Tourism officials say New Zealand has been through its toughest year since the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.
And growth, particularly from traditional European markets, looks gloomy for 2012.
Statistics from the Ministry of Economic Development show spending by international visitors fell by 3.3% last year to $5.6 billion.
While short-term visitor arrivals were up by 2.5% to more than 2.5 million people, those travelling from Britain and the United States fell by as much as 4%.
Poor weather in many places compounded the problem.