The number of visitors to New Zealand has passed the 3.5 million mark with total arrivals up 11% for the year ending January 2017. The number of holiday arrivals rose up-to 15% in the previous 12 months.

The Statistics New Zealand results released, showed that this peak season is on track to be the biggest ever with December 2016 arrivals also a record for the month.

Leading the way were holiday arrivals from Australia up by nine percent, China up by 13% and USA up by 24%. Two key markets are also on the cusp of significant new markers with Germany just 528 visitors away from reaching 100,000 for the year and USA nearly at 300,000 visitors.

“It’s great to see important markets such as Germany and the USA getting close to big targets. They are high spending visitors who tend to get around the country more than many others,” said Tourism New Zealand’s Acting Chief Executive, Brighid Kelly.

Kelly said that the numbers show just how popular New Zealand has become as a destination. “This is fantastic result for our industry. International tourism is incredibly competitive. Such a successful year shows how desirable New Zealand is as a destination and how powerful our brand is. While we are pleased to see such a successful peak season, Tourism New Zealand is focussed on getting tourists to visit in the shoulder seasons to spread visitation year-round,” she added.

Tourism New Zealand is currently running shoulder season campaigns to encourage visitors to arrive in the autumn and is running its first region-specific campaign for Northland.