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International Travel and Migration: August 2016
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  21 September 2016

More holidaymakers drive visitor arrivals in August

Visitor arrivals numbered 221,200 in August 2016 – a new August record. A 13 percent increase (up 12,200) in holidaymakers compared with August 2015 drove the rise.

Visitor arrivals were up 18,300 (9 percent) in August 2016 compared with August 2015.

 Graph, Monthly visitor arrivals, August 2006 to 2016.  

Visitor arrivals by country of residence

The biggest changes in visitors by country of residence between August 2015 and 2016 were in arrivals from:

  • the United States (up 4,300 to 14,900)
  • Australia (up 3,200 to 106,100)
  • Malaysia (up 1,600 to 3,800).

New routes and the introduction of additional airlines flying between the United States and New Zealand contributed to the increase in visitor arrivals from the United States between the August months. In August 2016, visitors arriving from the United States most commonly lived in California, Texas, and New York state.

Visitor arrivals by travel purpose

The biggest change in visitor arrivals by travel purpose between August 2015 and 2016 was for holidays (up 12,200 to 109,100).

Visitors from the United States, Malaysia, and Japan boosted holiday arrivals. However, Australia is still the biggest source of holiday arrivals, accounting for 40 percent of total holidaymakers in August 2016.

Visitor arrivals from China and Australia drive new annual record

Visitor arrivals to New Zealand were a record 3.36 million in the August 2016 year. This was up 341,600 (11 percent) from the August 2015 year. A 17 percent increase in holiday arrivals (up 252,000 to 1.73 million) was largely responsible.

The biggest changes in visitor arrivals by country of residence between the August years were from:

  • China (up 83,700 to 404,200)
  • Australia (up 81,100 to 1.38 million)
  • the United States (up 30,000 to 266,300).

Holidaymakers and visits to friends and relatives accounted for 81 percent (2.72 million) of all visitor arrivals in the August 2016 year.

For more detailed data about visitor arrivals, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

New August record for short-term resident departures

New Zealand-resident travellers departed on 235,200 overseas trips in August 2016, a new August record. This surpassed the previous record of 218,500 in August 2015 by 16,700 trips (up 8 percent).

Graph, Monthly overseas trips by New Zealand residents, August 2006 to 2016.   

Overseas trips by country of main destination

The biggest changes in overseas trips by country of main destination (where the person will spend the most time) between August 2015 and 2016 were to:

  • Viet Nam (up 1,900 to 2,900)
  • Indonesia (up 1,800 to 6,800)
  • Cook Islands (up 1,800 to 10,400). 

Holidays accounted for 88 percent of New Zealand-resident departures to Viet Nam in August 2016, and for 87 percent of departures to Indonesia and the Cook Islands.

Annual trips by New Zealand residents reach record 2.51 million 

New Zealand residents departed on a record 2.51 million overseas trips in the August 2016 year. This was up 144,300 (6 percent) from the August 2015 year.

The biggest changes in New Zealand-resident departures by country of main destination between the August years were in departures for:

  • Australia (up 23,100 to 1.15 million)
  • Fiji (up 15,700 to 157,000)
  • the United Kingdom (up 14,100 to 115,700).

For more detailed data on overseas trips by New Zealand residents, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

Net gain of migrants steady in August

Seasonally adjusted permanent and long-term (PLT) migration figures showed a net gain (more arrivals than departures) of 5,600 migrants in August 2016. Since reaching a peak of 6,200 in November 2015, the seasonally adjusted net gain in migrants has averaged 5,700 a month.

Graph, Seasonally adjusted monthly permanent and long-term migration, August 2006 to 2016.

There was a seasonally adjusted net gain of 100 migrants from Australia in August 2016.

Annual net gain of 69,100 migrants

Unadjusted figures showed a record net gain of 69,100 migrants in the August 2016 year. This equalled the previous annual record of 69,100 in the June 2016 year. The latest annual net gain was up 8,800 from the year ended August 2015.

Net migration is calculated from PLT arrivals less PLT departures. The larger gain in migrants in the August 2016 year compared with the August 2015 year was driven primarily by more arrivals.

Migrant arrivals were 125,000 in the August 2016 year, up 7,100 (6 percent) from the August 2015 year, creating a new August-year record. New Zealand citizens returning to live in New Zealand accounted for one-quarter (31,000) of all migrant arrivals. The biggest changes in migrant arrivals by country of residence between the August 2015 and August 2016 years were in arrivals from:

  • South Africa (up 1,600 to 3,700)
  • China (up 1,600 to 12,200)
  • Australia (up 1,100 to 25,600)
  • India (down 2,100 to 11,900).

Migrant departures were 55,900 in the August 2016 year, down 1,700 (3 percent) from the August 2015 year. The decrease was driven by a fall in departures to Australia (down 1,200) between the two August years, as fewer New Zealand citizens migrated there.

In the August 2016 year, there was a net gain of 1,800 migrants from Australia. It was the 11th consecutive month to show an annual net gain.

PLT migrant arrivals by visa type

The biggest changes in migrant arrivals by visa type between the August years were:

  • work visas (up 3,700 to 39,600)
  • residence visas (up 1,900 to 15,700)
  • New Zealand and Australian citizens (up 1,600 to 36,800).

People arriving on work visas mostly came from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Australia. People arriving on work visas include working holidaymakers.

People arriving on residence visas mostly came from China, the United Kingdom, and Samoa.

For more detailed data about PLT migration, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

Processing system change

We now process international travel and migration data using a new, upgraded processing system, starting with August 2016 data in this release. This new system uses improved methodology, which takes greater account of travellers' history in addition to intentions stated on the arrival and departure cards. We also make greater use of automation in processing and classifying of passenger types.

Changes in rules used to determine passenger type have been minimised as much as possible to maintain the comparability in the total passenger movements over time. There have been no changes in the variables captured for PLT travellers.

See International Travel and Migration processing system changes in August 2016 in DataInfo+ for more information.

Find data tables and information about this release

For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

See DataInfo+ for more information on definitions and data quality.

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