New Zealand guest nights spent in short-term commercial accommodation recorded the biggest gain in almost four years in March as both kiwis and tourists basked in the nation's long hot summer.
Guest nights rose 6.7 per cent in March, the biggest monthly gains since July 2009, following a 2.4 per cent gain in February, according to Statistics New Zealand. Domestic guest nights rose 8.7 per cent and international gained 3.2 per cent.
Guest nights in March were helped by most of Easter falling in the month, compared to the Easter holiday falling in April last year. Short-term visitors to New Zealand in March rose 13 per cent from a year earlier to 270,700, a record for the month, led by Australians, Americans and British.
"Warm and dry sunny weather, early Easter and an increase in visitor arrivals contributed to the high number of guest nights," the government statistician said.
Guest nights in the North Island rose 6.5 per cent to 1.7 million, seasonally adjusted, while in the South Island they rose 6.8 per cent to 1.1 million.
Holiday parks recorded the biggest increase, with guest nights surging 22 per cent. Backpacker guest nights rose 3.4 per cent, motel guests gained 3 per cent and hotel guests rose 2.7 per cent.
Accommodation capacity fell 2.5 per cent at holiday parks and fell 0.9 per cent at motels, while hotel capacity rose 0.3 per cent and backpackers climbed 3.5 per cent.
Occupancy rates rose for all classes of accommodation. Holiday parks gained 4.6 percentage points, motels were up 3 points, hotels were up2.9 points and backpacker accommodation was up 0.8 points.