Chinese visitors good for Wanaka

Chinese tourists earlier this year at Steamer Wharfe with the TSS Earnslaw while on vacation in Queenstown, Otago.
Chinese tourists earlier this year at Steamer Wharfe with the TSS Earnslaw while on vacation in Queenstown, Otago.

The number of Chinese visitors heading to New Zealand has surpassed the number of visitors arriving from the United Kingdom according to information released by Statistics New Zealand today.

China overtook the UK to become New Zealand's second-biggest tourism market in the year to November 2012.

Australia remained the biggest source of visitors, accounting for 45 percent of all visitors compared with 8 percent for China.

Population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said arrivals from China reached 194,800 in November, up 38 percent on the previous year.

In contrast, visitor numbers from the UK have been declining for the last five years, with a 17 percent decrease in the last 12 months bring the number down to 191,400.

Visitors from China were mostly holidaymakers (71 percent) with a median age of 47.

Lake Wanaka tourism chief executive James Helmore said between 20 and 25 percent of Chinese visitors ended up coming to the Southern Lakes region.

The Chinese New Year was going to be ''massive'' for Queenstown and Wanaka in 2013 with four star accommodation almost booked out, he said.

''We are seeing overflow into Wanaka already. It's a good thing.''

The Southland Times