Total visitor expenditure slips back to $5.49 billion but Chinese spending soars by nearly a quarter to $645m.
Work is being done to boost spending by visitors which has dipped in the past year, says a tourism leader.
While total expenditure was down, spending by Chinese visitors has rocketed to $645 million in the year to June, up almost a quarter on the previous 12 months.
Australia remains New Zealand's largest tourist market by numbers and expenditure with visitors from across the Tasman spending $1.62 billion in the year to June 30, also a fall on the previous year.
Of the top 10 markets, average spending by Australians is the lowest because they are visiting and staying with friends and relatives and here for just over half the average stay of 18.8 days. In the latest period they spent on average $1500 compared with the average of $2300 among all nationalities.
Spending by visitors from China remains above the average at $3100 although the average stay grew from three to four days as progress is made in the campaign to get them to stay longer.
Total spending by visitors was $5.49 billion - down from $5.56 billion, according to the International Visitor Survey released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The total number of visitors edged up from 2,407,600 to 2,407,704. Another notable change is the continued decline in the number of British visitors - from 214,000 to 189,000 - with spending dropping from $568 million to $415 million.
There has been a recovery in New Zealand's fourth most important market, the United States, with numbers up from 183,000 to 189,000 although spending has fallen from $448 million to $414 million.
Japanese and German numbers and spending are also up.
One tourism leader said the spend per visitor was of concern but there were strides being made to improve this and the country had been hit by the high value of the New Zealand dollar.
Tourism Export Council chief executive Lesley Immink said the national plan being developed by the Tourism Industry Association was aimed at increasing spend per visitor.
"We can't really complain about the visitor numbers and where we are positioned globally. The exchange rate hasn't done us any favours and sometimes you can't beat yourself up too much when there's an external influence."
Visa studies visitor spending intentions and found Australia will remain our most important market.
Visa country manager for New Zealand, Caroline Ada, said there was room to boost spending from that market, especially targeting Australian women who are most likely to manage household budgets and plan travel accordingly. "With the short-haul flights, people coming from Australia in particular, there is a lot of good work that has been done but it's not unified across the industry and it tends to be quite hit and miss and sporadic," she said.
"I know there's always that argument about funding ... but given the volume of transactions that come from the Australians it makes sense to target and maybe through that female angle might be the right approach."
Ada said Australian women were interested in lifestyle and leisure activities rather than shopping. Continuing to push ski destinations was also a good idea in Australia.
Annual tourist spending
* Australia $1.6 billion
* China $645 million
* United Kingdom $415 million
* United States $414 million
* Japan $262 million
* Germany $218 million
* Korea $158 million
* Canada $112 million
* Singapore $107 million
* Taiwan $82 million
* Other $1.4 billion
Total $5.49 billion
Source: International Visitor Survey