More New Zealanders are taking short trips to Australia but fewer are going to live there.

The seasonally adjusted net loss of 1,200 migrants to Australia in July was the smallest since November 2009 and was down from a high of 3,500 in July 2012, Statistics New Zealand said.

Still, there were 9,300 more trips taken to Australia, and 5,200 more visitors from across the Tasman, compared with the previous July.

Statistics New Zealand released international travel and migration data for July today.


New Zealanders took 237,000 overseas trips in July, the highest for any month and 15 per cent more than July 2012. But after adjustment for an earlier winter school holiday period in 2013, the rise was only 2 per cent.

New Zealand welcomed 183,700 visitors in July, the highest for a July month and up 6 per cent on last July.

More visitors arrived from China, the UK, and the US as well as from Australia.

In the year ended July 2013, there were 2.647 million visitors from all countries, up 1 per cent from the previous year.

New Zealand had a seasonally adjusted net gain of 2,000 migrants in July, similar to the previous month and the highest since July 2009.

In the July 2013 year, New Zealand had a net gain of 10,600 migrants, the highest since the November 2010 year when the net gain was 11,500.

The net annual loss of 29,200 migrants to Australia was the lowest since the May 2011.

ASB Bank economist Jane Turner said the lift in net migration reflected "the diverging economic outlooks between Australia and New Zealand."

"Over the past year, much of the increase in net migration was largely into Canterbury, as the rebuild attracted labour into the region. More recently, the lift in net migration has been more broad based across the country, and this likely relates more to the poor economic performance and weak labour market in Australia," she said.

The lift in net migration was a development for the Reserve Bank to watch closely, said Turner.

"The increase in net migration adds further to housing demand at a time when supply is very low: we expect annual net migration to peak at 24,000 by mid-2014. Low interest rates, population growth and income growth will continue to add to housing demand and fuel house price increases over the coming months."

Given the broad nature of demand and low levels of housing supply, Turner said she expected the Reserve Bank's 's high loan-to-value lending restrictions, announced yesterday, would have only a modest impact.

She said she continued to expect the Reserve Bank would start to lift the Official Cash Rate (OCR) from March 2014.