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Record new arrivals as net migration tops 72,000
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  22 June 2017

International Travel and Migration: May 2017  –  Media Release

Annual net migration reached 72,000 in the May 2017 year, Stats NZ said today. Migrant arrivals numbered 130,400 and migrant departures numbered 58,400 in the year ended May 2017.

“The continued high level of net migration in the May 2017 year was driven by non-New Zealand citizens migrating to New Zealand,” population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. “Of the 130,400 migrant arrivals, 3 out of 4 were non-New Zealand citizens.”

On a net basis, New Zealand citizens leaving and returning to this country almost balanced each other out in the last 12 months. There was a net migration gain of 73,300 non-New Zealand citizens in the past year.

Graph, Annual PLT migration of New Zealand citizens, year ended May, 1997-2017.Graph, Annual PLT migration of non-New Zealand citizens, year ended May, 1997-2017.

Of the 98,300 non-New Zealand citizen arrivals, 12 percent were from China, 10 percent were from the United Kingdom, and 10 percent were from Australia.

Annual migrant arrivals from India fell 31 percent to 9,200 in the May 2017 year, mainly due to a 40 percent drop in annual student visa arrivals.

Offsetting the fall in the number of Indian migrants were rises in migrant arrivals from the United Kingdom (up 12 percent to 15,100) and South Africa (up 59 percent to 5,000).

Visa types contributing most to the migrant arrivals were:

  • work visas (44,500 – up 5,500)
  • NZ and Australian citizens (38,300 – up 2,000)
  • student visas (23,700 – down 4,000)
  • residence visas (16,700 – up 1,600).

Record annual visitor arrivals

Visitor arrivals were up 10 percent from the May 2016 year, to a new annual record high of just over 3.6 million in the 12 months ending May 2017.

Of those 3.6 million overseas visitors, 40 percent were from Australia and 11 percent were from China. Most visitors came to New Zealand on holiday or to visit family and friends.

Monthly visitor arrivals rose 15,500 to 209,200 in May 2017, up 8 percent from the same month last year.

Number of NZ resident overseas trips rises in May

In the 12 months ending May 2017, New Zealanders took a record 2.7 million overseas trips, up 11 percent from the previous year.

The biggest increases in overseas trips when compared to the May 2016 year were to Australia (up 66,800), the United States (up 31,500), and China (up 17,600).

New Zealanders took 233,100 overseas trips in May 2017, 11 percent more than in May 2016.

Visitors or migrants?

International migration statistics rely on the information provided on passenger cards at the time of travel. The reported length of intended stay in New Zealand, or time away from New Zealand, largely determines whether the passenger is a visitor or a migrant. Generally, visitors are those intending to stay or be away for less than one year; migrants are those intending to stay or be away for more than one year.

Backdoor migration to Australia – new article

See Migration to Australia via New Zealand for an article released today that explores the birthplace origins of New Zealand citizens who migrate to Australia.


For media enquiries contact: Kim Dunstan 03 964 8330, or James Weir 04 931 4763;
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 22 June 2017

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