Our Other Websites

Massive year for sport boosting international visitor numbers

This year kicks off a huge year for New Zealand hosting world class sporting events that will attract tens of thousands of international visitors to New Zealand.


There are major events being held just about every month. These are just some of the 2017 sporting highlights that will draw big crowds from overseas:

  • The World Masters Games – regarded as the largest event New Zealand will host in at least the next decade – 25,000 participants plus supporters from around the world, with most of the international visitors from Australia.

  • The DHL New Zealand Lions Series – a highlight on rugby’s global calendar, held only once every 12 years – 20,000 fans expected, mostly from the UK.

  • Three world class golf tournaments including the first LPGA tour event hosted in New Zealand. Biggest golf fans are from Australia, USA, China, and Japan.

  • The Audi Quattro Winter Games NZ - one of the top five winter sports events in the world set in Queenstown with a backdrop of the spectacular Southern Alps.

  • The Rugby League World Cup - co-hosted by New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. Games in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Wellington.

  • Crankworx- Attracting some of the world’s top mountain bikers for five days of competition and concerts.

  • Air NZ’s increasingly popular Queenstown and Hawke’s Bay international marathons.

Sport is a big part of New Zealand life. New Zealanders play it, watch it and support it. We have a proud history of hosting major sporting events and part of that is ensuring that competitors, their fans, family and supporters have a great experience in New Zealand.

We want the sports visitors to leave New Zealand having experienced great kiwi hospitality, taking home some great memories, sharing those memories with friends and families and, ideally, wanting to come back to see more.  

 At Tourism New Zealand we are putting all our efforts into attracting people to visit outside of the peak season and for visitors to visit more regions while they are here.  These sporting events are spread throughout the year which means we can show New Zealand as a destination for all seasons.

The events are also being held right across the country, providing more opportunities to get visitors to see more of New Zealand.

The major sporting events will attract visitors from a variety of our key markets. The World Masters Games will be most popular with Australians while the vast majority of visitors for the Lions tour will be coming from the UK.  

Tourism New Zealand is also working with other agencies to help make sure that the visitors have a safe as well as memorable experience here. We will continue to provide information for international visiting drivers to ensure they know about the differences of driving in New Zealand and provide them with information about what they need to know.

Accommodation will be at a premium in some cases but New Zealand is experienced in supporting the demands of major international events. The advice from the experts is to book early, call on family and friends for accommodation and check out all the forms of accommodation available.

For a sports mad country like New Zealand, it’s going to be a great year. Let‘s make sure our visitors have an excellent experience, whatever the sports results.  

This article first appeared in Inside Tourism

Keep up to date with news about tourism by signing up for our fortnightly e-newsletter.

René de Monchy

Director of Trade, PR & Major Events