Annual net migration surges past 100,000 for first time, Kiwis leave in droves

A record number of migrants are moving to New Zealand while Kiwis leave in droves, according to the latest data released by Statistics New Zealand.    

Stats NZ data, released on Wednesday, showed New Zealand recorded a net migration gain of 110,200 in the August year

The gain is driven by annual migrant arrivals reaching an all-time high of 225,000 in the same period. This is offset by 115,100 migrants leaving - slightly below the annual record of 117,400 in the February 2012 year.   

The net migration loss of New Zealand citizens for the same period is 42,600 - just below the record loss of 44,400 in the February 2012 year. And they're mostly leaving for one place - Australia. The Stats NZ data shows in the March 2023 year, 53 percent of New Zealand citizens leaving were heading across the ditch.   

"Net migration continues to be driven by non-New Zealand citizen arrivals, with about 8 out of 9 migrants arriving on a non-New Zealand passport," population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.   

"This follows a progressive relaxation of COVID-19-related border restrictions from early 2022, as well as changes to immigration settings."    

Tourism is also seeing record highs. Stats NZ data, released on Wednesday, shows the number of visitors arriving from India has reached a record high of  70,100 in the August year.   

India is the fifth largest source of overseas visitors to New Zealand, behind Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.   

The number of visitors from India has been steadily growing with its ranking rising from 19th in 2003, to 10th  in 2013, and 9th  in 2019.   

"About 6 in 10 visitor arrivals from India came to visit friends and relatives in the August 2023 year, compared with 3 in 10 in 2003," Islam said.   

"This mirrors the growing Indian population living in New Zealand and connections with India."  

Overall, there were 206,800 overseas visitor arrivals in August 2023, or 82 percent of the pre-COVID-19 level in August 2019. By comparison, overseas visitor arrivals in August 2022 were 129,800, or 52 percent of the August 2019 level.   

About 14,000 more overseas visitors arrived from the United States in July and August 2023, compared with July-August 2019, coinciding with the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 hosted by New Zealand and Australia.   

Overseas visitor arrivals have increased following the progressive relaxation of travel restrictions from early 2022, allowing more people to cross the border. From August 1, 2022, the New Zealand border opened to all visitors and students.   

An increase in the number of international flights landing in and departing from New Zealand reflects the rebound in travel. In August 2023, 2800 flights landed in New Zealand, compared to 1900 in August 2022.

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