Australians flock to Queenstown as visitor numbers boom

Australians continue to flock to Queenstown, the only part of the country to see real trans-Tasman tourist growth post-COVID-19.

Visitor numbers have been recovering across the country but in Queenstown they're booming.

Our southern alpine resort town is fair dinkum, according to our closest neighbours.

Thousands fly in every day. They say it's beautiful, affordable, and accessible.

"It's easy for us, without having to get a visa and things like that," one told Newshub.

"We've seen really strong growth and that's in part due to Virgin Australia back online here into Queenstown," Queenstown Airport CEO Glen Sowry said.

It's the only Kiwi town Virgin has resumed flying to, so now four airlines are coming into the airport from Australia.

Last year alone the number of Australians visiting New Zealand was up nearly 20 percent on the year before.

"That's some really good growth to see our Australian friends coming in and enjoying Queenstown," said Destination Queenstown CEO Mat Woods.

"A genuine world-class destination. All activities - whether it's skiing, all of the other activities you can do here - incredibly popular to people from all around the world," Sowry said.

The Australians love Queenstown and Queenstown loves them back as they are high-contributing tourists meaning they stay longer, they go further, they give back - and they come back.

Destination Queenstown works hard on the Australian market.

"The Australian market is the most important international market for us so we've been working for decades promoting Queenstown and letting them know we're a true four-season resort," Woods said.

The airport is now planning an expansion, which Sowry said "will really set Queenstown Airport up to be able to cater to growth for decades to come".

The once buoyant Chinese market has been slower to bounce back but there is an upsurge in Indian tourists.

But for our neighbours, there is a place like home.

"Relationship between Australia and New Zealand has always been strong, almost like a second home," one Aussie told Newshub.

A home away from home in the snowy Southern Alps.