A 38% jump in the annual number of Chinese touching down in New Zealand has seen the world's most populous nation topple the UK as NZ's second-biggest pool for visitors, though still well behind Australia.
There were some 194,752 short-term Chinese arrivals in the 12 months ended November 30, up from 141,289 a year earlier and 1200,222 in 2010, according to Statistics New Zealand.
That trumped the 191,360 British short-term visitors, which fell an annual 17 percent, though is still dwarfed by the 1.16 million Australian visitors.
"Arrivals from China have grown dramatically in the last 20 years, from only 3,300 in 1992," says population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn.
"In contrast, visitor numbers from the United Kingdom have been declining for the last five years."
The rising number of Chinese visitors comes as New Zealand draws closer with the rising economic powerhouse, with local businesses looking to do more in the world's second-biggest economy and the government beginning to reap the benefits from signing a free trade agreement with China in 2008.
About 71% of Chinese visitors in the November year came for a holiday, with 12% visiting friends or family, and 10% coming to do business.
Today's figures showed the number of short-term arrivals to New Zealand rose 0.8% to 232,119 in November from the same month a year earlier, underpinned by more Chinese and Australian visitors.
Long-term net migration increased by a seasonally adjusted 600 in November, with a net outflow of 1,600 in the year.
Kiwis continued to quit New Zealand for Australia, with 3,810 citizens departing in November, and 920 coming back. Some 48,561 New Zealanders left the country for Australia on an annual basis, with 9,499 coming back, for a net outflow of 39,062.
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