Kiwis leaving for Australia fell to a record low last month, boosting New Zealand's net migration to levels the Reserve Bank says will help drive up house prices and stoke inflation.
The country gained a seasonally adjusted 4,100 net new migrants in April, the second highest net gain on record, and up from 3,800 in March, said Statistics New Zealand. A net 200 people left for Australia in April, the lowest since the government began tracking the data in 1996 and down from 400 in March.
In the year ended April 30, New Zealand gained a net 34,400 migrants, as 98,800 people arrived while 64,400 departed. That's almost three times the average annual net inflow in the past 20 years and the highest since 2003. In the year, the net loss to Australia fell to 11,100, from 34,100 a year earlier.
Net migration is forecast to peak at 38,000 later in the year, according to the Treasury's Budget projections released last week. The Reserve Bank has already embarked on a cycle of hiking interest rates citing rising migration among a number of inflationary pressures.
"We think the surge in migration will support the housing market through this year, but not enough to stop prices from slowing as mortgage rates continue to rise," Felix Delbruck, a Westpac senior economist, said in a note. Signs of improvement in the Australian economy and the eventual slow-down in the Canterbury rebuild mean "the current migration boom won't last forever."
India overtook China to be the biggest source of migrants in the year ended April, with a net 6,400 Indian migrants arriving. Chinese migrants were a net 6,200 and people from the United Kingdom a net 5,900. Auckland attracted the most international arrivals with a net gain of 16,000, Canterbury had a net gain of 5,300 and Otago gained a net 900 migrants.
Today's figures show short-term visitor arrivals rose 12 percent to 224,200 in the month compared to a year earlier, as an April Easter attracted more international holiday makers, Statistics NZ said.
Annually, short-term visitors rose 6 percent to 2.78 million, as arrivals from Indonesia and Singapore both grew more than 17 percent. Australian visits rose 5.5 percent to 1.24 million in the year ended April, China rose 10 percent to 239,376, the US gained 11 percent to 209,280 while annual UK visitors rose 2.8 percent to 194,288.