Overseas visitor arrivals were a record 345,700 in December, the highest recorded for any month and up 1 per cent from the previous high in December 2009.
Despite the increase in arrivals, the estimated average number of visitors per day fell from 192,500 in December 2009 to 188,300 in December 2010, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) said today.
That was because more visitors stayed one week or less and fewer stayed two weeks or more.
Visitor numbers from Australia in December were 4500 up from a year earlier, while arrivals from China were up 2500, but that was largely a recovery from a fall in December 2009.
Numbers from Britain were down 3600 in December from a year earlier, and visitors from the United States fell 2200.
A fall in cruise passengers affected visitor numbers from the US, with 800 fewer arriving and 1300 fewer departing on cruise ships compared with December 2009, SNZ said.
The 2.53 million visitor arrivals for the whole of 2010 were 3 percent higher than in 2009 and 41 per cent up from a decade earlier when the number was 1.79 million.
New Zealand residents left on 206,000 short-term overseas trips in December, 12 per cent up from a year earlier and the highest for any December month on record.
For the year, short term departures were up 6 percent to 2.03m, with overseas trips by New Zealand residents having risen 58 per cent over the last decade, from 1.28m in 2000.