Lonely Planet Writer

Chinese holidaymakers head to New Zealand in record numbers

New Zealand tourism chiefs are predicting a major spin-off to Chinese New Year with visitors from that country expected to rise by 30% in February compared to the same month last year.

Performers participate in a lion dance at Ditan Park to mark the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing.
Performers participate in a lion dance at Ditan Park to mark the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing. Image by AP Photo/Andy Wong

During the celebrations, six million Chinese are taking holidays to various destinations around the world, with more and more heading to New Zealand’s shores.  Tourism New Zealand chief executive, Kevin Mowler said they believe about 70,000 Chinese visitors will arrive around the month of the Chinese New Year this February. While neighbours Australia continue to be number one in terms of visitors to New Zealand on an annual basis, for many tour operators, China has become their major player.

Singapore Airlines is now flying more regularly into Christchurch Airport
Singapore Airlines is now flying more regularly into Christchurch Airport Image by Aero Icarus / CC BY 2.0

This is reflected in the comments of Richard Lauder, Real Journey’s chief executive, who pointed to the fact that they have 30 Mandarin-speaking staff within their organisation. A major benefit this year is that Christchurch Airport now has a new link with southern China – direct flights three times a week from Guangzhou. There are also China Airlines flights from Taipei as well a significant increase in services with Singapore Airlines, according to Christchurch International Airport’s Justin Watson. Those flights will see up to 50,000 Chinese tourists landing in New Zealand during this month alone. It is estimated that those tourists will spend between $300-$400 million during their stay.