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Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development

Record growth for NZ cruise

New Zealand cruise reached a record high last season and the outlook for this booming sector remains strong.

02 September 2016



Over 254,400 passengers and almost 92,000 crew visited New Zealand during the 2015-2016 cruise season which started in August 2015 and ended in June 2016. They sailed on 35 ships that collectively visited New Zealand 138 times and made 703 port visits across the country.

“This represents a phenomenal growth of 26% in terms of passenger arrivals which translates to an injection of $484 million into New Zealand’s economy,” Kevin O’Sullivan, Cruise New Zealand’s outgoing chair, says.

Mr O’Sullivan says New Zealand welcomed nine new ships during the 2015-2016 season. The forecasts for the next two years are exciting.

“The 2016-2017 cruise season will start again at the end of this month. We expect to welcome 11 ships new to New Zealand, and another three new ships are scheduled for the following season.

“Although we are expecting to experience a slight dip in passenger numbers despite this new capacity in 2016-17, it will rise by 11% to a new record in the 2017-2018 season.”

The dip in the coming season is almost entirely due to the exit of the Pacific Pearl which had a monopoly of taking New Zealanders on winter cruises. However, the dip in passenger numbers will be offset by an increase in international exchange activity (where the cruise begins or ends in New Zealand) which has a 40% higher value, Mr O’Sullivan says.

“What is exciting about the 2016-2017 cruise season is that the ships will make 791 port visits, an increase of 13% from the season before.

“This is significant at a time when the wider tourism industry is placing its emphasis on value through regional dispersal, as outlined in Tourism 2025, New Zealand tourism’s growth framework. The cruise sector will not only inject a projected $490 million to New Zealand’s GDP and support 8878 jobs in the coming season, but will also spread the tourism dollar to regions less frequented by international travellers.” 

New Zealand has 17 cruise regions which economically benefits 16 Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) including inland RTOs like Rotorua, Hamilton & Waikato, and Queenstown.

Download Cruise New Zealand - Summary Report- Economic Impact of the 2015-2016 cruise sector in New Zealand and forecasts to 2017.