Market overview

Prior to COVID-19, China was New Zealand's second-largest international visitor market and one of the most valuable in terms of holiday visitor spend.

The market was undergoing a shift towards Free Independent Travellers (FIT) as Chinese become more confident about organising their own trips and seek fresh, unique experiences.

We were focused on encouraging the Chinese to travel to New Zealand outside of peak periods and to discover the variety of sights and activities available across the country.

Key insights 

  • A large number of Chinese tend to travel during Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) in February.
  • New Zealand spring is becoming increasingly popular for Chinese visitors, with significant growth over the past year.
  • Chinese travellers use of mobile payment has overtaken cash for the first time.
  • Booking tickets online is also popular in China. Airlines are increasing their online sales and online travel agents, such as Ctrip and Alitrip are aggressively developing services for independent travellers.

Marketing and trade activity

The aim of our marketing activity in China was to show Chinese travellers what there is to see and do in the less travelled regions of New Zealand and to promote the benefits of visiting in spring and autumn.

Tourism New Zealand also works with key strategic partners to drive high-value visitors to New Zealand and ensure New Zealand stays top of choice as a destination in today’s highly competitive global market.

ADS and the China Market Development Unit

Establishing a quality end-to-end travel experience is the core focus for our China Market Development Unit. In place since 2007, the team monitors the quality of tours run as part of the Approved Destination Status (ADS) programme, to ensure Chinese visitors enjoy quality holiday experiences in New Zealand, helping drive the long-term growth of this market. Find out more about ADS here.

More information

Exchange rates:

GDP growth:

For more information on the China economy view the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s China market guide.