The country has previously had a joint stand with Australia, but Tourism New Zealand’s regional manager Pip Casey said it was time to break out on its own again.
“Things have been going really well for us in New Zealand - we’ve had almost a 17% annual increase in visitors and 1.7 million people now come here,” she said.
“From the UK alone, for example, we recorded 11% more arrivals [July 2015-July 2016], which is amazing for such a mature market.”
Casey said the “Middle Earth” factor was still at play.
“It may be 15 years since the Lord of the Rings films first came out, and subsequently the Hobbit movies, but people are still coming here to see what Middle Earth really looks like; certainly 18% of our visitors site the Hobbit trilogy as a reason for their initial interest in New Zealand,” she said.
Increased air access has also been helping swell numbers.
As of October, Emirates is flying A380s on both its New Zealand routes of Auckland and Christchurch, which means the airline now has an all-A380 offering across its five daily services to the country.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways is set to offer daily flights between Auckland and Doha from February 2017.
New Zealand is set to host the DHL New Zealand Lions Series in June, which could attract around 20,000 international visitors, Casey said.