Immigration continues to run at record levels, with the net gain closing in on 65,000.
Figures from Statistics New Zealand on Monday showed that in the year to December 31, New Zealand recorded net migration of 64,900.
While the December gain of 5500 was down on November, inward migration from Australia continued, with 800 more arrivals from across the Tasman than left through the course of 2015.
This marks the third month in a row of annual net migration from Australia, the first time this has occurred since 1991.
ANZ said that while there were signs that migrant arrivals in October and November, at more than 6000 a month, may have been spikes, net migration was likely to continue at above average levels.
“With NZ looking better than most around the globe and still set to outshine Australia, we expect migration to remain strong,” ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said.
Net migration is the difference between long term arrivals to New Zealand and those leaving. During 2015 New Zealand had 121,900 migrant arrivals – a record high – and 57,000 migrant departures.
Just over 25,000 came from Australia, with around two-thirds of these New Zealand citizens.
Changes to visa rules allowing students to work part time have driven an increase in long term arrivals from India to 14,500, three quarters of whom were on student visas.
Around half of the 11,000 arrivals from China were students. Britain continued to be the third largest source of migrants, at 13,400.
Mainly driven by a reversal in migration patterns from across the Tasman, migration has been at record breaking levels for each of the last 17 months, meaning New Zealand’s population is growing at the fastest rate in a generation.
During the early years of John Key’s time as Prime Minister, close to 40,000 Kiwis were moving across the Tasman annually.
Visitor arrivals continue to boom, with 444,900 short term arrivals in December, the largest ever monthly figures. Visitors from China jumped 11000 or 43 per cent on December 2015.
In the December 2015 year, visitor arrivals reached a record 3.13 million, up 10 percent from the previous year. Australia contributed 1.33 million visitors, China 355,900, and the United States 243,100.