International visitors spent $9.7 billion in New Zealand last year, a 31 percent increase on 2014.
Major tourism markets drove the results, the government's latest survey shows.
Spending by visitors from China was up 63 percent to $1.6b and the United States up 40 percent to $1b.
Australians continued to make up the largest market, with spending up 19 percent to $2.4b.
Individually, visitors from all countries spent an average $3440.
Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett says the figures confirm the sector's focus on increasing value and volume is working.
"New Zealand has already celebrated a record three million visitors in 2015 and the industry is now our second largest export earner," she said.
"It's now worth $10.6b, or nearly five percent of our GDP, and one in every eight people employed are now directly or indirectly related to tourism."