A record number of overseas visitors arrived in New Zealand in December 2011, the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand show.
And those leaving exceeded those arriving by 500 people. This means that net losses have been recorded in nine of the 10 months since the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch.
There were 364,200 visitor arrivals in December 2011, the highest recorded for any month and more than 5% higher than the previous high of 345,700 that month.
The increase in visitors was mainly due to 14,200 more arrivals to visit friends and relatives, with New Zealand citizens providing 8,400 of this increase. Holiday arrivals were up 2,100 and arrivals for conferences and conventions were up 1,200.
By country, there were more visitors from Australia, China, Singapore, and Malaysia, but fewer from the United Kingdom. Most of the increase from China was from people staying three days or less. Visitors from the United Kingdom have decreased in most months since April 2007.
Visitor arrivals in the December 2011 year were 2.601 million, up 3% from 2010. This is the first time annual visitor numbers have passed 2.6 million.
Unadjusted figures showed 1,100 more departures of New Zealand citizens compared with December 2010, including 900 more to Australia. There were also 500 fewer arrivals of New Zealand citizens.
New Zealand had a net loss of 1,900 migrants in the December 2011 year. This is the largest net loss since the August 2001 year.
In 2011, there was a net loss of 36,900 people to Australia, the highest ever recorded. There were 51,100 departures to Australia, offset by 14,200 arrivals from Australia. In both directions, most migrants were New Zealand citizens.
There were net gains of migrants from most other countries, led by the United Kingdom with 5,500, India with 4,900, and China with 4,700 in the December 2011 year.
A number of major events affected visitor arrivals in 2011, including the Canterbury earthquakes, flight disruptions due to volcanic ash, and the Rugby World Cup.