The Ministry of Economic Development predicts that Chinese tourists will be spending more in New Zealand than visitors from both Britain and the United States by the middle of next year.
That means China will become the country's second biggest tourism market.
In its forecast to 2016 the ministry says it expects Australia to stay New Zealand's biggest tourism market by a considerable margin.
It predicts Australian tourists will generate $1.9 billion in spending in 2016.
The ministry says the Christchurch earthquake has had a significant impact on the South Korean and Japanese markets, while Malaysian arrivals have increased significantly because of new airline connections.