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NZ guest nights rise as foreigners fill local accommodation

New Zealand guest nights hit a six-month high in the final month of 2012 as international visitors filled local accommodation in Auckland, Canterbury and Otago.

Total guest nights at commercial accommodation rose 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted 2.7 million in December, the highest level since June, according to Statistics New Zealand. That was led by a 6 percent gain in international guest nights to a 14-month high 1.08 million.

It came in a month when short-term arrivals slipped 0.1 percent to 364,000. Guest nights from locals rose 0.6 percent to 1.63 million.

South Island guest nights jumped 7.2 percent to 1.06 million in December, in contrast to the North Island, which showed a 0.5 percent monthly gain to 1.64 million. The main regional gainers were Canterbury, Auckland and Otago, Statistics NZ says.

Hotel guest nights rose 4.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 944,000 in December. That was followed by a 3.6 percent increase at motels, motor inns and apartments to 885,000, and a 2.8 percent lift at holiday parks to 521,000.

Backpacker guest nights fell 0.4 percent to 347,000.

Accommodation capacity shrank 0.3 percent to 4.36 million guest nights in December from the same month a year earlier, with a 1 percent fall in the number of establishments to 3.21 million.

The occupancy rate was 40.2 percent in the month, the highest rate since March.