New Zealand is more popular than ever for expats, new data shows

by Ray Clancy on February 1, 2016

More people are visiting New Zealand than ever before and those choosing to live and work in the country are led by Indians, Australians and Chinese, the latest data shows.

Visitor arrivals reached 444,900 in December 2015, the highest ever monthly figure and the biggest increase was in visitors from China, up 11,000 or 43% from December 2014, according to the figures from Statistics New Zealand.

“The previous record of 402,500, set in December 2014, was easily surpassed this month. This was mainly driven by a 17% increase in arrivals of holiday makers,” said population statistics manager Jo-Anne Skinner.



There were more people arriving on student and work visas, suggesting that those going to New Zealand plan to stay for some time. Student visas were up 5,000 to 27,900 and work visas were up 4.500 to 37,800.

Most of the student arrivals were from India at 10,800, an increase of 28% from the December 2014 year, followed by China at 5,300, and the Philippines at 2,100.The biggest sources of people arriving on work visas in the December 2015 year were the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and Germany. Arrivals on work visas increased 14% from the December 2014 year. Arrivals on work visas include working holiday makers.

Another 14,100 migrants arrived on residence visas. Most migrants gain New Zealand residence after, rather than before, arrival. Many arrive on temporary visas and transfer to a residence visa after spending time in New Zealand.

All regions had a net gain of international migrants in the December 2015 year, led by Auckland at 30,000, Canterbury 6,800, Waikato 2,600, Wellington 2,400, and Bay of Plenty 2,100.

The net gain in migration for the Auckland region was 7,000 higher in 2015 than 2014. The increase was driven by migrant arrivals into Auckland rising by 14% coupled with a slight fall of 3% in departures compared with the December 2014 year.

Unadjusted figures showed a record net gain of 64,900 migrants in the December 2015 year. The annual gain in migrants has set new records for the last 17 months. Both more arrivals and fewer departures drove the increased net gain of migrants, the data shows.

Migrant arrivals at 121,900 continued to reach a new high, up 12% from the December 2014 year while migrant departures at 57,000 were down 2%.

The increase in migrant arrivals was led by India, up 3,200 to 14,500, Australia up 2,000 to 25,300, China up 1,500 to 11,000 and the Philippines up 1,500 to 5,400 and the increase in arrivals from Australia was for both New Zealand citizens and non-New Zealand citizens.

The fall in migrant departures was due to fewer New Zealand citizens leaving for Australia. Departures of New Zealand citizens to Australia fell by 2,600 or 11%.

Annual net gains from Australia continued to increase with 800 migrants in the December 2015 year. This was the highest net gain since the October 1991 year and the third month in a row to show an annual net gain of migrants from Australia.

New Zealand recorded net gains of migrants from most other countries in the December 2015 year were led by India at 13,300, China 8,900, the Philippines 5,100 and the United Kingdom at 3,600.

In the December 2015 year, visitor arrivals reached a record 3.13 million, up 10% from the previous year. Australia contributed 1.33 million visitors, China 355,900, and the United States 243,100.

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