Economy's second-biggest export earner growing, driven by rises from Germany and US despite high dollar.
Spending by tourists is up 18 per cent in the past year as the tourism industry continues its recovery from tough times.
Visitor survey figures show total spending rose 9 per cent to almost $7 billion. Spending by tourists while in the country is the biggest component of that and was up to $4.2 billion, excluding air fares and pre-bookings.
Tourism is New Zealand's second biggest export earner after dairy and the figures show average spending in the year to March was also surging, driven mostly by increases from Germany and the United States in spite of the high kiwi.
Total spending by Americans was up an estimated 55 per cent to $727 million and spending by visitors from China rose 19 per cent to $869 million.
Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment sector performance manager Peter Ellis said the increases confirmed a trend.
"This confirms what industry-watchers have been saying, that from the beginning of 2013 tourism business has picked up after five or six years that were really tough apart from the Rugby World Cup."
Arrival numbers are also up, with traditional Western markets pushing up numbers by 6.1 per cent to 2.78 million in the year ended in April.
Germany, the United States and Britain recorded growth of 16.3 per cent, 11.3 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively for the 12-month period.
Tourism New Zealand promotes the country overseas and its chief executive, Kevin Bowler, said overall visitor spend was ahead of the Tourism 2025 growth target of 6 per cent.
"What's different today over two or three years ago is that we've still got the Asian growth but we've got strong growth out of traditional markets that have been very flat or going backwards during the global financial crisis."
Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key said at the TRENZ gathering in Auckland yesterday a $158 million boost to tourism promotion over four years announced last year was starting to pay dividends.
Tourism NZ was targeting the luxury market, the convention and incentive market and new areas including Latin America, India and Indonesia.
Key said the healthy figures were attributable to the strong marketing push, the spinoff from publicity around The Hobbit movies and healthier economies in traditional markets.
He said a visitor survey last year showed 9.5 per cent of all arrivals were influenced by The Hobbit movies.
Key also announced six tourism projects had been awarded $3.84 million by the Government as part of its Tourism Growth Partnership scheme.
Those getting the money were matching it with $23 million of their own funding.
Those getting the funds range from support for Auckland Airport to spend on marketing in China's Guangdong province to an adventure park in Christchurch.
Key also updated progress on the network of cycle trails. He said 16 of the 23 planned cycle trails (2516km of 2700km) had been finished.
An estimated 100,000 people had cycled or walked the trails in January.
• Air New Zealand and alliance partner Virgin Australia will increase transtasman capacity to Queenstown by almost 50 per cent - 36,000 seats - over the upcoming summer period of November to March compared with the same period last year.
PM doubts cup will be affected
Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key says the cricket match-fixing allegations with former New Zealand players in the spotlight are unlikely to affect next year's Cricket World Cup which is being co-hosted by this country.
"If the allegations were to be proved they would reflect very badly on the individuals but I don't think on New Zealand as a whole."
New Zealand is co-hosting the cup with Australia next February and March in what will be the biggest sporting event of the year and a golden opportunity to leverage tourism and trade. Between 15,000 and 25,000 fans are expected in the country and the size of the potential global television audience has been put at 2.2 billion.
Key said at the Trenz conference in Auckland allegations of match-fixing in cricket in particular had been around for a long time.
"If anything they reflect the internationalisation of the game but it would be extremely disappointing if it was to be proven there were New Zealanders involved in match fixing."