Drift Bay, Queenstown
Image: DOC


Short walks and leisurely activities like sightseeing, photography, and bird and wildlife watching were the most popular outdoor activities for kiwi and international visitors, according to DOC’s annual visitor insights report.

Date:  22 November 2023

The report analyses and provides insights from bookings data and surveys for the 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 period.

Many international visitors exploring New Zealand went to beaches, national parks, and hot pools. Geothermal parks, places significant to Māori, and glaciers were also visited, along with local breweries, vineyards, top-end restaurants, and film locations.

Cat Wilson, DOC’s Heritage and Visitors Director, says while millions of tourists are making up for time lost during Covid years, international tourism hasn’t reaching pre-Covid levels just yet.

“Between January and August 2022, New Zealand had international travel restrictions in place due to Covid-19. The insights show annual overseas visitor arrivals were 2.54 million in June 2023, up 2.23 million from June 2022.

“While visitor numbers are rising, we can’t underestimate the toll extreme weather can take on locations,” says Cat Wilson. “Globally, extreme weather events, like the recent heatwaves across the United States, Europe, and China, have affected tourism.

“The upwards trend towards shorter walks and day activities coincides with extreme weather events in New Zealand during this period, including flooding and cyclone Gabrielle, which devastated communities and impacted heavily on DOC’s infrastructure. The Visitor Insights report reflects reduced visitor numbers over January and February 2023 in affected areas, which we expected.

“It is really encouraging to see people are still finding creative ways to enjoy nature, by switching to different areas and exploring different activities such as short walks and cultural heritage sites.

“Kiwis are renowned for their adaptability and determination to connect to nature.

“If El Nino weather predictions for this summer play out, New Zealand can expect dry, hot, and changing conditions. While our weather has always been changeable, recently it has been at the intense end of the scale, and we are recommending everyone takes extra care when planning for outdoor adventures this year.”

Read Understanding 2022/23 visitor activity (PDF, 3,351K)

Minimise your impact outdoors by following DOC’s Tiaki Care Code.


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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