New Ski-Land: NZ's latest tourism pitch to Aussies

New Ski-Land is aimed at encouraging Australians to hit the slopes in New Zealand, and wander...
New Ski-Land is aimed at encouraging Australians to hit the slopes in New Zealand, and wander into less-well-known regions. File photo
New Zealand's fight to regain top billing as the destination of choice for Australians will begin this month with a new campaign: New Ski-Land.

Last year, for the first time on record, more Australians visited Indonesia (1.37 million) than Aotearoa (1.26 million).

While holidays to Australia's northern neighbour are running at 98 percent of pre-pandemic levels, trans-Tasman travel is yet to return in full, at 86 percent.

Hence New Ski-Land, which will encourage Australians to hit the slopes, and wander into less-well-known regions.

"New Zealand comes to life in winter," Tourism New Zealand executive Andrew Waddel said.

"A lot of Australians don't know that so we want to showcase it as a winter playground."

Alongside skifields near Queenstown, Wanaka, Methven and Ohakune, that includes whale-watching in Kaikoura, mountain-biking in Canterbury and hot pools scattered across the country.

Tourism Minister Matt Doocey - who wasn't aware Indonesia had displaced New Zealand on top of the travel rankings - said encouraging non-summer travel was a major focus.

"It should be about smoothing out the peaks and troughs. It's better for operators maintaining their staff, and also a good use of their assets and resources across the 12 months," he told AAP.

"You'll see it through Tourism New Zealand ensuring that our offshore marketing campaigns are also focusing on shoulder and off-peak seasons."

New Zealand, which is struggling through a double-dip recession, is eager for the return of tourists, particularly from the Australian and Chinese markets, which is running well behind 2019 levels.

Overall, New Zealand is receiving 82 percent of pre-pandemic tourists, helped by a boost of Americans.

"After Covid (Americans) decided they wanted their bucket list trip of New Zealand," Mr Doocey said.

"The Chinese were a bit later to return than other countries after Covid, though we're starting to see less of the high-volume tour bus traveller with the Chinese, more of high-value independent travellers."

That also rings true for Australians, who are spending less time (an average nine days compared to 11) in New Zealand but spending more money (up to $398 from $239 per day).

"We know that Australians are seeking more from their travel, they're prepared to put money towards it but from that they want more a deeper experience, richer immersion, and demanding more for the expense," Mr Waddel said.

"New Zealand is really well placed to satisfy that expectation."

Mr Doocey backed Australians to return en masse this summer.

"I've got confidence that'll bounce back to pre-Covid in the next peak season," he said.

While the headline figure of Indonesia overtaking New Zealand was widely reported on both sides of the Tasman, a deeper dive shows New Zealand had already lost the mantle as the top holiday destination of Australians.

Statistics provided to AAP by the ABS that strip out other form of short-form travel (such as visiting friends, business travel or conferences) and focus on only holiday-makers show Indonesia on top for 13 of the last 14 years.

The odd year out was 2021, when New Zealand reclaimed the mantle courtesy of the trans-Tasman bubble during the height of pandemic border closures.

Almost a half-century of travel data shows New Zealand on top for two decades, with the US also No 1 for a stretch in the 1990s.


1976-1987 - New Zealand

1988-1995 - United States

1996-2000 - Indonesia

2001-2009 - New Zealand

2010-2023 (except 2021) - Indonesia

2021 - New Zealand

(Source: ABS)