Permanent and long-term international migration to New Zealand is at its highest level in more than 25 years and many newcomers are opting to settle in the regions.

The country had a net gain of 69,954 people as a result of permanent and long-term migration in the year to September, according to Statistics New Zealand figures.

That was the highest net gain in more than 25 years and up on 61,234 last year and 45,414 the previous one.

Several regional areas experienced their highest net migration in 25 years including Rotorua, Whanganui, Northland, Hawke's Bay and Tauranga.


Multicultural Council Rotorua president Waitsu Wu said migration benefited the country and its economy by creating more job opportunities, more tourist infrastructure and enriching the community through cultural diversity.

Most migrants previously settled in bigger cities such as Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Wellington. However, the recent housing crisis in the bigger cities had resulted in migrants starting to move to nearby cities, she said.

South African Wendy Wilkins and her family arrived in Rotorua in January.

She said she and her husband Juan were in the hospitality business so job opportunities in Rotorua were vast.

She said Rotorua was a diverse place. As well as its traditional Maori culture, people from all over the world lived there, which was great for her children.

"My son manages to say about 20 words in about five different languages," she said.

"He can say 'hello' and 'goodbye' and 'what's your name' in Chinese, Japanese, Russian."

Vijeshwar Prasad, president of the Multicultural Council of Rangitikei/Wanganui, said he'd seen a gradual increase in new migrants to Whanganui.

A Government initiative offering bonus points towards residency for migrants living in the regions was encouraging people to move out of Auckland, said Mr Prasad. Colonel Jatinder Pal Bangia and his wife Neelain Bangia came to Whanganui from India to be closer to their family.

Colonel Bangia said he'd come to New Zealand several times before as both of his sons were citizens of the country.

He was settled in India but missed his children and grandchildren and was losing contact with them so he and his wife decided to make the move to New Zealand.

Colonel Bangia said Whanganui was a beautiful, quiet place with natural beauty. "The people are warm, they are approachable, they are kind hearted and very helpful."

NZ Association for Migration and Investment chief executive June Ranson said the cost of housing in Auckland would have been part of the reason for the increase in migration to the regions.

The regions were developing, more work was becoming available and people had more money to spend.