Elton John is heading back to New Zealand for what he promises will be his most extensive Kiwi tour ever - before he retires from touring for good.

The music superstar announced his retirement this morning, saying he hopes to go out "with a bang" as he embarks on a final, epic tour.

The Farewell Yellow Brick Tour will see John hit the road for three years, coming to New Zealand in December 2019.

"I've had a good run, I think you'd admit that," the singer told media. He added that he wanted to "leave people thinking, 'I saw the last tour and it was fantastic'."

Elton John last performed in NZ in 2015.
Elton John last performed in NZ in 2015.

The 70-year-old singer, pianist and composer said he wanted to spend time with his family. His children will be 10 and 8 when he stops and he hoped he might be able to take them to soccer practice. "My priorities now are my children and my husband and my family," he said. "This is the end."

John made the announcement at an event in New York in which he sat at a piano and performed Tiny Dancer and I'm Still Standing. He wore his signature glasses and a colorful suit jacket that read Gucci loves Elton.

At the Grammy Awards, to be presented in New York on Sunday (Monday NZ time), John will perform alongside Miley Cyrus and will collect the President's Merit Award. His Vegas residency ends in May after six years.

John, whose hits include Your Song and Candle in the Wind, has won five Grammys, an Oscar and a Golden Globe for The Lion King, a Tony Award for Aida and received a Kennedy Center Honor. He has sold 300 million records.

John launched his first tour in 1970 and boasts having performed over 4,000 times in more than 80 countries. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

He has suffered several medical setbacks of late, including a bacterial infection last year that he contracted during a South American tour and an E. coli bacterial infection in 2009. He's also suffered appendicitis and has been fitted with a pacemaker.

From 1970-76, John released 10 original studio albums and seven consecutive chart-toppers. He remained a hitmaker over the following four decades, from The Lion King soundtrack song Can You Feel the Love Tonight to a revision of his Marilyn Monroe ode Candle in the Wind, released in 1997 after the death of John's friend Princess Diana and one of the best-selling singles of all time.

- additional reporting from AP