A record number of people are moving to New Zealand with Auckland, Canterbury and Waikato the most popular places in the country for expats.

Official figures from Statistics New Zealand show that a record 70,000 more migrants arrived than departed in the September 2016 year, which surpasses the previous annual record net gain of 69,100 migrants in the August 2016 year.

‘Most of the arrivals are people coming in with work visas, which also includes working holidaymakers. The annual net gain reflects record high migrant arrivals and fewer migrant departures,’ said population statistics manager Jo-Anne Skinner.

A breakdown of the figures show that some 32% arrived with work visas, 29% were New Zealand and Australian citizens, 20% were on student visas and 13% residence visas.

Some 75% of those who arrived to make their life in New Zealand went to Auckland, Canterbury, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, with these locations seeing their populations increase by 2.8%, 2.3%, 2.3% and 2.2% respectively.

Overall 15 of New Zealand’s 16 regions experienced growth and three quarters had greater increases than in the year to June 2015, the data also shows and not only was growth high in the big cities, but also in their surrounding areas.

The Queenstown-Lakes district overtook the Selwyn district as the fastest growing territorial authority area in the year to June, with a 7.1% population increase. Growth in Queenstown-Lakes and the greater Christchurch area accounted for about 73% of the population increase in the South Island.

Migrant departures were 55,700 in the same period, with New Zealand citizens contributing almost 60% to all migrant departures and seasonally adjusted figures showed a net gain of 6,300 migrants in September 2016, surpassing the previous peak of 6,200 in November 2015.