The number of New Zealanders travelling around the country could surge in January, according to new modelling on tourism recovery.
Tourism New Zealand's future tourism recovery modelling shows the number of Kiwis taking a domestic holiday may jump to 118 per cent on January this past year.
And if transtasman borders were to open by a "pragmatic estimate" of January 2021, Australian visitors could expand the economy by $1 billion by September next year, the government agency says.
There will be some steps to reopen transtasman travel at the end of this week, as New South Wales and the Northern Territory allowing New Zealanders to travel there quarantine-free.
Although those coming into New Zealand have to isolate for 14 days at the moment, the Government is working with Australia and the Cook Islands on full quarantine-free bubbles.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall said although there are current uncertainties that will dictate whether recovery takes one year or three, the modelling shows demand back at 2019 levels by December 2022, assuming unconstrained supply.
"If we have visibility of these variables, we can take action to influence them to have positive outcomes for the country's economic recovery, like the work we are doing to encourage domestic tourism."
The latest Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment domestic visitor spend data from across New Zealand shows that Kiwis are supporting New Zealand's economic recovery by exploring their own country and doing something new.
"Although August domestic visitor spend remained flat compared with last year, given Aucklanders were unable to travel for a large part of the month, it is actually is an incredibly encouraging result."
Domestic visitation in the July school holiday period grew across all regions, in some cases by up to 50 per cent compared to the previous year, and the September school holidays will likely see a similar increase, England-Hall said.
Pre-Covid, domestic tourism accounted for 60 per cent of tourism's $40.9b contribution to the New Zealand economy. New Zealanders previously spent $9b on overseas travel per year.
"We're working hard to encourage domestic tourism and capturing this spend will be critical to the sector's recovery," England-Hall said.
Before the pandemic, Australia made up the biggest number of visitors to New Zealand and spent more than $2.7b a year, half of that by holidaymakers.
The modelling drew on work by Treasury, the Reserve Bank and Westpac.