Statistics New Zealand figures show American and Japanese travellers were largely behind the five per cent boost in short-term arrival figures for May.
Numbers reached a high of 161,400 – up from 153,000 in May 2013.
A closer look at the figures reveals the extra visitors were mostly there on holiday, not business or for a conference.
“Visitor arrivals are higher than they have ever been for a May month,” population statistics project manager Susan Hollows said on Monday.
Annual visitor numbers to the end of May were 2.78 million, six per cent higher than 2013.
The statistics also reveal that Kiwis are travelling more than ever. New Zealand residents departed on 198,200 overseas trips in May, up nine per cent from May 2013.
Over the year, New Zealand residents took 2.23 million trips, up three per cent from 2013.
Australia was the most popular destination, with half of all May trips bound for a city across the Tasman.
The United States was the next most-visited destination followed by Fiji, the United Kingdom, China and the Cook Islands.
Migration figures showed that 4,000 more people arrived to live in New Zealand than left to live elsewhere.
Ms Hollows said net migration had been positive and mostly increasing since September 2012.
The latest figures indicate that fewer New Zealanders are relocating to Australia, more New Zealander are moving home from Australia and more non-New Zealand citizens are going to live in NZ, she said.