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The figures, released yesterday by Stats NZ, show cruise ship spending increased nationally by 28% to $570million.
A surge in the number of cruise voyages, port calls, and passengers was behind the increase, which compared with an 11% increase for the June 2018 year.
Dunedin also received the second most passengers after Auckland, with 238,000, up 32% on the season before.
The Dunedin figures were backed up by local tourism operators, who said it tallied with their experiences of last season.
Stats NZ said the $570million figure to the end of June this year included a national spend by passengers of more than $370million, a vessel spend, including the likes of fuel, of more than $145million, and GST of $54million.
The lift in annual cruise spending was $125million.
Cruise ship spending had risen every year since 2015, but the annual increase in the latest 12 months was the biggest in both dollar and percentage terms, national accounts senior manager Gary Dunnet said.
The New Zealand Cruise Association recorded 176 ship voyages and 981 port calls for the year to June, up from 148 and 707 respectively the year before.
Nearly 322,000 cruise ship passengers visited New Zealand, up 24% (62,000) from 2018.
Auckland and Dunedin ports had the largest number of passengers.
Auckland received 239,000 passengers, up 13% (28,000), while Dunedin received 238,000, up 32% (58,000).
Olveston manager Bronwyn Simes said the 26% figure did not surprise her, and revenue at the historic home was "comfortably up from last year".
Larnach Castle director Norcombe Barker also said the Stats NZ figure tallied with what he was seeing at the castle, "It's fantastic for us."
The castle was also budgeting for more growth in future, with improvements like a larger gift shop, though he did not expect to see growth continue at the rate it had last season.
Otago Peninsula Trust marketing manager Sophie Barker said the cruise ship input was "significantly important" for Dunedin, as the tourism growth generally was forecast to slow.
The trust, which operates the Royal Albatross Centre, Blue Penguins Pukekura and Glenfalloch Woodland Garden & Restaurant, had been extremely busy during the season.