The New Zealand Herald's readership is soaring in print and online - with newspaper readership returning to 2014 levels, according to new statistics released today.

Daily print readership of the Herald is up 11 per cent on the previous quarter and up 8 per cent year-on-year - now at 459,000 readers each day.

The Weekend Herald's readership, according to latest Nielsen data, has surged to 515,000 people - the first time since June 2014 it has been over the half-million mark.

And the Herald on Sunday has extended its lead over its nearest rival, the Sunday Star Times - the HoS now has 359,000 readers, 95,000 ahead of the SST.

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Kiwis are also spending big chunks of their weekend reading these two papers - on average people spend 49 minutes on a Saturday poring through the Weekend Herald, and 44 minutes with the Herald on Sunday.

Daily print and digital brand audience for nzherald.co.nz has soared to a record 1.051 million people; and weekly audience has lifted to 1.668 million, also a record high.

NZME's regional newspapers Hawke's Bay Today, Northern Advocate and Rotorua Daily Post have all recorded increases while the Wanganui Chronicle and Bay of Plenty Times are stable.

Readers are also continuing to flock to the Herald's stories on social media - with the company's Facebook page reaching an average of 843,000 users a day.

NZME managing editor Shayne Currie says the readership growth shows New Zealanders value premium journalism and that newspapers continue to play a valuable and essential role in people's lives.

"We have a fantastic team of editors and journalists who do an outstanding job producing top-level content across all platforms. It's very easy for a typical media business to focus on one or two platforms - the beauty of NZME is we're building audiences and producing our journalism on all levels, including print, digital, social, radio and video.

"There's even more exciting times ahead, as we fully focus on expanding our premium journalism, and building a deeply engaged audience."

All of the Herald magazines also registered big readership increases - Bite, Travel, Viva, TimeOut, The Business, Canvas, Weekend and Spy.

The Herald's digital platforms have experienced strong growth over the last year. Photo/File.
The Herald's digital platforms have experienced strong growth over the last year. Photo/File.

NZME chief commercial officer Matt Headland says the strong engagement across the Herald and magazines gives advertisers the luxury of being able to speak directly to their audience.

"The growth we have seen in print over this survey gives our advertisers the confidence that their message will reach the right audience. The growth of different publications within the NZME wheelhouse helps us create multi-platform campaigns when combined with NZME's radio and digital offering, meaning our clients can make sure every dollar has the highest return possible."