The government credited New Zealand's reputation for having a pristine environment for the nearly 5 percent rise in tourism revenue for the year through March 2007 to a record of more than $15 billion.
The tourism sector was responsible for some 9.2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product in the year, government funded Statistics New Zealand reported. The industry supports 9.7 percent of New Zealand's total work force, or 181,000 full-time equivalent jobs, it said.
Spending by both domestic and international tourists rose 4.7 percent to $15.3 billion in the year ended March 31, 2007.
A nation of some 4 million people, New Zealand is known for its rugged mountains and wilderness areas made famous by the Hollywood movies "Lord of the Rings."
International tourism contributed $6.7 billion to total New Zealand exports, and domestic tourism expenditure was $8.6 billion, the agency said.
International visitors increased 2.8 percent to 2.5 million in the year to March 2007, following a decrease of 0.4 percent in the year ended March 2006.
New Zealand's ability to compete internationally depends on "ensuring we are environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable," Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor said in a statement.
"Doing what we can to protect our environment will also reward us financially, ensuring the economic sustainability of the tourism industry and New Zealand as a whole," he said.