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Visitor arrivals continue to break records
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  01 February 2016

International Travel and Migration: December 2015  –  Media Release

Visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 444,900 in December 2015, the highest-ever monthly figure, Statistics New Zealand said today. The biggest increase was in visitors from China, up 11,000 (43 percent) from December 2014.

"The previous record of 402,500, set in December 2014, was easily surpassed this month," population statistics manager Jo-Anne Skinner said. "This was mainly driven by a 17 percent increase in arrivals of holidaymakers."

In the December 2015 year, visitor arrivals reached a record 3.13 million, up 10 percent from the previous year. Australia contributed 1.33 million visitors, China 355,900, and the United States 243,100.

Highest-ever annual New Zealand resident departures 

New Zealand residents took 245,800 overseas trips in December 2015, up 6 percent from December 2014. Australia and the United States were the main destinations for travellers, with departures to Australia (106,100) and the United States (15,300) being the highest-ever for a December month.

New Zealand residents took a record 2.41 million overseas trips in the December 2015 year, up 6 percent from the year before. Departures to Australia contributed to the record, with an increase of 45,700 trips (4 percent) compared with the December 2014 year.

Net gain in migration falls slightly

Seasonally adjusted figures showed a net gain (more arrivals than departures) of 5,500 migrants in December 2015, down from the record high of 6,200 in November.

New Zealand's annual net gain of migrants has set records for the last 17 months, with an unadjusted figure of 64,900 in the December 2015 year. It resulted from 121,900 migrant arrivals (a record high) and 57,000 migrant departures. Annual net gains from Australia continued to increase, with 800 migrants in the December 2015 year. This was the highest net gain since the October 1991 year, and the third month in a row to show an annual net gain of migrants from Australia.

Of the migrant arrivals in the December 2015 year:

  • 25,300 were from Australia, with almost two-thirds being New Zealand citizens
  • 14,500 were from India, with three-quarters having student visas
  • 13,400 were from the United Kingdom, with almost half having work visas
  • 11,000 were from China, with almost half having student visas.

See the International Travel and Migration: December 2015 commentary and tables for more information.


For media enquiries contact: Melissa McKenzie, Christchurch 03 964 8700,
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 1 February 2016

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