Cruise Sector

New Zealand's popularity as a cruise destination has skyrocketed in the last few years, with the sector growing five-fold in the last ten years.

With cruise ships now stopping at ports around the country, it is also a sector that has potential benefits for many regional tourism hubs. Spend by cruise passengers is largely focussed around key cruise regions, such as Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Picton, the Marlborough Sounds, Christchurch, Dunedin and Fiordland, but can also include further inland regions such as Rotorua, Waitomo and Queenstown.

The most common cruise itinerary for New Zealand is trans-Tasman, which typically starts in Sydney, taking two nights to cross the Tasman Sea and then visits Fiordland, Port Chalmers, Akaroa, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland and the Bay of Islands before returning to Australia.

Continued growth of the cruise market will rely on a cohesive approach from the New Zealand tourism industry. Some of the challenges the sector currently faces include ensuring adequate infrastructure is available for visitors, the streamlining of port of entry customs procedures, the quality of onshore excursions and passenger transportation into city centres.

The key body that oversees the development of the cruise industry in New Zealand is Cruise New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand's role

To ensure New Zealand continues to attract a growing share of the global cruise market, Tourism New Zealand is working with industry partners to improve cruise passenger experiences and product quality, to assist in discussions around infrastructure development and sector issues, and to support Cruise New Zealand in reducing the obstacles for cruise lines visiting our part of the world.

With the increasing importance and potential of the cruise industry, Tourism New Zealand has also taken a larger role in marketing New Zealand as a cruise destination internationally, including the addition of a Cruise hub on

In order to increase the number of cruise ships coming to New Zealand each year, cruise lines must be convinced of New Zealand's value as a destination. This is where Tourism New Zealand's knowledge of New Zealand's key tourism markets can be put to good use.

The Tourism 2025 National Framework has identified for the first time the immense importance the cruise industry contributes to the total tourism industry. If cruise was a country of residence it would now rank 3rd behind China as a source of international visitors. Tourism 2025 outlines key initiatives for supporting the growth of the industry and how to target for value.

 (Data source: Economic Impact of the New Zealand Cruise Sector - 2016; Cruise New Zealand).