Cruise ship spending surged by more than 18 per cent to $434 million in the past year, Statistics NZ says.

The increased number of voyages and passengers boosted spending by $67.1m in the year ended June, following a 9.9 per cent increase in the previous 12 months.

Spending by passengers climbed to $284m in the latest year, up 31.8 per cent.

This follows a 0.6 per cent decrease in visitor spending in 2017, after a fall in cruise passenger numbers that year.

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Since 2015, spending by cruise visitors has increased 54.2 per cent ($99.9 million), Stats NZ said.

Vessel spend associated with services, including fuel, provided to cruise ships visiting New Zealand totalled $106.6m, down 10.0 per cent ($11.9m). The GST from cruise visitor spending contributed a further $43.4m to total expenditure.

Auckland and Tauranga had the largest total spending by port. Spending in Auckland totalled $131.4m (up 11.2 per cent) with Tauranga recording $65.9m (down 3 per cent).

There were more than 259,000 cruise ship passengers in the year ended June 2018, up 17 per cent or 38,000 on the past year, boosted mega cruise ship Ovation of the Seas and the ocean liner Queen Mary II.

The New Zealand Cruise Association reported that in the June 2018 year, cruise ships made more than 700 port visits, up from the 2017 year, despite disruptions by cyclones Fehi and Gita in February 2018.

The increase in passengers was driven by New Zealand citizens (up 18,000) and people from the United States (up 12,000). This partly reflected more winter cruises from New Zealand to the Pacific than in the 2017 year.

As a share, Australian citizens made up 44 per cent of all passengers in the 2018 year. United States citizens accounted for 20 per cent, New Zealand citizens 13 per cent, and United Kingdom citizens 8 per cent. Collectively, Australia, the US, and Britain made up 72 per cent of all passengers compared with 76 per cent in the June 2015 year.

Auckland and Dunedin ports had the largest number of passengers. In the June 2018 year, Auckland received 211,000 passengers, up 9 per cent (18,000), and Dunedin received 180,000 up 11 per cent (17,000).

Earlier this year the Auckland Chamber of Commerce said revenue of up to $40m was being lost for Auckland businesses because of delays building mooring buoys or "dolphins" at the end of Queens Wharf in plans opposed by those wanting to save the harbour from further encroachment.

Resource consent for the project was lodged on July 13.

The dolphin would allow ships such as Ovation of the Seas to berth at the wharf.

The Royal Caribbean ship as a capacity for 6000 guests and is the largest ship to be based in the region, now coming into her third season here.

Royal Caribbean said between its three brands it made 142 visits to Kiwi ports.

Susan Bonner, vice-president and managing director, Royal Caribbean Australia and NZ, said the overall global cruise market continued to grow and New Zealand was poised to be a part of that.

"Globally, our family of cruise lines has 17 new ships on order in addition to the 40 already in operation. We can see the growth in popularity of cruising to New Zealand with 20 per cent more passengers sailing here with us last season.''