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Getting to know how international visitors use New Zealand’s transport system


Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is about to learn more about how international visitors experience New Zealand’s transport system through a research project currently underway.

Over the next few months, researchers will be out and about interviewing international visitors in New Zealand’s major tourism hot spots.

  • Shoulder season interviews are being carried out in Matamata, Rotorua, Queenstown and surrounds, in October.
  • Summer season interviews are being carried out in Matamata, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, Picton, Queenstown and surrounds, between December 2019 and March 2020.

In addition to on-the-spot interviews, the Transport Agency will be inviting participants to share their journey via social media, either by direct online chat with researchers or by including a specific hashtag on social media updates.

Two prior stages of research have been completed:

  • a segmentation of visitor data from MBIE’s International Visitor Survey based on common patterns of behaviour, such as how people travelled (bus, car, bicycle, plane, railcar etc), how far they travelled, and how long they stayed. 
  • additional information based on Paymark data. Paymark data is collected any time an international visitor uses their credit card with a Paymark vendor. Mapping these transactions helps identify common journeys visitors are taking.

Transport Agency Director Regional Relationships for the South Island, Jim Harland, says that since 2015, the Transport Agency has been the lead agency in a collaborative project with government and private sector agencies to ensure all visitors have a safe and enjoyable holiday experience, with specific safety initiatives rolled out on the West Coast, Southland and Otago.

Visiting drivers campaign(external link)

“The summer season visiting driver education campaign gets underway this month. Having been involved in this over the last few years, now the Transport Agency is keen to get a better understanding of international visitors’ actual experiences of our transport system.

The data we’re gathering will provide insight into the needs, motivations and behaviour of international visitors as they use the land transport system in New Zealand,” Mr Harland says.

The final research report is expected to be available in the first half of 2020.

The findings will help the Transport Agency, other government agencies, councils and other providers identify opportunities to improve the transport system from an international visitor perspective.

This may include helping future planning and investment into infrastructure, the visiting drivers campaign, potentially identifying improvements to services and highlighting opportunities to strengthen partnerships with other organisations.

View our research on international visitor experiences of our transport system. 

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