21 Jul 2017

Immigration, tourism continuing to surge

12:36 pm on 21 July 2017

Immigration reached another record high last month and a surge in visitors for the Lions tour boosted tourist numbers.

Lions fans in Wellington

UK and Irish visitor arrivals numbered 23,400 in June. Photo: AFP

Official figures show a net migration of a record 72,300 people in the year to June; 131,400 people arrived and 59,100 left.

The biggest increases were from the United Kingdom and South Africa while India saw the largest fall in net migration gain, mainly due to fewer student visa arrivals from that country.

For the month of June, there was a seasonally-adjusted net gain of about 6400 people - the strongest since the start of the year.

"Annual net migration has been steadily increasing since late 2012 when we had more departures than arrivals," Statistics NZ population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said New Zealanders were choosing to stay put.

"The number of New Zealanders moving offshore remains very low, and we continue to see large numbers of New Zealand citizens returning from Australia.

"The net outflow of New Zealand citizens is at its lowest level since 1984 ... this accounts for half of the pick-up in net migration since 2011."

Meanwhile, a record number of tourists came here to holiday with 3.6 million people arriving in the year to June.

Last month, total overseas visitor arrivals reached 230,100, which was up nearly 33,900 (17 percent) from June 2016.

Visitor arrivals from the UK and Ireland accounted for 49 percent of the rise, with a surge from those countries for the British and Irish Lions rugby tour.

UK and Irish visitor arrivals numbered 23,400 in June 2017, up 16,700 on the previous June. That was the second-highest number for a June month ever, Mr Dolan said.

"The highest was in June 2005 when arrivals reached 28,200, which also coincided with the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand."