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Participation in Sport and Recreation

Popular Activities

The information presented in this section, ‘Popular Activities’, indicates the percentage of all adults who participated in a specific activity, irrespective of the intensity or duration of the activity undertaken. Also, participation levels are reported for three timeframes: over 12 months, per month and per week.

The 20 Most Popular Sport and Recreation Activities Participated in Over 12 Months

See table below images for complete data


See table below images for complete data

Table showing the 20 Most Popular Sport and Recreation Activities Participated in Over 12 Months
Sport and Recreation Activity % Number of New Zealand adults participating
Walking 64.1 2,100,278
Gardening 43.2 1,414,633
Swimming 34.8 1,139,812
Equipment based exercise1 26.5 868,271
Cycling2 22.7 745,183
Fishing3 19.3 633,769
Jogging/Running 17.5 574,109
Dance4 16.8 549,112
Golf 12.7 416,223
Tramping 9.4 306,343
Tennis 9.3 304,675
Pilates/Yoga 8.9 290,753
Aerobics 8.5 277,866
Cricket5 7.3 237,965
Football5 6.9 227,265
Touch Rugby 6.7 219,952
Netball5 6.4 209,769
Canoeing/Kayaking 6.4 209,652
Basketball5 6.4 209,428
Snow Sports6 6.3 206,073

1 Equipment-based exercise includes the use of exercise equipment (e.g. exercycles, treadmills, weights) at home or at the gym.

2 Cycling includes mountain biking and cycling.

3 Fishing includes freshwater and marine fishing.

4 Dance includes several dance genres (e.g. ballet, hip-hop, disco, ballroom, modern, tap).

5 Includes both indoor and outdoor versions of this activity.

6 Snow sports includes skiing and snowboarding.


The 10 Most Popular Sport and Recreation Activities Participated In Over 12 Months By Gender
Men %
Walking 52.3
Gardening 37.3
Swimming 33.4
Fishing 29.8
Cycling 28.0
Equipment-based exercise 26.0
Golf 20.1
Jogging/Running 19.3
Cricket 11.7
Football 10.7

Women %
Walking 75.1
Gardening 48.7
Swimming 36.1
Equipment-based exercise 27.0
Dance 22.6
Cycling 17.8
Jogging/Running 15.8
Pilates/Yoga 14.6
Aerobics 12.9
Netball 9.9
  • The top three activities for men and women are identical in terms of activity type and order of popularity.
  • Six of the top ten activities are the same for men and women, these activities being walking, gardening, swimming, equipment-based exercise, cycling and jogging/running.
  • Unique activities popular with women included dance, pilates/yoga, aerobics and netball, while fishing, golf, cricket and football were uniquely popular with men.

The 10 Most Popular Sport and Recreation Activities Participated In Over 12 Months by Age
16 – 24 years %
Swimming 47.3
Walking 42.6
Equipment-based exercise 34.1
Jogging/Running 32.5
Dance 28.2
Cycling 22.5
Basketball 22.2
Rugby 19.7
Touch 19.2
Tennis 17.6

25 – 34 years %
Walking 65.0
Swimming 44.0
Gardening 34.6
Equipment-based exercise 32.4
Jogging/Running 29.4
Cycling 26.8
Fishing 20.7
Dance 19.9
Golf 15.8
Aerobics 14.2

35 – 49 years %
Walking 64.8
Gardening 45.1
Swimming 40.9
Cycling 32.0
Equipment-based exercise 27.3
Fishing 24.9
Jogging/Running 18.7
Dance 16.6
Golf 12.2
Tramping 10.7

50 – 64 years %
Walking 72.5
Gardening 55.0
Swimming 24.4
Equipment-based exercise 24.4
Cycling 19.9
Fishing 18.8
Golf 14.0
Dance 12.3
Tramping 10.5
Pilates/Yoga 7.3

≥ 65 years %
Walking 73.3
Gardening 65.7
Swimming 15.3
Equipment-based exercise 14.0
Bowls 13.5
Fishing 11.0
Golf 10.5
Dance 7.9
Callisthenics 6.4
Cycling 6.1
  • Popular activities common across all age groups are walking, swimming, equipment-based exercise, jogging/running and dance.
  • Basketball, rugby, touch and tennis are popular activities among the youngest age group, 16 to 24 year olds.
  • After the age of 25 years, gardening, fishing and golf become popular activities.
  • Bowls is a popular activity for those aged 65 years and over.
  • Walking is a common activity across all age groups but becomes the most prominent activity after the age of 25 years.
  • Dance is another highly popular activity across age groups, especially among adults aged 16 to 24 years old.
The 10 Most Popular Sport and Recreation Activities Participated In Over 12 Months by Ethnicity
Total Population %
Walking 64.1
Gardening 43.2
Swimming 34.8
Equipment-based exercise 26.5
Cycling 22.7
Fishing 19.3
Jogging/Running 17.5
Dance 16.8
Golf 12.7
Tramping 9.4

Maori %
Walking 54.0
Swimming 38.5
Gardening 32.2
Fishing 24.9
Equipment-based exercise 23.0
Dance 22.2
Cycling 20.4
Touch 19.3
Jogging/Running 19.2
Rugby 14.4

Pacific %
Walking 48.3
Equipment-based exercise 24.8
Swimming 23.8
Touch 22.4
Dance 20.9
Volleyball 20.9
Rugby 17.2
Gardening 16.8
Jogging/Running 16.7
Basketball 13.6

NZ European %
Walking 66.6
Gardening 49.2
Swimming 35.4
Equipment-based exercise 27.8
Cycling 26.0
Fishing 21.1
Jogging/Running 17.8
Dance 16.1
Golf 14.2
Tramping 10.8

Asian %
Walking 58.5
Swimming 32.7
Equipment-based exercise 25.3
Gardening 23.6
Jogging/Running 16.8
Dance 16.4
Pilates/Yoga 14.9
Badminton 13.9
Basketball 12.6
Cycling 11.1

Other %
Walking 72.8
Gardening 44.9
Swimming 39.7
Equipment-based exercise 27.9
Cycling 21.9
Jogging/Running 18.7
Dance 15.4
Fishing 14.7
Tramping 11.1
Football 10.5
  • Compared with the total New Zealand population7, activities popular with specific ethnic groups included:
    • touch and rugby for Maori adults;
    • touch, volleyball, rugby and basketball for Pacific adults;
    • pilates/yoga, badminton and basketball for Asian adults; and
    • football for Other adults.
  • Popular activities common across all ethnic groups included walking, swimming, gardening and equipment-based exercise.

7 Because participants could report multiple ethnicities, the same person can be represented in different ethnic groups (e.g. Maori and NZ European). Consequently, ethnic-specific findings should only be compared with estimates for the total population and not between ethnic groups.

Participation in Sport or Recreation Activities Over Different Timeframes

Percentage of adults who took part in at least one sport or recreation activity…

Over 12-Months
Adults %
Total Population 96.0
Gender  
Men 95.7
Women 96.3
Age  
16-24 97.2
25-34 97.0
35-49 96.7
50-64 96.0
= or > 65 92.8
Ethnicity  
Maori 97.2
Asian 97.2
NZ European 96.0
Pacific 92.1
Other 95.4

Per Month
Adults %
Total Population 90.0
Gender  
Men 89.2
Women 90.8
Age  
16-24 89.8
25-34 90.3
35-49 89.9
50-64 90.6
= or > 65 89.4
Ethnicity  
Maori 89.0
Asian 88.8
NZ European 91.4
Pacific 80.0
Other 89.0

Per Week
Adults %
Total Population 79.0
Gender  
Men 77.7
Women 80.3
Age  
16-24 78.9
25-34 77.6
35-49 76.8
50-64 80.9
= or > 65 82.1
Ethnicity  
Maori 77.5
Asian 73.0
NZ European 80.7
Pacific 69.1
Other 78.9

Among adults:

  • the percentage who participated in at least one sport or recreation activity decreased as the timeframe shortened (i.e. year, month, week), irrespective of gender, age or ethnicity;
  • during any week, 79 percent of adults participated in at least one sport or recreation activity;
  • over 12 months, the participation level increased to 96 percent, indicating that most adults are involved in sport or recreation;
  • the level of participation did not differ substantially across different age groups or between men and women; and
  • compared with the total population, a lower percentage of Pacific adults took part in activities across all timeframes.

Number of Sport and Recreation Activities Participated In Over 12 Months

Percentage of adults who took part in…

 

One sport or recreation activity Two sport or recreation activities Three or more sport or recreation activities Average number of sport and recreation activities
Total Population 96.0 84.7 69.3 4.6
Gender        
Men 95.7 84.9 71.1 5.0
Women 96.3 84.6 67.7 4.2
Age        
16-24 97.2 90.3 81.5 6.5
25-34 97.0 89.3 79.3 5.4
35-49 96.7 85.7 74.2 4.8
50-64 96.0 81.9 60.7 3.6
= or > 65 92.8 76.3 49.3 2.7
Ethnicity        
Maori 97.2 83.6 70.1 5.2
Asian 97.2 80.4 57.1 3.8
NZ European 96.0 86.4 71.9 4.7
Pacific 92.1 75.6 60.8 4.0
Other 95.4 82.5 69.0 4.4

Over 12 months:

  • 85 percent of adults participated in at least two different sport and recreation activities;
  • men and women participated in a similar number of activities;
  • fewer people in the older age groups (50 years and over) participated in at least three sport or recreation activities;
  • the average number of activities participated in over 12 months decreased with increasing age, from 6.5 for 16 to 24 year olds to 2.7 for those aged 65 years and over; and
  • compared with the total population, all ethnic groups achieved a similar percent estimate for participation in at least one sport or recreation activity, but participation in three or more activities was lower among Pacific and Asian adults.

Participation in an Organised Competition or Event Over 12 Months

Participation in an Organised Competition or Event

 

%
Total Population 36.9
Gender  
Men 44.5
Women 29.8
Ethnicity  
Maori 44.2
Pacific 41.2
NZ European 38.6
Asian 21.5
Other 27.3

Over 12 months:

  • over one-third (36.9%) of all adults participated in at least one organised competition or event;
  • men were more likely to participate in an organised event or competition than women;
  • participation levels in an organised event or competition decreased with increasing age; and
  • compared with the total population, participation in an organised competition or event was higher among Maori and Pacific adults, but lower among Asian and Other adults.
Participation in an Organised Competition or Event by Age
See table below for data shown in this image.
Table showing participation in an Organised Competition or Event by Age
Age %
= or >  65 25.2
50-60yrs 32.0
35-49yrs 35.7
25-34yrs 40.2
16-24yrs 53.1

Involvement in a Sport or Recreation Club or Centre Over a Month

Various clubs and centres exist for people to take part in sport and recreation activities.

The Active NZ Survey examined the percentage of all adults who were members of the following clubs and centres:

  • sport or physical activity club;
  • gym or fitness centre;
  • social club/work team; and
  • other type of club/centre.

On this page the percentage of all adults who were members of any type of club or centre and the percentage of all adults involved with a specific club or centre are presented.

Member of Any Club or Centre

 

%
Total Population 34.9
Gender  
Men 38.6
Women 31.6
Age  
16-24 51.6
25-34 32.3
35-49 30.6
50-64 30.3
= or > 65 34.5
Ethnicity  
Maori 37.7
Asian 36.5
NZ European 35.9
Pacific 29.2
Other 27.9

During any month:

  • over one-third (34.9%) of all adults were members of clubs or centres;
  • one in every two adults aged 16 to 24 years were members of clubs or centres; and
  • compared with the total population, a higher percentage of Maori but fewer Asian and Other adults were members of clubs or centres.
Member of a Specific Club or Centre Type8

 

%
Sport/Physical activity club 17.9
Gym/Fitness centre 11.8
Social club/work team 5.1
Other type of club 6.3

8 Participants could choose multiple club/centre types noted in this table, therefore, when the percentages for each club/centre type are summated they do not equal 34.9 percent.

Among the different types of clubs and centres:

  • almost one in five adults was a member of a sport or physical activity club; and
  • the second most common club or centre with which adults engage was a gym or fitness centre.
Received Instruction for a Sport or Recreation Activity Over 12 Months
Percentage of adults who received instruction from a Coach, Instructor, Teacher or Trainer…

 

%
Total Population 39.9
Gender  
Men 37.2
Women 42.4
Age  
16-24 67.3
25-34 47.0
35-49 37.7
50-64 30.0
= or > 65 20.9
Ethnicity  
Maori 45.1
Asian 42.9
NZ European 40.1
Pacific 36.5
Other 37.5

Over 12 months:

  • 40 percent of adults received instruction from a coach, instructor, teacher or trainer;
  • receiving instruction was most common among 16 to 24 year olds;
  • receiving instruction decreased with increasing age; and
  • compared with the total population, a higher percentage of Maori but a lower percentage of Asian and Other adults received instruction for a sport or recreation activity.

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Updated | 25 Nov 2008.

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