Tourism in New Zealand

New Zealand landscapes: Snow-capped mountains near Milford Sound
New Zealand landscapes: A beach at sunset near Greymouth
New Zealand landscapes: Hills above the Whanganui River
Sky Tower, in Auckland, the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, is an observation tower as well as a revolving restaurant.[1]
Seakayaking from Hahei, New Zealand
Queenstown from Bob's Peak

Tourism is an important industry in New Zealand, directly contributing NZ$7.3 billion (or 3.7%) of the country's GDP in 2013, as well as directly supporting 110,800 full-time equivalent jobs (nearly 6% of New Zealand's workforce). A further 5% of GDP (or NZ$9.8 billion) is indirectly contributed through the flow-on effects of tourism. International tourist spending accounted for 16% of New Zealand's export earnings (nearly NZ$10 billion). International and domestic tourism contributes, in total, NZ$24 billion to New Zealand's economy every year.[2] Currently the Prime Minister John Key also serves as Minister of Tourism.[3]

New Zealand is marketed abroad as a "clean, green" adventure playground (Tourism New Zealand's main marketing slogan, 100% Pure New Zealand, reflects this) with typical destinations being nature areas such as Milford Sound, Abel Tasman National Park or the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, while activities such as bungee jumping or whale watching exemplify typical tourist attractions, often marketed primarily to individual and small-group travellers. By far the highest number of New Zealand's tourists (about 45%) come from Australia due to their close proximity and relations.

The vast majority of tourist arrivals to New Zealand come through Auckland Airport, which handled nearly fifteen million passengers in 2013. Two per cent of visitors arrive by sea (as of 2009).[4] Many international tourists spend time in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Rotorua, and Wellington.[5] Other high-profile destinations include the Bay of Islands, Waitomo Caves, Aoraki / Mount Cook, and Milford Sound. Many tourists travel large distances through the country during their stays, typically using coach lines or hire cars.

Domestic tourism is also important, though expenditure and trip numbers have been declining or stagnating in the face of fast-growing international tourism. Domestic tourist spending of NZ$9.8 billion a year still exceeds that of international visitors (NZ$6.5 billion).

In November 2012 readers of UK paper The Telegraph voted New Zealand the best country in the world to go to on holiday.[6] The national airline, Air New Zealand, was voted third-best long-haul carrier.

International travel


The top 11 countries for short term visits to New Zealand in terms of their nationality are:[7]

Country 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
 Australia 826,755 858,766 901,078
 China, People's Republic of 208,901 223,200 287,386
 United States 177,865 199,207 219,282
 United Kingdom 177,482 185,492 190,211
 Japan 73,461 73,371 80,241
 Germany 60,407 68,956 73,991
 France 62,349 67,686 71,163
 Korea, Republic of 54,630 56,771 62,286
 Canada 46,137 47,369 49,373
 India 32,625 35,708 45,778
 Malaysia 26,335 30,400 33,340
All other countries 326,836 352,949 378,280
Total 2,073,783 2,200,552 2,392,409

The top five markets (Australia, the People's Republic of China excluding Hong Kong and Macau, the United States of America, Japan and the United Kingdom) provided 71% of New Zealand's overseas visitors, with nearly half of them coming from Australia. Except China and India none of the other Top 10 nationalities require a short term visa for New Zealand.


The country is internationally seen as a top holiday destination, shown by receiving awards like being voted most favourite destination by the readers of the Condé Nast Traveler magazine (specialising in luxury travels) in 2008, though it slipped to second place in 2009,[8] and was also named the best overseas holiday destination in a 2007 The Daily Telegraph poll, the United Kingdom's largest such poll. Since the start of a 2000 advertising campaign by Tourism New Zealand, there has been a 61% increase in the number of Britons coming to New Zealand.[9]

Tourism New Zealand, the country's official tourism agency, is actively promoting the country as a destination worldwide. Recent activities include a NZ$7 million campaign in China, concentrating on Shanghai,[10] and cooperating to produce a New Zealand tourism layer for Google Earth, the first country to receive such a treatment.[11]

Environmental impacts

Public concern over the environmental impacts of air travel may threaten tourism growth in New Zealand, as almost all tourists fly long distances to reach New Zealand. However, Ministry of Tourism data predicts a four per cent annual growth in tourist numbers in New Zealand, with 3.2 million tourists annually to be reached in 2014.[12]

It is however unclear how New Zealand's carbon-neutral policy will affect future tourism – with some researchers arguing that the carbon emissions of tourism are much higher than generally considered, that their offsetting or mitigation will be very difficult, and that this poses a serious threat to the country's major source of foreign income.[13]

Domestic travel

The road to Mount Cook

Periodic campaigns are also directed at New Zealanders, urging them to travel within New Zealand instead of overseas, due to a perception by the tourism industry that too many New Zealanders are travelling to Australia or other countries instead of domestically.[14] Perhaps the best known slogan is "Don't leave town until you've seen the country".

Air travel is a popular way of getting around the country due to the lack of transport alternatives over longer distances (for example, going from Auckland to Napier, a 400 km journey, by plane takes an hour,[15] compared to going by car, which takes nearly five hours nonstop[16] or by bus which takes seven hours.[17]) Passenger trains are limited to Auckland-Wellington, Picton-Christchurch and Christchurch-Greymouth, scenic daytrip journeys which often cost more than an airfare. Outside of trunk routes connecting main cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown), airfares can, due to a lack of competition, cost nearly as much as trips to Australia.[18]

Domestic tourism contributed NZ$14 billion to New Zealand's economy (as of the year ended March 2013). 31 million day trips and 16.6 million overnight trips were made in the year ended December 2012, a decline of 4% and 6% respectively. However, total spending stayed static, with a 2% decline in day trip spending (now at $3.7 billion) offset by a 1% increase in overnight spending (currently NZ$6.2 billion).

Tourist activities

The resort town of Queenstown from the Gondola.

Popular tourist activities in New Zealand include sightseeing, adventure tourism, tramping (hiking) and camping. To support active travel, New Zealand has numerous walking and hiking paths (often created and maintained by the DOC), some of which, like the Milford Track, have huge international recognition. There is also a walking route the length of the country, Te Araroa Trail, which is in the process of being finished as of the late 2000s, and a proposed New Zealand Cycleway.

See also


  1. Sky Tower Official page - Retrieved 2009-07-04
  2. "Homepage - Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment" (PDF).
  3. Cieply, Michael; Barnes, Brooke (2012-11-24). "New Zealand Wants a Hollywood Put on Its Map". The New York Times. pp. A1. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  4. "International visitors: total" (PDF). Ministry of Tourism. June 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  5. "Number of International Visitors who Stayed Overnight in Key NZ Places". Ministry of Economic Development. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  6. "NZ tops UK holiday poll". 3 News NZ. 16 November 2012.
  7. Immigration New Zealand statistics - A1b - Arrivals by month
  8. Harvey, Eveline (4 September 2009). "Travellers name NZ second-best destination". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  9. "UK readers vote NZ best holiday destination". The New Zealand Herald. 1 December 2007. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  10. Hembry, Owen (10 May 2007). "$7m more to sell NZ to China". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  11. Hembry, Owen (12 April 2007). "NZ's 100% Pure and Google Earth in world first". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  12. Hembry, Owen (3 September 2007). "NZ tourism strikes long-haul snag". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  13. "Carbon policy spells end of tourism bonanza". National Business Review. 4 January 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  14. South, Gill (16 September 2007). "Stay in NZ, urges tourism industry". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  16. "Google Maps". Google Maps.
  17. "InterCity® // Bus Tickets From $1 // NZ's National Network".
  18. "Sky high fares". The New Zealand Herald.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for New Zealand.

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