The census provides a “snapshot” of New Zealand on the evening of March 6, a Statistics NZ representative says.
This meant all visitors and tourists, as well residents, needed to fill in the census, general manager Denise McGregor said.
But this had been made easier by focusing on people filling out the survey online, she said.
Previously, staff visited every dwelling in the country to deliver and collect paper census forms, but this time an internet access code would be posted to each household.
People could request paper forms before March 6 if required, Mrs McGregor said.
While visitors were counted as visitors in the census, it gave Statistics NZ an idea of how many tourists were in New Zealand at the time of the survey, she said.
In addition to moving to a mostly online census, new questions had been added, including some about housing quality, particularly mould and dampness in housing, she said.
“[It will provide] a much richer picture.”
The census would also ask how people got to educational institutes – it had previously only asked about transportation to work – as well as listing questions for people living with disability, specifically accessibility limitations and the ability to do things, she said.
“That’s really exciting.”
Mrs McGregor expected the first collection of data from the 2018 census – about the population in different regions and towns – would be released in October.
South Canterbury residents and visitors can complete the 2018 census on or before Tuesday, March 6.
Timaru Hospital would provide technology and support to people needing help to fill in the online census on March 6, at the front of the hospital, from 8am to 5pm.