Migrants and tourists continued to flock to New Zealand in record numbers in the year to February, although the net inflow may be showing signs of leveling off.
Annual net migration rose to a record 71,333 in the 12 months ended February 28, up from 67,391 in the same period a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. The number, however, was on a par with the previous annual record set in January. People arriving as permanent and long-term migrants outnumbered those departing by 128,816 to 57,483 in the latest 12 months. Of those arriving, 57,156 were bound for Auckland while 9,970 were headed to the capital city of Wellington. In the South Island, 12,720 were bound for Canterbury. In terms of departures, 21,843 left Auckland while 5,884 left Canterbury.
"About a third of all migrant arrivals for the year were people coming to New Zealand on work visas," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. "Just over a quarter of all work-visa migrants were from the United Kingdom and France."
Westpac Bank acting chief economist Michael Gordon doesn't expect the numbers to dip any time soon. "We expect net migration inflows to remain strong for some time, with NZ's positive economic story, including its labour market, making us an attractive destination," he said.
The Reserve Bank, however, which has been confounded by persistently high migration and its impact on the city of Auckland and its property prices in particular, expects the net inflow to abate as growth reignites in other economies.
China continued to make up the biggest source of permanent and long-term arrivals on residence visas, rising 26 per cent to 3,508, while the total residence visas rose 17 per cent to 16,833. Work-visa migrants from the UK rose 12.2 per cent to 7,210 while those from France rose 15.1 per cent to 3,441.
Short-term visitor arrivals, which include tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.544 million in the year ended February, up 10.7 per cent from a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. That number also equaled the previous annual record set in January 2017. Visitors from Australia rose 5.3 per cent to 1.42 million while visitors from China were up 9.4 per cent to 402,832. Visitors from India jumped 14.8 per cent to 53,424 while visitors from Hong Kong were up 23.1 per cent to 46,288.
Statistics New Zealand also noted New Zealand residents set a new annual record of 2.66 million overseas trips in the February 2017 year, up 10 per cent from the February 2016 year.