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Since March the number of people leaving this country has exceeded those arriving by a substantial margin

Since March the number of people leaving this country has exceeded those arriving by a substantial margin

More people have been leaving New Zealand than have been arriving, since lockdown restrictions began in earnest in late March.

The latest figures from NZ Customs on the number of international air travellers arriving in and departing from NZ, show that in the first two months of this year there was a significant excess of arrivals over departures, with a net gain of 42,104 in January and 43,799 in February (see table below).

However as border lockdown restrictions began to bite hard in March there was a sharp decline in both arrivals and departures, with just over a quarter of a million fewer arrivals in March than there were in February, while departures declined by just 145,311.

With arrivals slowing at a faster rate than departures, the net gain of 43,799 arrivals in February turned into a net loss of 63,078 in March.

In April, May and June arrivals and departures had been reduced to just a trickle compared to their former levels, with passenger numbers bottoming out in both directions in May, when there were just 5577 arrivals and 10,111 departures.

However since March, the number of people departing has exceeded arrivals by a substantial margin every month.

Unfortunately the numbers are not broken down by traveller type.

Since late March most of those arriving would have been New Zealand citizens or permanent residents, plus a few people given travel exemptions, such as film crews and America's Cup teams.

But little is known about those departing.

The numbers suggest that it's likely that most of the tourists who were stranded here as borders around the world were closed and airlines cut back on services, had managed to leave the country by the end of April, but those departing over May and June may have been a mix of people who had been here on work or student visas as well as New Zealand citizens or residents who had decided to head to another country for some reason.

The comment stream on this story is now closed.

International Air Travellers
Total Arrivals and Departures to/from NZ
  Arrivals Departures Net Gain/Loss
Jan 741,173 699,069 42,104
Feb 562,074 518,275 43,799
March 309,886 372,964 -63,078
April 6385 31,896 -25,511
May 5577 10,111 -4,534
June 9162 14,864 -5,702
Source: NZ Customs Service  

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Hmmm for the property market many speculated arrivals would outstrip departures making the housing market more buoyant, early days ,be interesting to address this again in 6 months.

The numbers in the article are "all international arrivals and departures" - correct me if I am missing something.
If that is the case they tell us little about the balance of "permanent" arrivals vs departures - obviously lots of departures would have been short term international visitors - and almost none of the arrivals are.


That would still affect housing. All those empty Air BnBs, for example.

Indeed - but potentially quite a different type of effect .
In terms of housing impact a "permanent arrival" is potentially more significant than a dozen short term visitor departures.
I think the numbers for the coming months , relatively free from short term visitor departures ( although some people will still be stuck here and trickle out only gradually .. ) will tell us the story .

How long does an Air BnB remain empty until it's returned to the housing stock/rental pool? The same housing stock that's since reacted by filling the void left when that house became an Air BnB?

Speaking of Air BnB check this out
purchased for 2.3 million in Jan this year, Rates 6000 pa. New owner must have hit the panic button, and I cant blame them. That is some seriously bad timing. It's a lovely property though.

It is a really beautiful property indeed. No way I would pay over 2 mil for it though. Especially in the current market.

I have two family members that were bnb with small units at rear of their houses. One immediately sought a longer term tenant in lockdown. One has continued on short stay. So for that microscopic sample 50% change so far.

A lot of AirBnB properties are not legal to be rented long term, as they dont comply with all the new Residential Tenancies Act rules. And any landlord who rents an illegal property is now subject to large fines and a refund of all rent to the tenant. For example, any building that isnt 100% consented (both for building work and for resource use) or isnt fully insulated is now illegal to rent.

Any stats to support this?

But couldn't they sell it instead. Or just get it up to standard, which just involves spending money improving it.

The arrivals for Jan and Fed would most certainly have included many travelers. The pandemic was on just starting at that point. NZ's first case didn't happen until the very end of Feb. Tourists who had booked holidays for Jan and Feb would largely have gone through with them.


Do we need more people who will be along term tax payers, yes. But no one voted to increase our population from 4m to 5m in the unplanned way it unfolded. Reduction downwards and investment in infrastructure will see us better prepared.


We don't need ever more tax payers. We need greater productivity in both public and private sectors which will require less tax for the efficient functioning of the former and more net tax being paid by the later.

Even more in the public sector where productivity continues to lag even further behind the poor private industry data.

True, although you would meet some bright minds in the more technical roles, particularly in our agencies. It's mainly inefficient workers in management and leadership roles who more than offset any push for greater productivity.
The Kiwi love affair for years of experience over talent and misjudging flamboyance for aptitude is alive and well in our public sector.


yes please, take the knife to Public sector management and leadership roles . There are far too many in those roles earning far too much for doing far too little.


John Key decided to ruin NZ via mass immigration to give the false illusion of a Rockstar economy. I blame him 100% for ruining NZ.


You're right but his successors didn't really do much to reduce reliance on the low-value industries mass migration kept pumping up because it brought foreign dollars for them to fund their generous vote-winning schemes.

"...for some reason." People who need to travel internationally for employment? People with families abroad? There are lots of people who cannot currently reside in New Zealand due to the imposition of quarantine requirements.

Same rationale works in the other direction though too right?

Perhaps those countries offer more to those expat Kiwis than NZ currently offers. Plus their elderly relatives are safe anyway.

It does. I know one person that came back just around lock down due as they work overseas and was asked back by the wife. He is going to leave again after school holidays.
Another is an expat coming back over to take this boarding school child on a trip and will leave again after that. Free quarantine so why not!

Both have been working remotely in nz over that time.

And we are yet to see the impact of the outflow of those folks on low skill visas in the tourism sector who will be put of a job when the wage subsidy runs its course.

Unsurprisingly, the wage subsidy and temporary visa extensions both are scheduled to run out in September end after the elections.
Thousands of temp visa holders risk losing their jobs and their right to live and work in NZ simultaneously.

so it should!

The temp visa holders can leave and newly unemployed kiwis full their jobs, seems logical to me

We are gonna need people to hit a new level of desperation before that happens in big numbers.

So after the gains of Jan and Feb, March and April reversed these and we were essentially at zero net gains. May and June's numbers put us about -10,000 so not a huge loss for this calendar year thus far.


We need 350k net migration a year. Mass govt surpluses and house prices to double every 7 years. 3 million dollar mortgages at negative 12 % interest rates..


Ssh, keep quiet bro. The landlord class may take you up on this so that they can suck NZ dry before cashing up, buggering off and leaving us indigenous folk to suffer the fate of our cousins in Rapanui (Easter island).


It's not us landlords mate, it's your government.

Both the blue team and green team (and shocker, the black and white team) think the best thing for NZ is mass immigration.

You forgot to include the Red team and are wrong about the Black and White team. They do not favour high immigration and want a discussion about the level of population that would be best for NZ.


Yea the last 3 years we saw team black and white fight tooth and nail to fulfil their immigration election promises.....

Racist NZ First only have a problem with immigration because of the skin colour of those coming here has changed. If they were all white, they wouldn’t care.

Winston is a very strange shade of white.

That's just the wrinkles.


Far leftists are the real racists. They bring colour into absolutely everything.

Whereas the far right are very benevolent toward different races.

Are the "far right" always ethno-nationalists (like Ghandi was)?

Hamish Walker has entered the chat.

except a high % of immigrants are from south africa and the UK...

It's all done and dusted, a couple of decades ago, it was widely posited that 5 million would be a good number for us and I can't see any reason for that to have changed, though I was quite happy at our 3.5 to 4

It would be great at two million. But I could settle for five if was an absolute upper limit.

Some may sell up and bail out to Hawaii to play golf!

But little is known about those departing.

Question is why doesn't immigration know. People fill out departure cards, don't they?

I thought every passport was scanned in and out? How hard is it to count people in and out I don't get it

Yes, they can break it down by country in which the passport was issued for both in and out. But without departure cards, we don't know whether it is for short term travel or long term coming or leaving.


"People fill out departure cards, don't they?".
Use of departure cards ceased November 2018. They are no longer completed by departing passengers.

Thanks. Then they can use the information on the entry card and match by passport number.


Fantastic, more good news, though I’m sure our esteemed economist will think otherwise (expect them to ignore that fantastic measure they like to use when convenient GDP per capita may rise)!

Thanks Greg, that's great data. Could we please have a brief monthly update?

You know how countries like us only want skilled migrants now; the brightest and the best to add to their societies and growth? Guess what other countries now want - ours.


And those countries will pay much more than $20 an hour.


With considerable warmer & more affordable homes. Go figure.

That’s the price you pay to live in paradise.


Like Te Puke?

After spending years living in Auckland, absolutely!


That myth is long dead.

Would rather be on the HMS Australia than the NZ dinghy during these times.

Well Australia sure as hell isn't paradise and climate change will make that even more so

No snakes and spiders here, and you can swim in the ocean without losing a leg or life to the poisonous sea creatures. Also, there are less Aussies here.....I'll stay - despite the government - because we can change them, even if we have to wait a little........

Best comment here +1 @northman


There you go, -12,000 so far this year. Despite many spruikers telling us that the flood of returning kiwis, and people from overseas fleeing to our 'paradise' will put an insatiable demand on our housing market.
Spruikers, care to update your predictions?




Journalism on NZ Herald
Dumb Headline in the NZ Herald: "The brain gain: How returning Kiwis will boost the economy. It's a reversal of New Zealand's "brain drain" where thousands of educated and highly skilled Kiwis have sought jobs in other countries."

If they are bright, highly skilled and talented, they will have secure jobs or businesses and homes where thay are

The refugees who are scuttling back have most likely lost their jobs and done midnight flits on their rental


They're grossly mischaracterizing those deportees from Oz. Being highly skilled in creating homemade IED's, and having proficiency in semi automatic weaponry are not skill sets required in NZ as far as I know.


I got the premium service at the Herald during lockdown, but it's garbage like this that has made me dump it...
You are right.
Of the 20 or so people I am close to based overseas, none of them are returning home. A few of these people have lost their jobs - but their lives are over in Europe, or Aus or Asia, now, and they are getting by....just - usually via partners who have retained jobs, or with assistance from wider family / friends.
This 'brain gain' stuff is tripe.
Is it just really dumb journalism, or are there ulterior motives...


It's deliberate. The Herald is the propaganda wing of the REINZ. Try and find an article there, particularly in OneRoof, that even remotely suggests that the real estate market will drop.


Yes, I think it's deliberate too.
Objective journalism? Yeah, nah.
Liam 'it's highly unlikely there will be a recession' Dann is a notable proponent of economic spruiking, but most of them are complicit...


"Try and find an article there, particularly in OneRoof, that even remotely suggests that the real estate market will drop."

Follow the money and vested financial self-interest. What is OneRoof's revenue model?

OneRoof is a property market listing web site that gets paid for property listings (and is masquerading as an independent property market news website, and masquerading as an independent perspective on the property market via its advertorials ). There may also be some advertising revenue in there.

To avoid becoming collateral damage, owner occupier buyers should ignore the property market promotion and "independent" advertorials on


'Masquerading' is the key word there. Them and the Herald are effectively one and the same.
Go there if you want bias and distorted commentary. Come here if you want balance.

almost as good at masquerading as independent property experts as CoreLogic

Corelogic data is cr~p (I have a property Guru account). Hopelessly slow and incomplete data. If they are basing their analysis on their data its garbage in, garbage out.

Is that a bit like some of our National party cheerleaders masquerading as journalists?


There's been a fair bit of rhetoric - totally misguided in my view - around lots of highly skilled kiwis returning home.
This data doesn't tell us much if anything about the make up of the flows, but it clearly shows that we are leaking people, which isn't surprising.


Maybe the penny is starting to drop that New Zealand is not a lifeboat, it's a prison.

The rest of the world is carrying on.

trash-talking NZ seems to earn 8 upticks every time.

NZ as a 'free country' is on its last legs and you know it.

If we could post emojis here, your post would get the 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil' monkeys from me. It ain't Godzone and it ain't paradise and it's getting worse not better.

"One Roof" is obviously a collaboration between the Herald (and co-media) and the REINZ to take business away from Trade Me which will result in the monopolization of real estate selling; making it more difficult for people like me who prefer to sell privately.
I would suggest to Trade Me that they 'see off' this One Roof megopoly by giving the public really low cost property advertising for the next year or two.


Good job Captain Covid.
With demand falling, housing might come back to earth and ease the burden on renters and lease holders.
Long may the reduction continue. Sorry, Downsizing...

Following the outflow of money...

The raw data numbers dont make sense with the stated migration figures. Massive Plus 10k for March and even stevens April. On 24 March there was over 69000 tourists in nz so I strongly suspect the large april outflow was simply returning tourists.

What's your point?

What I said nzdan. The raw data of departures exceeding arrivals does not marry with the released migration numbers listed above

Oh sorry now i get it. Tourist numbers and migration numbers are 2 separate beasts. Once the tourists (temporary visitors) have finished draining we should see a stabilization of the net migration numbers as migrants come here to live and work.

Yes that's what I was getting at cheers

I imagine a big part of the outflow is/was tourism workers on working visas.

Of course they don’t make sense, they don’t support your narrative.

The positive net migration does not support your narrative

FYI if you look at the cumulative figures we still have ~130k more people in NZ than a typical NZ winter. The amount of people in NZ peaks in February and then declines as the months get colder before increasing again around September.

why is this do we speculate? people stuck here still want their holiday instead of leaving?

A combination of NZers rushing home when the border was announced to be closing and now not being able to (or not wanting to) leave NZ.

That's what I was saying to Zack yesterday. If you still have the energy to make something of your life and you have the genetics to recover from the flu (or not even notice it). Why would you remain on prison island?

The thing is, this country was built by risk takers. The adventurous minds now go elsewhere. Imagine if Abel Tasman let himself back down by the flu?

it will be interesting to see how national goes about framing that we should allow those on work permits back in while our borders are closed. unless they are a specialist surgeon or equivalent that sorry we have plenty of people here.
already starting to see stories about nz employers whom can not find staff from the 200k unemployed we already have to fill spots they used immigrants for and complaining, the government is telling them to go away and find someone and train them and dont underpay them

Partly a fair point, you still need someone to:
- be in the right location, no point having Queenstown unemployed and Hamilton jobs.
- be prepared to work for different conditions than before; it is unlikely that a pilot would get paid the same as a barista or office worker, or an aircraft engineer get the same pay working as a factory technician
- Have the right set of skills: I have a highly specialised technician trained to work on machines made in Europe that are not in any other industry. They are on a working visa but trying to get residency. It would take another 3 years to get someone else trained up on the machines, the reason we needed them in the first place.
I reckon that fruit picking jobs etc won't be filled by the ranks of the newly unemployed, and that the Government will suddenly make the benefits more generous under the auspices of "fairness" to those COVID unemployed......

I have seen somwhere similar numbers which differentiated between citizens and permanent residents. Now where was that? Any suggestions.?

I would love to return home from Perth- but my family and I, cannot. Firstly, we left because the wages were half what I make in Perth and everything is double the price (food, clothing, petrol, and the one of the highest property prices in the World). Secondly, my wife and I faced racism, that we never experienced in Australia (in Australia, we as Maori are treated as hard working NZers, and therefore celebrated. The overt racism was shockingly eye opening- we had to get our children away). Many Kiwis over here that I know, will never return for these reasons (we are all very highly qualified). NZ has cut its nose off to spite the face- people have become greedy, sold their properties at highly inflated prices, and pricing out the 'cream of the crop' members of society- and wonder why they are losing people to Aussie. Its because we can actually make a great lifestyle and get ahead. You cant in NZ. I tried.

I agree , i came back in November to support my parents and its been struggle street ever since ,ive lived in almost every state except Tasmania and Melbourne ,Sydney is quite expensive ;but, right now you would be better off if you could find work there right now.

I lost count of the number of kiwis in Australia who said to me i lived from hand to mouth in NZ ,financially im so much better off in Australia,higher wges ,lower living costs etc.

I dont blame you.

Sorry all, if NZ INC continues with nanny state , work x income , min wage , kiwisaver , super, holiday pay.
Medical care.
The list goes on.
Who would not want to migrate. problem .Who pays.?

Sorry, I mean its still a good deal for alot of the world.
Crap weather winter but options stil good.