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Chinese New Year helps boost visitor arrivals
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  25 February 2016

International Travel and Migration: January 2016  –  Media Release

An increase in holidaymakers from China helped boost visitor arrivals to a record high for a January month, Statistics New Zealand said today. Monthly visitor arrivals numbered 343,400 in January 2016, up 41,000 (14 percent) from January 2015.

"Visitor arrivals from China picked up towards the end of January, in the lead-up to the Chinese New Year, which occurred in early February this year," population statistics manager Jo-Anne Skinner said. "The timing of this popular travel period led to a 59 percent increase in arrivals from China compared with January 2015."

In the January 2016 year, visitor arrivals reached a record 3.17 million, up 11 percent from the previous year. Holidaymakers accounted for half of all visitor arrivals (1.60 million), and of these, Australia contributed 518,900 visitors, China 285,300, and the United States 153,800.

Record-breaking run for annual New Zealand resident departures 

New Zealand residents took 145,700 overseas trips in January 2016, up 9 percent from January 2015. Trips to Australia (70,400) and China (7,400) were the highest for a January month.

New Zealand residents took a record 2.42 million overseas trips in the January 2016 year, up 6 percent from the January 2015 year. Departures to Australia contributed to the record, with an increase of 47,400 trips compared with the January 2015 year.

Net gain in migration increases

Seasonally adjusted figures showed a net gain (more arrivals than departures) of 6,100 migrants in January 2016, slightly higher than the average number of migrants per month in the last six months (5,900).

New Zealand's annual net gain of migrants has continued to rise, with an unadjusted figure of 65,900 in the January 2016 year. This is the 18th consecutive month to show a record annual net gain. Migrant arrivals reached a new high of 123,000 and departures fell to 57,100. The net gain from Australia numbered 1,300 for the January 2016 year, surpassing the 1,000 mark for the first time since the October 1991 year. This was the fourth month in a row to show an annual net gain of migrants from Australia.

Of the migrant arrivals in the January 2016 year:

  • 30,600 were New Zealand citizens, making up one-quarter of all migrant arrivals 
  • 15,200 were Indian citizens, with almost three-quarters having student visas
  • 11,000 were Chinese citizens, with over half having student visas and one-quarter having residence visas.

See the International Travel and Migration: January 2016 commentary and tables for more information.


For media enquiries contact: Melissa McKenzie, Christchurch 03 964 8700,
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 25 February 2016

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