A running series from Statistics New Zealand helping us make sense of the Food Price Index and the Consumers Price Index…
New Zealanders seem to have an annual urge to keep in touch, regardless of distance. If 2009 was anything like 2008, about 200,000 Kiwis were coming or going during December.
A total of 122,500 residents left the country in the last two weeks of 2008. On a typical December day, more than 100,000 residents were overseas.
But those absences were more than made up for by visitors. On a typical day there were more than 150,000 of them. The peak came the day after Boxing Day – our summer sales and beaches were tempting almost a quarter of a million visitors.
In the second half of December 2008, more than 208,000 people arrived here, and a quarter of them were New Zealand-born. The daily average for arrivals was almost twice that for the rest of the year.
The peak came on the Saturday before Christmas, when 16,600 turned up. That day must have been chaos in international airport lounges — 10,000 New Zealand residents were also going the other way.
As you’d expect, the most common reason for coming or going was to visit friends or family. But who was visiting whom? The average age of travellers was mid-thirties, lower than at other times in the year — but more were under 30. Luggage must have been bulging with presents for nieces and nephews.
Perhaps the most dramatic statistic is for New Year’s Day 2008 – the country was lighter by about 178,000 residents. It’s as if most of the residents of Wellington City or the North Shore had shipped out.
(Statistics are for short-term visitor arrivals and New Zealand residents going overseas for less than 12 months, in the 17 days up to and including 28 December 2008.)