayo
Robert Macfarlane, chair of the judges, said the shortlist was “instantly striking” because of its “global range”.
“It shows the English language novel to be a form of world literature,” he added.
The list is made up of four women and two men – all of them of different nationalities.
“This is a shortlist that crosses continents, that joins countries and that spans centuries,” Macfarlane added. “These novels are all about the strange ways in which people are brought together and the painful ways in which they are held apart.
Catton’s epic 832 page novel would be the longest ever the scoop the award, and would make her its youngest ever recipient.
Man Booker shortlist 2013
NoViolet Bulawayo – We Need New Names (Chatto & Windus)
Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries (Granta)
Jim Crace – Harvest (Picador)
Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland (Bloomsbury)
Ruth Ozeki – A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate)
Colm Toibin – The Testament of Mary (Viking)