In the 12 months ending April 2018, there were fractionally fewer than 3.8 million international visitors to New Zealand. This was 5.4% more than during the 12 months ending April 2017.
The growth during the latest 12 months was slower than during any of the previous four years, but it was still faster than the average growth rate of 4.6% since the year 2000.
The graph below shows that there have been three distinct phases of growth in visitor numbers: rapid growth between 2000 and 2005, slow growth between 2006 and 2013 (with a slight dip in 2009 at the height of the Global Financial Crisis), and further rapid growth from 2014.
Since the latest period of rapid growth started, the number of international visitors to New Zealand has grown by 45%. Overall since 2000, the number has grown by 127%.
The table below unpacks where the additional visitors came from in the year to April 2018. In percentage terms, the fastest growing origin of visitors, by far, was Argentina. The same country was also in the Top 10 countries ranked by absolute increase in visitor numbers. Four Asian countries (South Korea, India, Hong and the Philippines) also appear in both lists.
However, most of the growth in total visitor numbers (66% in fact) was accounted for by the four countries (Australia, China, the USA and the UK) that are New Zealand’s largest tourism markets.
Total spending by international visitors from all origins in year to March 2018 was $10,890 million. This was 8.6% more than in year to March 2017.
The table below indicates where the international visitors went to within New Zealand, and what they did. The numbers are survey-based estimates.
An apparent omission from the top 10 local authority areas visited is Matamata-Piako. This district is home to Hobbiton, which is now thought to be attracting more than 600,000 visitors a year, most of whom are from overseas. However, respondents to the International Visitor Survey are only asked to identify places where they stayed for at least one night. Perhaps The Green DragonTM Inn should start offering accommodation.
The list of top 10 activities and attractions underlines the fact that international visitors mainly come to New Zealand to enjoy the natural environment. Only one of the activities and attractions on the list is indoors.