Active NZ survey 2017

Active NZ survey 2017
01 Jan 2018


This report provides a snapshot of participation in sport and active recreation in 2017 by people aged 5+. It also resets New Zealand’s participation baselines using a new method.


This is the fourth time Sport NZ has carried out a nationwide participation survey. However, it is the first time since 2011 that we have reported young people’s participation and the very first time we have surveyed young people and adults together. The results in this report are based on data collected through the Active NZ survey between 5 January 2017 and 4 January 2018 from 6,004 young people (aged 5–17) and 27,038 adults (aged 18+). Through the up-to-date evidence in this report – gathered through a fresh participant focus and a continuous survey approach – we now have a better understanding of participants and non-participants alike, as well as the overall landscape of participation in sport and active recreation in New Zealand.

Key Results

So, what does it tell us? Importantly, it tells us that sport and active recreation continue to play a key role in New Zealanders’ lives. In any given week, 95 per cent of young people and 73 per cent of adults participate. Young people spend an average of 11 hours participating in 5.4 sports and activities, while adults average 5.3 hours across 2.3 sports and activities. Weekly participation, average time spent participating and the average number of sports and activities peak between ages 12–14 before declining between ages 15–17.

Participation is then relatively stable throughout adult years before declining again from age 65. Yet while these weekly averages may appear high, participation is under pressure. In 2016, we reported a 7.7 per cent decline in adult participation over a 16-year period between 1998 and 2014, and this report shows barriers to participation persist. Despite these challenges, the main findings in this report clearly show that people of all ages in New Zealand have an appetite for increasing their participation and highlight diversity in the ways population groups engage in sport and active recreation. Sport NZ and its partners will use Active NZ to inform future planning, and there will be more reports to come on topics that explore the needs and wants specific to different participant groups – based, for instance, on age and ethnicity.

Page last modified: 21 Mar 2024