Market overview

China is New Zealand's second-largest international visitor market and one of the most valuable in terms of holiday visitor spend.

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

We are 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.

We organise and participate in a number of offshore training and networking events with travel sellers each year which New Zealand regions and operators can take part in. Take a look at our event calendar for more information.

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 is 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 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.

Tourism New Zealand’s first ever WeChat mini programme – a mini website embedded within TenCent WeChat – was successfully launched in December 2018. This innovative tool provides New Zealand travel planning information to users in a new, efficient way.

Channel strategy is evolving to the market change.

In 2013 Tourism New Zealand launched a trade marketing initiative in China known as the Premium Kiwi Partner (PKP) programme. This programme continues to adapt to changing market conditions, Today there are 15 outbound agencies and 16 inbound tour operators in the programme. PKP partners commit to developing and marketing quality, mono-New Zealand group tour in return for Tourism New Zealand endorsement of itineraries and marketing support.

30 flights operate between New Zealand and China each week

Online Travel Partner (OTP) programme was another trade initiative introduced from 2016 to support the quick growth of FIT and the increasing importance of online travel agents (OTA’s). Today there are seven online travel partners in the programme.

Tailor Made Partner (TMP) programme was introduced in 2018 to better serve high end consumer needs. It is a new trend in China Market, premium customers are willing to pay more to get more exclusive service and itinerary. There are 5 partners in the programme to work with Tourism New Zealand in the new financial year.

Airline activity

Around 30 flights operate between New Zealand and China each week. Air New Zealand, Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines and Sichuan Airlines operate direct flights between Auckland and the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu. China Southern also operates direct flights between Auckland and Christchurch.

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.

China Toolkit

The China Toolkit is available to help the New Zealand tourism sector deliver quality experiences to Chinese visitors. The Toolkit's focus is to help the visitor sector develop and deliver products that Chinese visitors value and enjoy - by providing in one place a collection of useful tools that businesses can access. Read more here.

More information

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