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International Travel and Migration: October 2015
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  23 November 2015

Visitor arrivals increase with more holiday travellers from China

Overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 229,400 in October 2015, up 18,800 (9 percent) from October 2014. Holiday visitors from China (up 6,200) were one of the main drivers of this increase.

 Graph, Monthly visitor arrivals, October 2005 to 2015.  

Visitor arrivals by country of residence

The biggest changes in visitors by country of residence between October 2014 and 2015 were in arrivals from:

  • China (up 7,500 to 27,000)
  • Australia (up 5,900 to 99,900).

Visitors arriving from China were the highest-ever for an October month and up 38 percent from October 2014. Most visitors were from Shanghai (3,900), Guangdong (3,100), and Beijing (2,900) provinces.

Nearly three-quarters of visitors arriving from Australia stayed for 10 days or less.

Visitor arrivals by travel purpose

The biggest changes in visitors by travel purpose between October 2014 and 2015 were in arrivals for:

  • holidays (up 12,500)
  • visiting friends and relatives (up 3,800)
  • conferences and conventions (up 1,100).

Visitors arriving for holidays numbered 110,600 in October 2015, up 13 percent from October 2014 (98,100). More holiday visitors from China (up 6,200) and Australia (up 3,200) were mainly responsible. 

Australia drove the increase in arrivals to visit friends and relatives, up 1,700 from October 2014, to 41,500 in October 2015.

Annual visitor arrivals rise again – to 3.06 million

Visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 3.06 million in the October 2015 year, the highest-ever annual total. This was 9 percent higher than in the October 2014 year.

Australia (1.31 million), China (335,400), and the United States (237,700) were New Zealand's biggest visitor sources, contributing 62 percent of all arrivals in the October 2015 year. These three countries also provided the biggest increases when compared with 2014, with arrivals from China up 86,600, Australia up 66,300, and the United States up 21,900.

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

More New Zealand residents head for United Kingdom in October

New Zealand-resident travellers departed on 217,000 overseas trips in October 2015, the highest-ever for an October month. This was up 10,000 (5 percent) from October 2014, and largely driven by holiday travellers to the United Kingdom (UK) (up 3,300).

More New Zealand-resident holiday departures (up 7,800) also coincided with New Zealand's school holidays (26 September to 11 October).

Graph, Monthly overseas trips by New Zealand residents, October 2005 to 2015.   

Overseas trips by country of main destination

The biggest changes in overseas trips by country of main destination (where the person will spend most time) between October 2014 and 2015 were in trips to:

  • the UK (up 4,600)
  • China (up 1,500)
  • India (up 1,100)
  • Australia (up 1,100)
  • the United States (down 2,100).

New Zealand residents holidaying in the UK in October 2015 numbered 9,200, double that of October 2014 (4,600). This coincided with the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which began on 18 September and finished on 31 October, with the New Zealand All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup for the second time in a row.

Highest annual number of overseas trips by New Zealand residents

New Zealand residents departed on 2.39 million overseas trips in the October 2015 year, the highest-ever annual total. This was up 131,800 (6 percent) from the October 2014 year.

Almost half of all trips by New Zealand residents were to Australia (1.13 million); this was up 49,000 from the October 2014 year. 

Residents also took more trips to Fiji (up 16,800), the United States (up 16,400), the UK (up 7,600), China (up 7,600), and India (up 6,200) than in the October 2014 year.

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

Record net gain of 6,200 migrants in October 2015

Seasonally adjusted permanent and long-term (PLT) migration figures showed a record net gain (more arrivals than departures) of 6,200 migrants in October 2015. Net migration has been regularly breaking records since August 2014 (4,800), when it surpassed the previous highest net gain of 4,700 in February 2003. 

October 2015 had a seasonally adjusted net gain of 200 migrants from Australia, the seventh month in a row to show a net gain. Before April 2015, the last net gain in migrants from Australia had been over 20 years ago (in 1991).

Graph, Seasonally adjusted monthly permanent and long-term migration, October 2005 to 2015.

First annual net gain of migrants from Australia in over 20 years

Unadjusted figures showed a record net gain of 62,500 migrants in the October 2015 year. The annual gain in migrants has set new records for the last 15 months. The net gain of 100 migrants from Australia in the October 2015 year was the first annual gain in migrants from that country since the November 1991 year (200).

Both more arrivals and fewer departures drove the increased net gain of migrants in the October 2015 year. Migrant arrivals (120,100) continued to reach a new high, up 12 percent from the October 2014 year. Migrant departures (57,600) were down 3 percent.

PLT migration by country of residence

The increase in migrant arrivals between the two October years was led by India, Australia, the Philippines, and China. The increase in arrivals from Australia was for both New Zealand citizens and non-New Zealand citizens.

The fall in migrant departures was due to fewer New Zealand citizens leaving for Australia. Departures of New Zealand citizens to Australia fell 13 percent in the October 2015 year (down to 21,400). This is less than half the record 48,800 departures in the December 2012 year.

The net gain of 100 migrants from Australia for the latest year was the first annual gain since the November 1991 year.

New Zealand recorded net gains of migrants from most other countries in the October 2015 year, led by:

  • India (13,100)
  • China (8,600)
  • the Philippines (4,900)
  • the UK (3,700).

PLT migrant arrivals by visa type

The biggest changes in migrant arrivals by visa type between the October 2014 and 2015 years were:

  • student visas (up 5,500)
  • work visas (up 4,200)
  • New Zealand and Australian citizens (up 2,200).

A total of 27,500 migrants arrived on student visas in the October 2015 year. Most of the students were from India (10,800) and China (5,300). The median age of a migrant arriving from India on a student visa was 23 years, while from China it was 19 years.

Migrants arriving on work visas numbered 36,800 in the October 2015 year, with the UK being the biggest source (6,100).  The median age of a migrant arriving from the UK on a work visa was 26 years. Work visas were the most common visa type for migrant arrivals. Arrivals on work visas include working holidaymakers.

Arrivals of New Zealand and Australian citizens, who do not have to apply for a visa, numbered 35,700 in the October 2015 year. 

Another 13,900 migrants arrived on residence visas. Most migrants gain New Zealand residence after, rather than before, arrival. Many arrive on temporary visas (eg work, student) and transfer to a residence visa after spending time in New Zealand.

PLT migration by New Zealand region

All regions had a net gain of international migrants in the October 2015 year, led by Auckland (29,000), and Canterbury (6,800). The next biggest net gains of migrants were in Waikato, Wellington, Bay of Plenty, and Otago.

Just over half of all migrants who stated an address on their arrival card were moving to the Auckland region. 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 permanent and long-term migration, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

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