Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the growth can only be partly attributed to Chinese New Year, which saw Chinese visitors increase 106.4 per cent in February, because growth can be seen across all key markets.
"What's really positive is the growth we are seeing out of the long-haul markets - notably this month's holiday arrivals from the USA (up 21.0 per cent) and Canada (up 4.2 per cent), UK (up 2.0 per cent) and Germany (up 0.6 per cent). These markets have been challenging for some time and it is fantastic seeing such strong results," says Kevin.
"Following the release of the first Hobbit movie and our focused marketing efforts with our '100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand' campaign, the growth we are seeing clearly shows the increased preference to travel to New Zealand.
"This increase in interest has also been seen in record traffic to our consumer site newzealand.com, with one million visits making it the biggest February month, up 37.3% on February 2012.
Growth from North America was also assisted by increased capacity on the USA and Canada routes by Air New Zealand over the summer season.
The increase from Germany continues a positive trend with arrivals being up an average of 3 per cent over the last six months compared to last year.
"While there are still challenges in the long-haul markets, with annual arrivals either flat or down year-on-year, the growth in February is really positive."
The Asian markets also showed positive growth, with Singapore up 32.2 per cent, Thailand up 16.7 per cent, Hong Kong up 144.8 per cent and China up 106.4 per cent for the month.
"The arrivals from China during the peak Chinese New Year travel period included some of the first visitors on the new Premier Kiwi Partnership itineraries. These higher-quality arrivals will have stayed longer, done more and ultimately had a better experience to share with others on their return."
The growth across all markets is seen despite 2012 being a leap year, meaning there was one less day in February 2013, when compared to 2012.
This means arrivals are approximately 3.6 per cent less than they would be if comparing months with an equal number of days.
"When we factor this in the result is actually more positive, with total annual arrivals up 1.8 per cent on 2011."