Visitors from China led a jump in Asian arrivals through Auckland International Airport in November, confirming Government figures that show New Zealand is becoming a more popular destination as airlines add capacity.
International passengers rose 6.3 percent in November from a year earlier to 707,047, the airport company said. Visitors from China jumped about 34 percent to 34,001, Indian visitors climbed about 29 percent to 4930 and South Koreans rose 19 percent to 5057. Japanese visitors rose about 15 percent to 7330.
Returning Kiwis, the biggest source of international arrivals at Auckland Airport, rose 5.5 percent to 148,584 and Australians rose 2.3 percent to 66,573. US arrivals rose 2.1 percent to 18,810 and those from the UK were unchanged at 15,029.
Government figures showed visitor numbers rose 9 percent to a record 3.09 million in the 12 months ended Nov. 30, with Chinese visitors jumping by 87,400 to 344,900.
Among new services, Air China and Air New Zealand this month had the inaugural flight of their alliance service between Beijing and Auckland. China Eastern Airlines began a seasonal Shanghai-to-Auckland service in December last year.
China's share of tourism spending in New Zealand is forecast to rise to almost 24 percent in 2021 from 14 percent in 2014, according to a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment forecast.
Domestic passenger movements through Auckland Airport rose 9.1 percent to 665,066 last month.
In October, the airport company told shareholders that it planned capital spending of between $230 million and $260 million in the 2016 financial year, as it upgrades and expands terminal and airfield capacity for passengers and airlines. It was expecting its busiest-ever summer season, chief executive Adrian Littlewood said.
Auckland Airport shares rose 0.3 percent to $5.325 and have gained about 26 percent this year.