Tourism in New Zealand

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Milford Sound is one of New Zealand's most popular tourist destinations.[1]
Hills above the Whanganui River
Bungee jumping is a popular activity in the resort town of Queenstown.

Tourism is an important industry in New Zealand, directly contributing NZ$12.9 billion (or 5.6%) of the country's GDP in 2016, as well as directly supporting 188,000 full-time equivalent jobs (nearly 7.5 of New Zealand's workforce). A further 4.3% of GDP (or NZ

9.8 billion) is indirectly contributed through the flow-on effects of tourism. International tourist spending accounted for 17.1% of New Zealand's export earnings (nearly NZ$12 billion). International and domestic tourism contributes, in total, NZ$34 billion to New Zealand's economy every year. [2]

New Zealand is marketed abroad as a "clean, green" adventure playground (Tourism New Zealand's main marketing slogan, 100% Pure New Zealand, reflects this) with typical destinations being nature areas such as Milford Sound, Abel Tasman National Park or the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, while activities such as bungee jumping or whale watching exemplify typical tourist attractions, often marketed primarily to individual and small-group travellers. By far the highest number of New Zealand's tourists (about 45%) come from Australia due to their close proximity and relations.

The Sky Tower, a popular attraction in Auckland, is an observation tower as well as a revolving restaurant.[3]

The vast majority of tourist arrivals to New Zealand come through Auckland Airport, which handled nearly fifteen million passengers in 2013. Two per cent of visitors arrive by sea (as of 2009).[4] Many international tourists spend time in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Rotorua, and Wellington.[5] Other high-profile destinations include the Bay of Islands, Waitomo Caves, Aoraki / Mount Cook, and Milford Sound. Many tourists travel large distances through the country during their stays, typically using coach lines or hire cars.

Domestic tourism is also important, though expenditure and trip numbers have been declining or stagnating in the face of fast-growing international tourism. Domestic tourist spending of NZ$20.2 billion a year still exceeds that of international visitors (NZ$11.8 billion).

In November 2012 readers of UK paper The Telegraph voted New Zealand the best country in the world to go to on holiday.[6] The national airline, Air New Zealand, was voted third-best long-haul carrier.

International travel

Air New Zealand plane with The Lord of the Rings livery. The film series, shot in New Zealand, is credited as having raised annual tourism numbers.[7]


The top 11 countries for international visitor arrivals to New Zealand in terms of their nationality are:[8]

Country 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Change 15-16 (%)
 Australia 1,155,792 1,218,016 1,247,760 1,326,800 1,409,200 Increase 6.2
 China, People's Republic of 197,024 228,928 264,864 355,904 409,008 Increase 14.9
 United States 177,680 201,424 220,512 243,104 291,392 Increase 19.9
 United Kingdom 189,648 191,632 194,416 203,952 220,976 Increase 8.3
 Japan 72,080 74,560 81,136 87,328 100,736 Increase 15.4
 Germany 63,776 69,808 78,912 84,544 96,848 Increase 14.6
 Korea, Republic of 52,896 50,992 55,488 64,992 82,384 Increase 26.8
 Canada 46,448 48,192 48,800 52,352 59,760 Increase 14.2
 Singapore 36,400 42,256 46,848 49,584 57,344 Increase 15.7
 India 29,856 30,976 37,392 46,000 52,016 Increase 13.1
 Malaysia 29,424 28,976 31,536 34,240 51,792 Increase 51.3
All other countries 513,594 531,935 549,736 583,127 668,483 Increase 14.6
Total 2,564,618 2,717,695 2,857,400 3,131,927 3,499,939 Increase 11.8

Australia and mainland China (i.e. excluding Hong Kong and Macau) account for 52 percent of international visitor arrivals. Of the top 11 nationalities, only China and India are required to obtain visitor visas; the remainder are entitled to visa waivers.


The country is internationally seen as a top holiday destination, shown by receiving awards like being voted most favourite destination by the readers of the Condé Nast Traveler magazine (specialising in luxury travels) in 2008, though it slipped to second place in 2009,[9] and was also named the best overseas holiday destination in a 2007 The Daily Telegraph poll, the United Kingdom's largest such poll. Since the start of a 2000 advertising campaign by Tourism New Zealand, there has been a 61% increase in the number of Britons coming to New Zealand.[10]

Tourism New Zealand, the country's official tourism agency, is actively promoting the country as a destination worldwide. Recent activities include a NZ$7 million campaign in China, concentrating on Shanghai,[11] and cooperating to produce a New Zealand tourism layer for Google Earth, the first country to receive such a treatment.[12]

Environmental impacts

Public concern over the environmental impacts of air travel may threaten tourism growth in New Zealand, as almost all tourists fly long distances to reach New Zealand. However, Ministry of Tourism data predicts a four percent annual growth in tourist numbers in New Zealand, with 3.2 million tourists annually to be reached in 2014.[13]

It is however unclear how New Zealand's carbon-neutral policy will affect future tourism – with some researchers arguing that the carbon emissions of tourism are much higher than generally considered, that their offsetting or mitigation will be very difficult, and that this poses a serious threat to the country's major source of foreign income.[14]

Domestic travel

The road to Mount Cook

Periodic campaigns are also directed at New Zealanders, urging them to travel within New Zealand instead of overseas, due to a perception by the tourism industry that too many New Zealanders are travelling to Australia or other countries instead of domestically.[15] Perhaps the best-known slogan is "Don't leave town until you've seen the country".

Air travel is a popular way of getting around the country due to the lack of transport alternatives over longer distances (for example, going from Auckland to Napier, a 400 km journey takes an hour by plane[16] compared to nearly five hours by car[17] or seven hours by bus.[18]) Passenger trains are limited to Auckland-Wellington, Picton-Christchurch and Christchurch-Greymouth, scenic daytrip journeys which often cost more than an airfare. Outside of trunk routes connecting main cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown), airfares can, due to a lack of competition, cost nearly as much as trips to Australia.[19]

Domestic tourism contributed NZ$14 billion to New Zealand's economy (as of the year ended March 2013). 31 million day trips and 16.6 million overnight trips were made in the year ended December 2012, a decline of 4% and 6% respectively. However, total spending stayed static, with a 2% decline in day trip spending (now at $3.7 billion) offset by a 1% increase in overnight spending (currently NZ$6.2 billion).

Tourist activities

Queenstown is known for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism.

Popular tourist activities in New Zealand include sightseeing, adventure tourism, tramping (hiking) and camping. To support active travel, New Zealand has numerous walking and hiking paths (often created and maintained by the DOC), some of which, like the Milford Track, have huge international recognition. There is also a walking route the length of the country (Te Araroa Trail) and a proposed New Zealand Cycleway.

See also


  1. ^ "NZ tops Travellers' Choice Awards". Stuff Travel. May 2008. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  2. ^ "About the industry". November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017. 
  3. ^ Sky Tower Official page - Retrieved 2009-07-04
  4. ^ "International visitors: total" (PDF). Ministry of Tourism. June 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "Number of International Visitors who Stayed Overnight in Key NZ Places". Ministry of Economic Development. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "NZ tops UK holiday poll". 3 News NZ. 16 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Pinchefsky, Carol (14 December 2012). "The Impact (Economic and Otherwise) of Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit on New Zealand". Forbes. Retrieved 8 January 2018. 
  8. ^ "International Visitor Arrivals to New Zealand: December 2016". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  9. ^ Harvey, Eveline (4 September 2009). "Travellers name NZ second-best destination". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "UK readers vote NZ best holiday destination". The New Zealand Herald. 1 December 2007. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  11. ^ Hembry, Owen (10 May 2007). "$7m more to sell NZ to China". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  12. ^ Hembry, Owen (12 April 2007). "NZ's 100% Pure and Google Earth in world first". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Hembry, Owen (3 September 2007). "NZ tourism strikes long-haul snag". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "Carbon policy spells end of tourism bonanza". National Business Review. 4 January 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  15. ^ South, Gill (16 September 2007). "Stay in NZ, urges tourism industry". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. 
  18. ^ "InterCity® // Bus Tickets From $1 // NZ's National Network". 
  19. ^ "Sky high fares". The New Zealand Herald. 

External links

  • New Zealand Government – Ministry for Tourism
  • New Zealand Government tourism marketing agency
  • Tourism New Zealand
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