Total arrivals for the year ending November were marginally down by 0.7 per cent compared to the previous 12 months which included the significant RWC 2011 arrivals.
"Comparing total arrivals for year ending November 2012 against 2010 figures we see an increase of 1.7 per cent, signifying small underlying growth when we take out the impact of the RWC 2011," says Kevin Bowler, Chief Executive Tourism New Zealand.
"As we head into the summer high-season, it is encouraging to see that visitor arrivals have been maintained."
Australian visitor arrivals were up 2.5 per cent for the month while arrivals were up 1.0 per cent for the year.
Arrivals from Asia remain strong with China, Japan, Indonesia and Korea all showing strong growth. The increase in arrivals from Japan, up 3.3 per cent in November, indicates on-going recovery in the market.
Chinese arrivals grew 17.6 per cent for the month, seeing China overtake the United Kingdom to become New Zealand's second biggest source of visitors in the November 2012 year.
"It is now more than a year since we started seeing significant growth from the China market, and while we anticipate the growth to continue it is unlikely that we will see the huge percentages continue.
"Over the past year, this route has witnessed a flight frequency increase from three times weekly to daily. The recent MOU signed with China Southern, and the daily flights between China and Auckland that started in November 2011, will help support this continued growth.
"China represents a huge growth opportunity for New Zealand. The challenge for the industry in 2013 will be to increase awareness of the range of activities and experiences - and encourage Chinese visitors to stay longer and do more while they are here."