The earliest record of annual international tourist numbers to New Zealand was 5,233 in 1903. International tourism growth was very slow until it took off in the 1960s. Growth was especially strong during the 1990s and 2000s, and in the year to March 2009 there were 2.4 million international tourists.
Tourism is now New Zealand's biggest export industry, contributing 20.4% of total exports. Tourism generates a direct annual contribution to GDP of $16.2 billion, or 5.8%, and a further indirect contribution of $11.2 billion, another 4% of New Zealand's total GDP.
Tourism employs almost 10% of New Zealand's population. From the beginning, appeal to international tourist centred on the mountains, forests, lakes and geysers and led New Zealand to be ‘the wonder-country’. Highlights were Milford Sound, the Whanganui River and the thermal area of Rotorua. The industry has since become more complex, providing a wealth of cultural, adventure and nature activities, servicing different types of tourists, from independent travellers to guided coach parties.
Choice of activities
- Experience local tourist attractions; eg. Glow Worm Caves, Black Water Rafting or the Kiwi Culture Show in Waitomo OR Te Puia, the Gondola and Luge, the Agrodome or the Polynesian Pools in Rotorua.
- Presentations and discussions with experts from the local museum or Regional Tourism Organisation on tourism development in the region.
- Survey visitors to gain and understanding of their origins and preferences.
- Make field sketches from a viewpoint (eg. the top of the Skyline gondola) to provide an overview of local land-use and spatial patterns in the tourism industry.
- Collect data on, for example, the location of accommodation facilities in relation to key attractions.
New Zealand Certificate of Educational Achievement
- AS 91427 3.2 Demonstrate understanding of how a cultural process shapes geographic environment(s).