The figures released today by Statistics New Zealand paint a positive picture heading into the summer season, with total holiday arrivals up 6.2 per cent for the same period.
Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says, "The industry has seen a stellar year of growth which we expect to see continue through the summer months."
Overall growth has been supported by strong holiday arrivals from Asian markets including China (10.4 per cent), Singapore (up 15.0 per cent) and Korea (up 3.0 per cent).
Holiday arrivals from Japan are also back in growth, up 2.1 per cent.
Western markets continue to perform well with holiday arrivals from Germany, the US and the UK all in growth for the year, up 16.7 per cent, 12.7 per cent, and 2.9 per cent respectively.
New Zealand cemented its status as a 'must visit' destination in the UK earlier in December when it was voted best country in the 2014 Daily Telegraph Travel Awards.
With almost 90,000 people responding to the survey it is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - tourism reader survey in the world.
"This award is a significant achievement and signals the current popularity of New Zealand in the UK," says Kevin.
Tourism New Zealand's priority emerging markets are performing well with arrivals from India up an impressive 20.9 per cent, Brazil up 20.7 per cent and Indonesia up 8.4 per cent year-on-year.
"Air New Zealand announced plans last week to begin flying direct to Buenos Aires from December 2015 which will open up exciting new opportunities from Latin America."
"December has seen Tourism New Zealand further leverage The Hobbit franchise to position New Zealand as the home of Middle-earth, which has easily been our largest, and most successful piece of work in recent memory.
"And we just need to look at the numbers to know how hard it has worked for New Zealand," says Kevin.
There has been a 52 per cent increase in visitor arrivals since The Lord of the Rings films. In 2000 New Zealand received 1.78 million visitors for the year, while by 2013 that had increased to 2.71 million.
In the last year, 16 per cent (1 in 6) of holiday visitors from the US and Germany said The Hobbit was one of the reasons they chose to come to New Zealand. For all markets, this is 13 per cent - or over 1 in 10 holiday visitors.
"Casting a spotlight on New Zealand and showcasing the country as the real Middle-earth has been the work of TNZ and other major operators such as Air New Zealand for the past three years, and clearly, that connection is resonating in our key markets," says Kevin.
"It has been a great year of growth and we look forward to seeing the ongoing impacts of this activity as we head into the high season."
Contact Georgina Maguire, Communications Advisor, Tourism New Zealand | firstname.lastname@example.org | phone +64 21 478 659