New Zealand's next big source of inbound tourists is a nation of shoppers on whirlwind journeys who spend more than half their money in Auckland.
Auckland, Otago and the Bay of Plenty grab almost all of the spending by Chinese tourists, according to a new breakdown of international card spending.
China is forecast to be a major and growing source of tourists out to 2018 as the Chinese economy continues to grow and traditional long-haul markets such as the USA and the United Kingdom struggle with sluggish economies.
Together with Australians, Chinese are expected to help fill the tourism hole left by the global financial crisis, Government-sponsored NZIER forecasts say.
But as the number of Chinese visitors rises, both the amount spent and length of stay per person are expected to fall, posing a challenge for tourism companies.
A new regional tourism series produced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment uses anonymous electronic card transactions since 2008 to shed light on how and where tourists are spending.
Card transactions show international visitor spending dropped 13 per cent in the twelve months to October, compared with the same period in 2008.
At the same time domestic spending by New Zealanders travelling outside their home towns rose 2 per cent.
Some 88 per cent of spending by visitors from China was concentrated in Auckland, Otago and the Bay of Plenty, said associate Tourism Minister Chris Tremain.
While in Auckland, Chinese visitors were much more likely to spend money on shopping than other tourists, he said.
The figures show Chinese money is felt most keenly in Rotorua, where it dominates international tourist spending.
Elsewhere it is Australians who dominate international spending.
Compared with visitors from the UK, Chinese spending is concentrated in a few places.
Most is in Auckland (62 per cent), Bay of Plenty (12 per cent) and Otago (14 per cent).
People from the UK, meanwhile, spend a similar proportion in Otago to Chinese travellers but less in Auckland and the Bay of Plenty, spreading more around other regions such as the Waikato, Canterbury and Wellington.
The data does not include prepaid spending, for example pre-booked accommodation.
The international card data is sourced from Paymark, which captures about 70 per cent of New Zealand retailers. The domestic data is from BNZ, which has about 20 per cent of the New Zealand card market.