NZ guest nights hit a record for March month as earlier Easter, warm weather boost stays

Total guest nights in March increased 8 percent to 4.2 million from March last year, reaching a new high for the month. Photo by Lynn Grieveson

New Zealand accommodation providers hosted a record number of guest nights for a March month this year, as an earlier Easter holiday and warmer weather lured more people to holiday parks.

Total guest nights in March increased 8 percent to 4.2 million from March last year, reaching a new high for the month, Statistics New Zealand said. Nights spent in holiday parks led the increase, jumping 25 percent 950,438, setting a new record for the month.

“Two days of the Easter weekend falling in March this year was the most significant driver of guest night increases when compared with March 2017,” Stats NZ accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said, noting that the Easter holiday last year fell completely in April.

Holiday park guest nights often spike and fall in the months of March and April due to the movement of Easter, and warm weather in March this year may have also been a factor, she said.

The country's accommodation sector is in a purple patch, helped by a record levels of tourism and migration. In March this year, the number of domestic guest nights increased 7.5 percent to 2.18 million, while overseas guest nights rose 8.6 percent to 1.996 million.

The occupancy rate across accommodation types lifted to 54.7 percent in March from 53 percent a year earlier.

Hotel stays increased 5.9 percent to 1.397 million in March compared with the year-earlier month, while motel stays increased 4.1 percent to 1.269 million. Backpacker stays fell 0.9 percent to 560,000.

The South Island recorded a bigger increase in guest nights for March, with stays up 11 percent to 1.82 million, while the North Island continued to record the highest number of guest nights, up 5.8 percent to 2.36 million.