Rugby and league are experiencing a major downturn in appeal according to a survey that aims to identify New Zealand's prime sporting interests and how they have changed since 2010.

And another survey, also by the Nielsen company, has placed six sportswoman in the Star Power Top 10 - respondents were asked to name their favourite men and women rather than select regardless of gender.

The survey concluded that New Zealanders were moving away from traditional team and individual sports "towards a personal focus on health and wellbeing".

Respondents were asked: "What sports and activities do you have an interest in?" - this included participation, attendance, watching etc.


Walking had jumped by 29 per cent since 2010 to top the list, with 44 per cent of those surveyed participating in it.

Rugby had dropped by 17 per cent to lie second with 34 per cent, and interest in league had fallen significantly, down 22 per cent to 21 per cent. Nielsen conducts yearly surveys about New Zealand life and 2010 was used as the reference point for the sporting figures. This survey interviewed 12,000 people

A specific Star Power category named retired All Black Richie McCaw as New Zealand's most popular athlete, followed by shot put superstar Valerie Adams, world number one golfer Lydia Ko, another All Black legend Dan Carter and retired international cricketer Brendon McCullum.

This separate poll asked 2500 respondents to name three male and three female sports people. The results were "extrapolated out" using population figures, with McCaw receiving nearly 1.7m "unprompted mentions".

Nielsen also reported that 39 per cent of Kiwis use newspapers to get their sports information, under one third use Facebook and about a quarter listen to the radio.

TV was the key driver of sporting engagement, with two in five keeping up to date that way. Seven out of the top 10 sports website experienced growth since February last year.

Nielsen director Amanda Wisniewski said: "Options to 'watch the game' have never been greater and online engagement is skyrocketing. Seven out of ten sports fans use a smartphone and one in three own a tablet.

There's an appetite to provide content that has the ability to view anywhere and anytime."