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International Travel and Migration: June 2016
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  21 July 2016

More holiday-makers drive visitor arrivals in June

Visitor arrivals numbered 196,200 in June 2016, a new June record, driven by a 21 percent increase (up 15,300) in holiday-makers from June 2015.

Visitor arrivals were up 19,300 (11 percent) in June 2016 from June 2015.

 Graph, Monthly visitor arrivals, May 2006 to 2016.  

Visitor arrivals by country of residence

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

  • Australia (up 4,300 to 97,500)
  • China (up 2,400 to 18,600)
  • the United States (up 2,200 to 16,000).

In June 2016, visitors arriving from Australia and China most commonly stayed in New Zealand for three days.

Visitor arrivals by travel purpose

The biggest changes in visitors by travel purpose between June 2015 and 2016 were for:

  • holidays (up 15,300 to 89,800)
  • visiting friends/relatives (up 5,400 to 60,200).

Visitors from Australia, the United States, and China boosted holiday arrivals. Arrivals from Australia dominated the increase in visits to friends and family.

Annual visitor arrivals a record 3.31 million in June 2016 year

Visitor arrivals to New Zealand were a record 3.31 million in the June 2016 year. This was up 318,500 from the June 2015 year, an 11 percent increase. A 16 percent increase in holiday arrivals (up 235,100 to 1.70 million) was largely responsible.

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

  • China (up 83,600 to 396,900)
  • Australia (up 79,800 to 1.37 million)
  • the United States (up 24,200 to 257,500).

Holiday-makers and visits to friends and relatives accounted for 81 percent (2.68 million) of the visitor arrivals in the June 2016 year.

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

Resident departures increase in June

New Zealand-resident travellers departed on 239,400 overseas trips in June 2016, up 8 percent from June 2015. This new June record surpassed the previous record in June 2015 by 18,600 trips.

Graph, Monthly overseas trips by New Zealand residents, May 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 June 2015 and 2016 were to:

  • Australia (up 6,700 to 96,100)
  • China (up 1,500 to 8,100)
  • Cook Islands (up 1,500 to 10,100)
  • Viet Nam (up 1,400 to 2,700).

Visits to Viet Nam were boosted by the addition of direct flights to Ho Chi Minh city, which started in June 2016.

Annual trips by New Zealand residents reach 2.46 million 

New Zealand residents departed on 2.46 million overseas trips in the June 2016 year. This was up 128,800 (6 percent) from the June 2015 year.

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

  • Australia (up 30,400 to 1.15 million)
  • Fiji (up 17,500 to 153,800)
  • the United Kingdom (up 12,300 to 113,300).

The most-common age for a New Zealand resident travelling to Australia in the June 2016 year was 54 years, while it was 49 years for all other countries combined.

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 June

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

While the monthly net gain of migrants is still positive and remains high relative to historic levels, recent net gains show a declining trend. The trend in migrant arrivals is declining slightly, while the departure trend remains steady.

Graph, Monthly net permanent and long-term migration, May 2006 to 2016.

There was a small seasonally adjusted net gain of 200 migrants from Australia in June 2016. This continued the regular net gains from Australia during the last year, broken only by a small net loss in April 2016.

Annual net gain of 69,100 migrants

Unadjusted figures showed a record net gain of 69,100 migrants in the June 2016 year. This is the 23rd month in a row that the annual net gain in migrants has set a new record. Before this period, the record was a net gain of 42,500 migrants in the year ended May 2003.

The countries contributing the biggest net gains in migration in the June 2016 year were:

  • India (12,100)
  • China (9,700)
  • the Philippines (5,000)
  • the United Kingdom (4,100).

Net migration is calculated from PLT arrivals less PLT departures. The new record annual net gain in migrants in the June 2016 year was driven primarily by more arrivals. Migrant arrivals were a record 125,100 in the June 2016 year, up 9,400 (8 percent) from the June 2015 year. New Zealand citizens returning to live in New Zealand accounted for one-quarter (30,800) of all migrant arrivals. 

While New Zealand citizens still show a net loss, they are significant in determining the current record net gains in migration – because they dominate both migrant arrivals and departures.

See the Kiwi factor in record net migration for context and detail around the New Zealand-citizen influence on net migration.(Note: the article uses data to May 2016 and does not include data from this release.)

The increase in migrant arrivals between the June 2015 and June 2016 years was led by:

  • Australia (up 1,600 to 25,700)
  • China (up 1,600 to 11,800)
  • South Africa (up 1,400 to 3,300).

Migrant departures (56,000) fell slightly (down 1,400 or 2 percent) from the June 2015 year. The decrease was driven by a fall in departures to Australia (down 1,500) between the two June years, as fewer New Zealand citizens migrated there. This also led to a net gain of 1,900 migrants from Australia in the June 2016 year. June was the ninth consecutive month to show an annual net gain.

The pattern of trans-Tasman migration has been volatile, driven chiefly by New Zealand citizens.

See Kiwi exodus to Australia bungees back for a historical perspective on trans-Tasman migration flows and recent net gains from Australia.

PLT migrant arrivals by visa type

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

  • work visas (up 3,900 to 39,100)
  • student visas (up 1,700 to 27,500)
  • New Zealand and Australian citizens (up 1,600 to 36,400).

People arriving on work visas mostly came from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Australia. The most-common occupations of migrants arriving on work visas in the latest year (for those who specified their occupation on the arrival card) were hospitality workers, food trade workers, and engineering professionals. People arriving on work visas include working holidaymakers.

People arriving on student visas mostly came from India, China, and the Philippines.

PLT migration by New Zealand region

All regions had a net gain of international migrants in the June 2016 year, led by Auckland (31,800) and Canterbury (7,000). The next-biggest net gains were in Wellington, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty.

Just over half of all arrivals who stated an address on their arrival card indicated they would reside in Auckland.

Of those who stated an address on their departure card, 42 percent were migrating from the Auckland region. In comparison, the Auckland region is home to 34 percent of New Zealand's population (at 30 June 2015). 

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

Upcoming system change

International travel and migration data will soon be processed using a new, upgraded processing system, starting with August data (to be released in September).

More detailed information will be available on 19 August 2016, with International Travel and Migration: July 2016.

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