Foreign tourist numbers were flat in December, compared with the same month a year ago, but that reflected more people coming from China and Japan, but a drop off from Australian and British tourists.
Statistics New Zealand figures show 364,000 visitor arrivals in December, almost unchanged from December 2011.
"Although there wasn't much change in volume from 2011, there were still differences by country," population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said. "Compared with 2011, December 2012 visitor arrivals from China, Japan, and Germany increased, while arrivals from Australia, the United Kingdom, and Malaysia decreased."
The increase from China continued a growing number of monthly visitor arrivals from that country since May 2010. Japan's increase was a recovery from drops in 2011 after the Christchurch earthquake in February and Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March.
In the December 2012 year, 2.565 million visitors arrived in New Zealand, down 1 percent from 2011, when the Rugby World Cup was held. The largest increase by far was in visitors from China, but this was countered by decreases from the United Kingdom, France, and South Africa.
Meanwhile, net migration in December was zero, with long term arrivals equalling departures.
The average monthly net loss was 100 migrants over the past year.
The seasonally adjusted net loss to Australia was 3,300 in December 2012, the same as the average net outflow to Australia each month month since March 2011, since the Canterbury earthquake.
In the December 2012 year, New Zealand had a net loss of 1,200 migrants. There has been an annual net loss of migrants since the October 2011 year, peaking at 4,100 in the February and August 2012 years.
The net loss of migrants to Australia in the December 2012 year was 38,800, down from the record of 40,000 in the August 2012 year.
The December 2012 annual figure resulted from 53,700 departures to Australia, offset by 14,900 arrivals. In both directions, most migrants were New Zealand citizens.
There were net gains of migrants from most other countries, led by the United Kingdom (5,700), China (5,200), and India (5,100).