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Annual migration and tourism at record highs
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  19 May 2017

International Travel and Migration: April 2017  –  Media Release

In the April 2017 year, 71,900 more migrants arrived in New Zealand than left, Stats NZ said today. The April 2017 annual net migration remained at the same level as in March 2017. Migrant arrivals numbered 129,800 in the April 2017 year, a new annual record, while migrant departures were 57,900.

In the April 2017 year, 52,600 people arrived in New Zealand on student visas. Of these, 23,900 were student migrants intending to stay for 12 months or more.

Graph, Student migrant arrivals, Year ended April 2005 to 2017.

“Almost one in five migrant arrivals for the last 12 months were people coming to New Zealand to study,” population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. “Student arrivals from Asia dominated the overall student migrant arrivals, contributing almost three-quarters of the total.” 

By country of last permanent residence, the largest sources of student migrants were India (25 percent), China (23 percent), Philippines (6 percent), and South Africa (5 percent).

The number of student migrants arriving in New Zealand fell 3,800 (down 14 percent) in the April 2017 year. This reflected a drop in student arrivals from India (down 3,800). This was the second consecutive year of decreasing student migrant arrivals from this country.

Of all the student migrants (who state their address on arrival in New Zealand), most settle in the Auckland region (57 percent), followed by Canterbury (11 percent), Wellington (8 percent), and Waikato (7 percent) regions.

Highest-ever visitor arrivals in the April 2017 year

Visitor arrivals for the April 2017 year numbered 3.6 million, setting a new annual record. The April 2017 annual total was up 10 percent from the April 2016 year.

Visitor arrivals numbered 311,900 in the April 2017 month, up 55,200 (21 percent) from April 2016. Easter holidays, which fell in April this year but in March in 2016, likely contributed to the increase.

“Almost 35,000 more holiday-makers arrived in New Zealand in April 2017 than in April 2016, which was the main contributor to the strong overall increase in visitor arrivals in April,” Mr Dolan said.

Kiwis take a record 2.7 million overseas trips 

New Zealand residents took a record 2.7 million overseas trips in the April 2017 year, up 11 percent from the April 2016 year.

In April 2017, New Zealand residents left on 244,200 overseas trips, up 12 percent from April 2016.

Migrants or visitors?

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.

New migration series released today

Stats NZ today also released an experimental series of migrant statistics by the '12/16-month rule'. The alternative measure identifies travellers' migrant status after observing their travel histories over a 16-month follow-up period.

Net migration figures measure up well has more information about this release and comparisons of results with the PLT measure.


For media enquiries contact: Kim Dunstan 03 964 8330, or James Weir 04 931 4763;
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 19 May 2017

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