Sport and recreation still a big part of Kiwi lives

Published
15/03/2015 by Steve Knowles


Sport and recreation continue to play a big part in the lives of Kiwis, according to the latest Active New Zealand survey released by Sport NZ today.

The Active NZ Survey 2013/14 provides a nationwide snapshot on how, when and where adults are engaging in sport and recreation, both as participants and volunteers.

Three-quarters of adults (74%) take part in sport and recreation in any given week – a small increase (1%) on the last survey six years ago. Sport NZ Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin says he believes that makes us among the most active in the world.

“It’s difficult to make international comparisons as survey methods differ, but when you consider many places, including Australia, are seeing a decrease in adult participation, this survey tells us we are doing pretty well.”

“When you also consider that we’ve recently topped a global report card on the physical activity levels of young people, and the success our high performance athletes are enjoying, our sporting pathway looks to be in pretty good shape.”

The number of adults volunteering in sport and recreation has also increased – almost 3% since 2007/08 – and now each year almost 1 million adults give their time to help make sport happen in communities all over the country.

The survey also found:

The number of adults who took part in the last 4 weeks and belong to some sort of sport and recreation club hasn’t changed – about a third – however, traditional sports club membership is down slightly, while gym membership is up. 

The most popular activities of choice are recreational by nature – walking, swimming, cycling and jogging/running.

Golf, football, tennis, netball, cricket and touch rugby remain among the most popular sports.  However, people are interested in trying a diverse range of different activities rather than doing more of the same – over 100 different activities were mentioned in the survey.Each year almost one-fifth of adults (over 550,000) now take part in at least one sport and recreation event – the most popular being fun runs and walks.

The main reasons people take part are for fitness and health (firstly) and enjoyment (secondly). Most participants say they want to do more sport and recreation. However, time remains the greatest barrier to participation.

·        Some groups continue to participate less, including women, older adults and Asian peoples (compared with all adults).


While pleased with the results, Miskimmin is also sounding a note of caution. He says international trends towards inactivity and societal changes in New Zealand mean we can’t assume Kiwis will always be sporty.


“Generations of Kiwis have enjoying a wonderful, playful upbringing, which sets us up for a lifelong love of sport and fuels our high performance sport system. But the world is changing, and the sport system must respond to ensure we preserve our sporting heritage.”

“The survey findings have informed the development of our new Sport NZ Group Strategic Plan and  Community Sport Strategy 2015-2020, due to be launched later this week. The focus will be on understanding the changing needs of participants at all stages of the sporting pathways and in different communities. Our aim is to ensure sport and recreation continue to be valued by future generations.”

Further info

This is the fifth Active NZ survey – earlier versions of the survey were conducted in 2007/08, 2000/01, 1998/99 and 1997/98. Sport NZ carried out the 2007/08 and 2000/01 surveys.

The 2013/14 Active NZ survey was a face-to-face survey carried out in people’s homes by trained interviewers. To select people for the survey (the sample), households from across New Zealand were selected at random and then visited by an interviewer who randomly selected one adult per household and invited them to take part in the survey. The survey was voluntary and all answers were anonymous.

The survey, which was carried out over 12 months (April 2013 to March 2014) to capture participation in seasonal sports and activities like cricket, netball, skiing and tramping, was run by the National Research Bureau. Over 6,400 adults took part in the survey.