A record number of people are visiting New Zealand with the latest official figures showing that there were 3.82 million in the 12 months to March 2018.

It means that New Zealand has seen an increasing number of overseas visitors for the last five years, from 2.61 million in the March 2013 year. For the five years before 2013, there were around 2.5 million visitors a year.

Over the last five years most visitors have been from Australia, China, the United States, and the UK, according to the data published by Statistics New Zealand.

In the latest 12-month period the highest number of visitors were from Australia, accounting for 39% of arrivals or 1.5 million people. There were 562,700 from Sydney, 407,400 from Melbourne and 303,700 from Brisbane.

The next biggest group of arrivals was from China at 11%, followed by 9% from the United States and 7% from the UK, the data also shows.

The vast majority, some 71% or 2.72 million, arrived at Auckland airport, up from 189,700 in the 12 months to March 2017, while 554,700 arrived at Christchurch airport, up from 57,700, some 272,400 arrived at Queenstown airport, up from 30,200, and 211,600 arrived at Wellington airport, down 3,800.

However, fewer people are arriving to stay permanently. Annual net migration reached 68,000 in the year to March 2018, down 4,400 from a record level of 72,400 in the July 2017 year, but still high by historical standards.

Population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers explained that more non-New Zealand citizens are leaving but there are just as many migrants arriving as a year ago.

The number of people arriving with work visas increased by 6% to 46,300, most from the UK, France and Germany while there was a 13% fall in arrivals on residence visas which allow foreigners to live in New Zealand permanently. The number fell from 16,800 to 14,600.

The number of residence visas for people from China fell by 600 to 2,800, those for British citizens fell 500 to 1,000, while the number from India was down 300 to 1,000 and the number from the Philippines down 300 to 800.

The number of international students moving to New Zealand to study has stayed the same year on year at 23,800.