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New Zealand to tax tourists to visit – but Australians will get in free

NZ$25 to NZ$35 levy will be used to fund tourism infrastructure and conservation

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A kiwi sign by a country road



The new NZ tourism tax reflects the debate about environmental and infrastructure pressures.
Photograph: Steve Allen/Getty Images

Tourists to New Zealand are set to be stung with a new tax but Australians have been given a free pass.

From late next year, international visitors heading to New Zealand will pay between NZ$25 and NZ$35 ($23 and $33) to get into the country, the government announced on Friday.

However, Australian citizens and permanent residents, people from Pacific Islands Forum countries and children under two will be exempt.

The move reflects an ongoing debate within New Zealand about the environmental and infrastructure pressures put on the country by booming tourism growth.

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In the year to April, about 3.8 million tourists visited New Zealand, a country with a population of about 4.7 million.

Of those, the biggest group were Australians, making up 39%, or nearly 1.5m visits.

The conservation minister, Eugenie Sage, said she hoped visitors would understand.

“It’s only fair that they make a small contribution so that we can help provide the infrastructure they need and better protect the natural places they enjoy,” she said.

The tax is expected to raise up to NZ$80m in the first year, with the money to be split between tourism infrastructure and conservation funding.

It will be collected through a newly proposed electronic travel registration process.

The announcement comes weeks after New Zealand’s government revealed it would double the charge for those staying in huts on some of the country’s most popular hikes.

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