Moves to encourage more tourists to arrive in spring and autumn, not just summer, are bearing fruit, Tourism New Zealand says.
Statistics NZ data released on Friday shows increases in spring (16.1 per cent) and autumn (10.2 per cent) arrivals last year outpaced growth in summer visitors (8.3 per cent).
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall said he is thrilled by the shift.
Two years ago, the group began using its entire marketing budget to encourage people to visit outside the summer months.
"Traditionally, people want to travel here in the summer and changing that behaviour is extremely difficult," he said.
"But our industry needs a much more even distribution of visitors so they can keep staff employed and make the most of their investments in capital."
The change in behaviour comes as the total number of international visitors jumped 10 per cent in the year ending May 2017 to 3.6 million, according to Statistics NZ.
This included almost 1.9 million coming for a holiday.
Aussies helped lead the way with almost 50,000, or 9.2 per cent more than the previous year, holidaying in the country last year.
"It's pleasing to see holiday arrivals from our largest and closest source market continue to grow," Mr England-Hall said.
A drop in airfares and increase in long-haul flights arriving in New Zealand also boosted arrival numbers from countries further afield, he said.
This included holiday arrivals from the US growing by 32.6 per cent, while arrivals from the UK were up by 9.5 per cent on last year.
While more Chinese tourists arrived compared to last year, growth softened at 1.1 per cent.