Visitor arrivals reach record 3.67 million as growth slows

Visitor arrivals to New Zealand reached a new annual record of 3.67 million for the year to August, up 9% compared to the previous year.

The increase was driven by arrivals from Australia, up 6% or 86,500 over the year, and the United States, up 21% or 55,200, according to Stats NZ’s travel and migration figures for August.

A new August record of 234,000 visitors arrived during the period, up by 12,800 on the same month last year. The biggest changes were in arrivals from:

  • Australia (up 5,200)
  • China (up 3,100)
  • United States of America (down 2,200)
  • Indonesia (up 1,200)
  • Hong Kong (up 1,100)

“The allure of NZ as a tourism destination shows few signs of dimming, even in a traditionally seasonally‐low time of year,” said Mark Smith, senior economist at ASB.

“The true test of NZ’s ability to host further growth will be the ability of the sector to cater for the anticipated summer boost in numbers in light of the capacity constraints and limited availability of suitable tourism accommodation over that period.”

However, the rate of growth is slowing, said Sharon Zollner, senior economist at ANZ Bank.

“For the better part of 2016, visitor arrivals were growing at a double-digit annual pace, with reasonably broad-based strength,” said Zollner.

“Recent one-off events – the World Masters Games and British & Irish Lions rugby tour – have clouded the picture, but it is clear that the previous pace of growth is no longer being seen. We suspect this reflects capacity issues more than anything, and we are certainly not negative on the sector overall.”

New Zealand residents departed on record number of overseas trips

Kiwis departed on 252,100 trips overseas in August 2017, up 7% from August 2016. Overseas trips to Australia, Fiji, and the United Kingdom saw the biggest changes in August 2017. Two in five trips overseas were to Australia.

New Zealand residents took a record 2.8 million overseas trips in the August 2017 year, up 11% from the August 2016 year. Of all resident departures, 43 percent were for holidays and 37 percent were for visiting friends and relatives.


Annual net migration was 72,100 in the August 2017 year. This compared with 69,100 in the August 2016 year. Migrant arrivals reached 132,200, a new annual record, and migrant departures were 60,100 in the year ended August 2017.

“The biggest increase in migrant arrivals were from South Africa and United Kingdom,” said Stats NZ’s population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan. “The biggest decrease was from India, which was down 2,600 to 9,200, due to a decrease in student migrant arrivals.”

In the year ended August, the net migration was mostly driven by non-New Zealand citizens, who provided New Zealand with a net gain of 73,500 migrants, compared with 71,700 in the August 2016 year. Migration of New Zealand citizens saw a net loss of 1,500 migrants, compared with the net loss of 2,600 in the August 2016 year.

Both arrivals and departures of non-New Zealand citizens are up from a year ago. Arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens increased from 94,000 in the August 2016 year to 100,000 in the August 2017 year. Departures of non-New Zealand citizens increased from 22,300 to 26,500 over the same period.

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