Border crossings at highest level since travel restrictions introduced

The number of border crossings in April was the highest since the Government introduced travel restrictions in March 2020, but still far below what pre-pandemic figures.

According to StatsNZ, there were 266,700 border crossings in April this year - 125,100 arrivals and 141,600 departures. Provisional data available for May is even higher, with 169,042 arrivals and 175,727 departures. 

Since travel restrictions were introduced in March 2020 to stem the spread of COVID-19 into the country, border crossings dropped to a low of 15,900 in May 2020 and had a brief high of 189,500 in May 2021 when the trans-Tasman bubble opened for a short period. 

"Border restrictions have been relaxed in recent months, which has contributed to the increase in border crossings in April 2022. Easter and school holidays in April also boosted travel volumes," StatsNZ population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.

But it's still well down on April 2019 - before the pandemic - when there were 1.2 million border crossings.

Border crossings are made up of three categories - visitors from overseas making short-term trips, New Zealand residents making short-term trips, and people changing their country of residence.

Of the arrivals into New Zealand in April, 54,300 were overseas visitors and 80 percent were from Australia, followed by the United Kingdom (4 percent) and the United States (3 percent). 

"Almost 60 percent of overseas visitor arrivals in April 2022 were New Zealand citizens, making a trip here from their country of residence, which was mainly Australia," Islam said.

"New Zealand citizens have typically been the largest single group of overseas visitor arrivals since COVID-19 border and travel restrictions were introduced in March 2020."

The main reason overseas visitors were coming to New Zealand in April was to visit friends and relatives (80 percent), followed by holidays (9 percent) and business (6 percent). 

The 64,700 New Zealand residents returning from an overseas trip in April was the highest since the border restrictions were introduced. More than half were returning from Australia, followed by the Cook Islands, Fiji and India. 

There's been a net migration loss of 8700 in the year ending in April 2022 - 46,500 arrivals and 55,200 departures - compared to 2800 in the year ending in April 2021. 

"The net migration loss of 8700 in the April 2022 year was driven by a net loss of 8900 non-New Zealand citizens, which more than offset a small net gain of 200 New Zealand citizens.

"This continues a reversal of historical patterns. New Zealand has usually had an annual net migration gain of non-New Zealand citizens and an annual net migration loss of New Zealand citizens."