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About 100,000 New Zealand Residents Travelling Overseas

An estimated 100,000–110,000 New Zealand residents are travelling overseas as of mid-March 2020, Stats NZ said today. Of these, about two-thirds are New Zealand citizens and one-third are non-New Zealand citizens.

The estimate is an indication of how many New Zealand residents may return in the coming weeks using International Travel data. It is based on departures of New Zealand residents in recent months who have not arrived back in New Zealand. New Zealand residents are people who had been living in New Zealand for at least the last year, before they departed, irrespective of the nationality of their passport.

The government this week encouraged short-term travellers to return to New Zealand, given international travel restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19 around the world.

Estimates published by Stats NZ, currently available to the end of 2019, show that relatively few New Zealand residents are travelling overseas in March each year. In March 2019 there was an average of 106,000 travelling overseas, and in March 2018 the average was 97,000. The highest peaks coincide with school holiday, Christmas, and Easter periods. (Source: Infoshare, Subject category: Tourism, Group: International Travel and Migration, Table: NZ-resident travellers – average number overseas each day by main destination (Monthly)).

In addition to the above estimate of short-term New Zealand-resident travellers, another 90,000 migrant departures left New Zealand over the last year. Some of these people may choose to return to New Zealand.

There are also between 600,000 and one million New Zealanders living overseas, depending on how New Zealanders are defined. For example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 570,000 New Zealand-born living in Australia at 30 June 2019. This estimate excludes Australian-born children of those people.

We will be publishing comprehensive international travel statistics for March 2020 on 14 May 2020, in International travel: March 2020

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