The number of visitors from Australia rose 20% in July compared with the same month a year ago, helping offset a lower number of people from Europe and Asia choosing to visit the country.
Overall, the number of overseas visitors was down 3% for the 12 months to the end of July.
But signs of a revival are evident in an increase in visitor numbers during three of the last four months compared with the same months a year ago.
In July, 500 more tourists arrived in New Zealand than in July 2008 despite big falls in the number of visitors from Asia, the United Kingdom and Europe.
Statistics New Zealand says the July increase was due to 15,800 more Australian visitors.
ASB economists say the rise reflects Australia's robust economic health, despite the financial crisis.
NZSki chief executive James Coddington says he has noticed a big jump in the number of Australia tourists coming to ski.
Mr Coddington says Queenstown is the most popular destination, with many first-time visitors choosing Coronet Peak over skifields in Aspen, Colorado.
Fewer New Zealanders leave country
The number of people living in New Zealand has increased again, as fewer people leave the country for greener pastures
Statistics New Zealand figures show the number of people leaving New Zealand permanently or long term decreased by 1,900 in July, including 1,500 fewer departures to Australia and 200 fewer to the United Kingdom.
It is the sixth consecutive month that permanent or long term departures have fallen by at least 1,000 when compared with the same month of the previous year.
ASB Bank chief economist Nick Tuffley says population increase benefits retail spending and the housing market.
He expects permanent departures from New Zealand to pick up again when the recession ends.
In the year to July, the country gained 14,500 people, up from 5,200 in the previous 12 months. The growth was mainly due to fewer departures.