Getting away from busloads of their fellow citizens is top of wish list for high value and independent tourists.

A Chinese tour operator warns New Zealand has to be careful about the mix of visitors it attracts from China.

Kate Deng, who has a client base of 10,000 in China, says high-value free and independent travellers don't want to see busloads of Chinese when they're travelling here.

"They don't want to see so many Chinese when they're travelling - it's not a taste of New Zealand. You need balance. When people travel they don't want to see Chinese," she said.

"I want to send them to the place where they experience local cultures - they see different things and they don't want it to be like it is in China."


She founded Kate Travel three years ago and the number of small groups she has arranged trips for here has soared through the use of social media.

"I very strongly believe we don't want everyone - we want the customer who wants to spend time in New Zealand.

China is New Zealand's second largest visitor market. Its growing middle class has seen sustained growth in Chinese visitor arrivals to New Zealand over the last five years.

In the year to the end of April the total number of arrivals from China soared by 29 per cent to 390,000.

Increased air capacity from the two direct carriers, China Southern Airlines and Air New Zealand - with new players Air China and China Eastern also establishing year-round services last year - has helped this trend. Air New Zealand's Shanghai service has also benefited from using a new aircraft.

Deng said Chinese should stay a minimum of 12-14 days in New Zealand. "If it's just seven days don't come," she said on the sidelines of the Trenz tourist industry event in Rotorua earlier this month.

Kate Deng. Photo / Stephen Parker
Kate Deng. Photo / Stephen Parker

She said free and independent travellers from China were getting increasingly adventurous, now doing skydiving and bungy jumping in growing numbers.

Other popular attractions were an alpaca farm near Akaroa - where she booked 450 people last year who each paid $40 for the visit - and boat trips off Kaikoura where they got a freshly caught fish at the end of the voyage.


Chinese tourists were also getting to more far-flung places such as Golden Bay and the Bay of Islands.

Her groups were typically four to six-strong and attracted through social media and a network of representatives in China, most of whom had travelled with her company.

She worked for an i-SITE in Christchurch and realised there was a shortage of information about New Zealand in China.

Deng said she also quizzed her clients on their driving history if they wanted to rent cars here.

"We had lots of problems in the first year. This year we had a lot less."