Tourists with Visa cards increased spending in New Zealand by 15 per cent to $3.4 billion last year, with the biggest precentage rise in restaurant spending.
They spent $284 million on restaurants last year, up 27 per cent on the 2016.
Shopping and retail is the highest category - up 8 per cent to $384m, followed by lodging, up 12 per cent to $333m
This includes spend by visitors in New Zealand, as well as those buying from New Zealand businesses online.
Visa country manager for New Zealand and South Pacific Marty Kerr said the spending showed there was plenty of opportunity for New Zealand businesses to better understand how to get a share of international visitor spend and drive future growth.
The 10 highest inbound spend markets - topped by Australia, the United States and China - didn't change from 2016, but all of them increased the amount they spent in 2016.
Combined they represent 85 per cent of total spend by cardholders while in New Zealand.
Visa's principal economist for Asia Pacific Glenn Maguire said with an increase in long-haul routes making New Zealand more accessible it was important to consider the demographic profile of tourists from Europe and the United States.
This group was ''ageing active'' who were willing to venture further and were attracted by New Zealand's natural beauty and world-class food and wine.
''As we head into the 2018/19 peak season, the challenge for all of us, in business, government and tourism - is to find ways to ensure that New Zealand is top of the bucket list,'' he said.
The report highlights the positive impact that major events have on international visitor spend.
The Lion's Rugby Tour was held during the off-peak visitor season of June and July, yet the amount spent by visitors from Britain and Ireland nearly doubled when compared to the same time the year before.
This was an increase of 88 per cent in June 2017 to $11.43 million, and an increase of 93 per cent in July 2017 to $12.36m.
Kerr said this supported the Government's strategy of attracting major events for the benefit of the economy and bodes well for hosting the America's Cup in 2021.