New Zealand visitor numbers down, Easter break timing and Christchurch terrorist attack possible cause

International visitor numbers dropped more than 10,000 in March compared to the same time last year, and the Easter break timing along with the Christchurch terrorist attack is being touted as a possible cause.

The total number of visitors for March was 378,300, down 10,100 on last year, statistics NZ said in a statement today.

"Although visitor arrivals in March 2019 were down compared with March 2018, they actually tracked higher for the first three weeks of March," population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers said. "However, visitor numbers are much lower compared with the latter half of March 2018."

She said the March 15 mosque attacks in Christchurch may have had some impact on visitor numbers, but a clearer picture should emerge in the next few months.

But, New Zealand was not the only nation seeing shortfalls in tourists.

Visitor arrivals were down for most countries compared with the same month last year.

The largest drops were in Australia (down 12,600), the United Kingdom (down 4400), Hong Kong (down 2800) and China (down 2400).