New Zealand's net migration loss slowed last year, despite the lure of a brighter future across the Tasman which continued to attract kiwis.
The country reported a net outflow of migrants for a second calendar year, with annual net migration of negative 1,165 in 2012 from 1,855 in 2011, according to Statistics New Zealand. The slowdown came against a backdrop of some 38,800 more people jumping across the Tasman to Australia, even as the mining boom starts winding down. The UK, China and India provided a net inflow of more than 15,000 people.
"Net immigration was weaker than expected in December, breaking a three month run of positive inflows," said Westpac Banking economist Felix Delbruck in a note. "It's too soon to say if the recent improving trend has stalled - this may just be monthly volatility."
Today's figures also showed flat visitor arrival numbers, with the number of short-term visitors falling 0.1 per cent to 364,000 in December and down 1.4 per cent to 2.56 million on an annual basis. The number of Chinese visitors climbed 35 per cent on the year, with Asian arrivals up 11 per cent to 511,000.
European visitors fell an annual 14 per cent to 406,000, while Australian arrivals were flat on the year at 1.16 million.
The figures also showed more New Zealanders were taking advantage of the strong kiwi dollar, with more overseas trips. International trips by locals rose 4 per cent to 2.17 million in 2012, with the biggest increase in the number of travelers heading to the US. The kiwi recently traded at 83.90 US cents.