The number of overseas visitors arriving in this country for short term stays topped 2.5 million for the first time in the year to June, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) says.
A 4 percent rise in visitors from a year earlier to 2,501,000 was helped by an 8 percent lift to 145,800 in visitors from overseas in the month of June.
Last month's figure was the second-highest for a June month, behind only 2005 when numbers were boosted by the British and Irish Lions rugby tour, SNZ said today.
Visitor arrivals from Australia in June were up 7 percent from a year earlier to 76,200, while combined arrivals from China, Japan and Korea were up 6900 or 86 percent after the H1N1 pandemic affected numbers travelling from those countries in June 2009.
But while the 5500 visitors from China last month were similar in number to the average for June months between 2006 and 2008 -- before the H1N1 outbreak -- arrivals from Japan and Korea were still well below June 2008 levels, SNZ said.
Visitor numbers from Britain were the lowest for a June month since 2000, down 1100 or 13 percent from a year ago, while those from the United States were the lowest in a June month since 1999, dropping 1000 or 8 percent.
The annual figure of 2.5m visitors was almost reached in 2008, but the global financial crisis intervened after a peak in visitor numbers of 2.497m in the March 2008 year.
In the June 2010 year visitors from Australia were 11 percent up on a year earlier at 1.12m, accounting for 45 percent of all visitors, SNZ said. Numbers from Britain were down 5 percent to 248,900.
The number of New Zealand residents leaving on short term overseas trips was up 13 percent last month from a year earlier to 198,800. For the year numbers were up 3 percent to 1.97m.