Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Flow of migrants to Oz slowing

Slowdown sign of changing employment outlook in both countries, says economist.

Chelsea Brown, 26, and Brendan Thomas, 28, moved to New Zealand from Perth for Mr Thomas' job.
Chelsea Brown, 26, and Brendan Thomas, 28, moved to New Zealand from Perth for Mr Thomas' job.

More Australians are coming to New Zealand and fewer Kiwis are crossing the Tasman in the latest sign that the grass may not be greener across the Ditch.

According to Statistics New Zealand International Travel and Migration data for May, there were 1700 more migrants arriving than departures - an increase attributed to a net 1900 Kiwis moving to Australia, the lowest number since July 2010.

Last month, 153,000 tourists visited New Zealand, 9 per cent more than in the same month last year and the highest numbers for a May month, according to International Travel and Migration data for May.

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander said the increase in tourists and migrants signalled a boost for the local economy, but also put pressure on the booming housing markets.

"Of course it gives an extra boost to the economy overall, in terms of retail spending, but I think the main impact is going to be on the housing market in Auckland - given that that's where about half of migrants in New Zealand go to - and in Christchurch where a lot of the people are going to work."

Mr Alexander said more residents meant more labour, and may help alleviate upcoming shortages, especially in the construction industry.

"There are differences in the labour market and the economic outlook - the outlook for Australia is generally getting worse, whereas the outlook for New Zealand - we are looking for quite a surge."

He said fewer Kiwis crossing the Ditch was "cyclic" and reflected the job markets in both countries.

"There is a cycle in terms of migration to Australia and we have reached a point where the numbers were going to start pulling back, it's a natural thing.

"People go there and once they have done their thing they come back again. Australia's unemployment rate has risen in the past year from 5 per cent to 5.5 per cent and is predicted to go to 6 per cent. Whereas, we have gone from 6.7 per cent to 6.2 per cent and predicted to drop to 5 per cent."

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key, who is also Minister for Tourism, attributed higher tourist numbers to international exposure.

"The increase in visitor numbers is welcome, but not surprising. Tourism New Zealand has actively leveraged the Hobbit films with its 100 per cent Pure Middle Earth campaign, and the increased awareness of New Zealand is a factor in increased numbers."

Work lures pair to NZ for a change

Australians Brendan Thomas and Chelsea Brown are part of a growing demographic bucking previous migration trends and moving to New Zealand.

The Sandringham couple moved from Perth last year when Mr Thomas, 28, was offered a promotion as sports and marketing manager for Red Bull in Auckland.

Ms Brown, 26, followed two months later and now works as a flight attendant for Air New Zealand.

"For me it was for the job, which was surprising because most people go the other way for the job," said Mr Thomas.

"For us it was really exciting because we had never been to New Zealand before."

Mr Thomas said they had embraced the Kiwi lifestyle. "Moving from Perth, the biggest challenge to begin with was probably the weather but one of the cool things about living over here is you can be at the beach or the snow in a couple of hours.

"Going out is much cheaper, too. We really enjoy going out to restaurants and bars. It is much cheaper than going out in Australia."

He said shops were open later, which made shopping more accessible and convenient, and the "super nice" locals made them feel very welcome.

- NZ Herald

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