A weaker New Zealand dollar against the Chinese Yuan has helped boost spending from that booming tourist market.

Latest Government figures show the kiwi dollar fell 9 per cent against the Chinese currency in the last quarter of the year to September and that's given Chinese tourists great buying power and is one of the main reasons behind a surge in spending.

Total annual spend was up 14 per cent to more than $1.6 billion from the 453,000 tourists from China - up 11 per cent on the previous 12 months, according to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangdong province (with the cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen) remain the major points of departure for Chinese visitors to New Zealand and during summer air capacity is stepping up.


Visitors direct from Guangdong, Shanghai and Zhejiang province grew considerably for the year ended September 2018, rising 21 per cent (up 14,600), 11.3 per cent (up 7,600) and 16.3 per cent (up 3,600) respectively.

Numbers direct from China have been increasing (up 13 per cent), while those who arrive to New Zealand via Australia have decreased 3 per cent.

Arrivals from Guangdong province look set to grow further as China Southern Airlines increases capacity by 30 percent between Auckland and Guangzhou this summer, seeking to capitalise on the New Zealand China Year of Tourism next year.

The Chinese market is moving towards slightly longer trips.

The number of visitors on very short trips (of up to three days) continues to fall, down a further 4.1 per cent for the past 12 months. This is in contrast to those arriving for one to two weeks and four to six days, up 26.4 per cent and 23.3 per cent respectively.

This trend towards slightly longer term trips in the Chinese market has resulted in the median length of stay more than doubling since 2012.

MBIE says one of the reasons for the increasing median length of stay has been the large increase in the number of Chinese general visa applications to New Zealand since 2012.
This segment of the market is more associated with independent travel and longer stay trips, and continues to grow, up 19 per cent for the year ended September.

The Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa, more associated with packages and tours and shorter stay trips, has not seen the same level of increase.

The number of applications is similar to that in 2013 and is likely the main reason why the number of visitors staying up to three days has been dropping.

More than 453,000 Chinese visited New Zealand in the last year. Photo / Grant Bradley
More than 453,000 Chinese visited New Zealand in the last year. Photo / Grant Bradley

According to official figures, Chinese tourists made 130 million overseas trips in 2017 and in the first six months of 2018, Chinese visits abroad reached 71.31 million, a 15 percent increase from 2017.

Across the New Zealand industry MBIE figures show spending by international visitors increased seven per cent to $11.b for the year to September.

The ministry's manager of business and economic development, Antony Kennedy, said that was an increase of $650m on the previous year.

Average spend per visitor also grew, up four per cent to $3300.

Visitor spend from Germany showed strong growth, up 16 per cent to $572 million for the year ended September. German average spend was up 17 per cent to $5900.

"A weaker New Zealand dollar against the Euro (down nine per cent over the year) has meant European visitors' money goes further and they are able to spend more while in New Zealand," said Kennedy.