Chinese tourism to NZ to get a boost with new deals

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his entourage are the latest Chinese visitors to New Zealand and a symbol of what's to come - a huge tourism drive to lure big-spending Chinese nationals down under.

A deal signed on Monday will see multiple-entry visas for Chinese visitors extended from the current three-year limit to five years. Chinese passport holders will now be allowed to use SmartGates at the border and an extra 11 direct weekly flights have been approved.

The Government wants to increase Chinese spending here by $1.7 billion by 2019, which has been dubbed the Year of Tourism.

Premier Li has been assured New Zealand can handle the influx.

"Prime Minister [Bill] English told me you do not need to worry about the overflow of Chinese tourists, all of them are welcome here," he said.

That may see bigger roads built.

"They will build motorways to facilitate and welcome Chinese tourists," Premier Li said.

Infrastructure itself was another big focus.

New Zealand has signed a deal to cooperate and support China's flagship One Belt, One Road initiative, which aims to connect China to the world with land and maritime highways.

"We hope it underpins the opportunity for New Zealand firms to take part in what, by international standards, is a pretty large infrastructure investment," Mr English said.

"Pretty large" means a multitrillion-dollar transport network around the globe, building roads, railways and ports in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Premier Li is the one who's pushing China's infrastructure investment project, and now it seems it's New Zealand's turn.

Several projects on the table could be similar to a deal signed last week between Northland Regional Council and China Rail.

Newshub understands one of the proposals is for a four-lane tolled motorway linking Whangarei to NorthPort and Marsden Point Oil Refinery.

There's also talk of extending the Northland Rail Line out the port as well, but it's all top secret, with no one wanting to discuss it.

But Monday's agreements mean it'll be much easier for China to spend up on big on infrastructure projects in New Zealand.