Surge in numbers heading to Australia

9:41 pm on 21 July 2011

The number of people leaving the country to live in Australia is at one of its highest levels on record, as quake aftershocks continue to drive people out of Christchurch.

Statistics New Zealand says on a seasonally adjusted basis, there was an overall net outflow of 300 permanent and long term migrants in June 2011, the fourth month in a row of negative migration.

That dragged down the annual migration figure to a net gain of 3,867 permanent migrants, the lowest since December 2008.

In June, 600 people left Christchurch permanently, while 800 left in May.

A Statistics New Zealand spokesperson says monthly departures from the city in March, April and May had been running at double the rate of a year ago, but appear to have stabilised in June.

The national annual gain has rapidly shrunk from 16,500 in the year to June last year, and is well below the 20-year average of 12,000.

Meanwhile, tourism numbers were hit by the effect of the ash cloud from the Chilean volcanic eruption, which caused major flight disruptions.

Short-term visitors dropped 10% in June. A rise in Chinese tourists was offset by a fall in tourists from Australia, Britain and Korea.

Goldman Sachs economist Philip Borkin told Checkpoint the continuing exodus of people from Christchurch is not surprising.