Guest nights climb 6.7% in June

The Lions rugby tour bolstered the number of international visitors.

New Zealand national guest nights rose in June, helped by international visitors here for the Lions rugby tour.

Total guest nights climbed 6.7 percent to 2.3 million in June compared with the same month a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. Domestic guest nights gained 2.6 percent to 1.41 million while international guest nights rose 14 percent to 898,000, the agency said.

Tourism arrivals for the month of June jumped 17 percent to 230,100, with visitor arrivals from the UK and Ireland accounting for 49 percent of the rise. UK and Irish visitor arrivals numbered 23,400, which is the second-highest number for a June month since 2005 which also coincided with the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. This year's tour began on June 3 with the Lions playing the Barbarians in Whangarei, with the first test match between the Lions and the All Blacks on June 24 in Auckland.

"The effect of the Lions tour on accommodation was most obvious in the Auckland and Wellington regions," Stats NZ accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said. "Auckland hosted the only All Blacks test match in June, while fans may have stayed in Wellington between the Hurricanes match on 27 June and the All Blacks test match on 1 July."

Compared with June 2016, international guest nights were up 27,000 in Auckland and up 28,000 in Wellington. The region with the next largest increase in international nights was Otago, up 23,000, driven by Queenstown. However the gains in international guest nights in these regions was offset by declines in domestic guest nights, the agency said.

Total guest nights increased in 11 of the country's 12 regional areas. The largest increases were in Canterbury, which had an extra 23,000 guest nights, up 8.8 percent to 289,000, followed by Wellington with an additional 21,000 guest nights, up 10 percent to 230,000, and Otago, with an extra 20,000 nights, up 6.3 percent to 340,000. The West Coast was the only region to record a decrease in the month, with guest nights down 1,000 or 2.6 percent to 50,000.

Nationally, all four accommodation types reported an increase in guest nights, with hotel stays up 5.8 percent to 933,000, motels up 8.1 percent to 755,000, backpackers up 2.5 percent to 314,000 and holiday parks ahead 11 percent to 306,000.