Monthly Unique Regional Population Estimates

20 January 2023


Update (5 Apr 2023): The quality of the MURPEs data has been affected by two errors:
  1. Cell towers were added to one of the input datasets over time, and were not mapped to RTOs. Devices pinging these cell towers were classified as being in ‘unknown RTO’ rather than their correct location. This led to overestimates in national domestic visitor numbers prior to August 2022 and underestimates in both national and regional series of all segments after August 2022 (please see error report for more information).
  2. Non-mobile devices with cellular capability (cellular Internet of Things, a.k.a. IoT devices) are appearing in one of the input data feeds. The number of IoT devices has increased substantially since the beginning of the series as new types of devices were released and older devices were updated to use more modern cellular networks such as 5G. As a result, the current method for excluding these devices is no longer fit-for purpose. Because IoT devices tend to move significantly less than cell phones (e.g., smart meters), the proportion of devices in the feed which are classified as domestic visitors has fallen over time, leading to errors in domestic visitor estimates.

Our data provider resolved the first issue in March 2023 and is still working to resolve the second issue. Our data provider is aiming to provide us with fully-quality checked MURPEs, including backdated data, by July 2023. Once we have more information, we will share a timeframe for release with users. Our top priority is to ensure any data release meets our strict data quality standards. We apologise for any inconvenience this delay may cause.

The full error report is available here.

MBIE and Data Ventures have worked together to produce estimates for monthly unique local and visitor populations in each RTO in New Zealand. ‘Unique’ means each person will only be counted once in each area they appear, regardless of how many times they appear or how long they stay there.

The series begins in January 2019 and aims to fill a key gap that was identified by the tourism sector in understanding regional visitor volumes.

The populations that are estimated include:

  • International visitors – people from outside New Zealand who are staying in the country for less than one year.
  • Short-term international visitors – a subset of international visitors who are staying in the country for less than 90 days. (These people are counted as both ‘international’ and ‘short-term international’).
  • Local residents – New Zealanders in their primary or secondary home region.
  • Domestic visitors – New Zealanders outside their home region(s).

More information can be found on MBIE's website.