View from the Milford Sound lookout
Image: Jaime Apolonio | Creative Commons


DOC has released its visitor activity insights report from the 2023/24 peak summer season, showing international visitor numbers to New Zealand are returning to pre-COVID levels.

Date:  02 July 2024

DOC Director Heritage and Visitors Cat Wilson, welcomes the increase in international visitors exploring New Zealand’s public conservation land.

“We are excited more international visitors are coming to see us again,” says Cat.

“The upwards trend shows we are on our way to pre-COVID international visitor numbers, which is great news for the New Zealand economy and tourism operators.”

The most visited attractions by international visitors were beaches and national parks, including Fiordland, Aoraki Mount Cook and Tongariro National Park. Meanwhile, local New Zealanders gravitated towards sites closer to urban areas, including the Auckland region’s Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve and Rangitoto Island. Short walks remained the most popular activity undertaken by New Zealanders.

“Warmer than average temperatures across nearly all of the country saw many New Zealanders spending more time outdoors,” says Cat.

“Over the 2023/24 summer, around half of New Zealanders visited protected natural areas like our national parks, conservation areas, and marine reserves each month, and almost one-third visited a heritage site, such as historic reserves and places of national significance.

“It’s great to see both nature and our rich cultural heritage continue to excite and draw people, and we hope Kiwis and visitors alike continue to explore New Zealand’s incredible places,” says Cat.

2023/24 Summers Insights Report (PDF, 2,720K)


  • In December 2023 the number of overseas visitor arrivals into New Zealand was 418,900, compared to 528,200 in December 2019 (pre-COVID).
  • Of these 418,900 overseas visitor arrivals, 40% were from Australia, 13% were from the United States, 7% were from the United Kingdom and 5% were from China.
  • There were 2.96 million overseas visitor arrivals recorded in 2023, a post-pandemic increase of 1.52 million from the previous year.
  • Between December 2023 and February 2024, the number of New Zealanders visiting protected natural areas each month remained near 50%.
  • For the same period, New Zealanders who visited protected heritage places each month remained near 30%.
  • The number of New Zealanders visiting protected natural areas was slightly higher in February 2024 compared to February 2023, reflecting the better weather this summer.
  • Similar to last summer, short walks (less than 3 hours duration) remained the most popular activity undertaken by New Zealanders.


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