Tourism guest nights in Northland have grown three years in a row with a noticeable increase in backpackers who are staying in the region longer.
Figures released by Statistics New Zealand revealed total guest nights in Northland went up 14 per cent— from 132,078 in 2015 to 150,746 last year— with motels and holiday parks being the most occupied of all accommodation type.
In November last year, total guest nights rose 2.1 per cent compared with the same month in 2016 and the average length of stay also increased from 1.91 to 2.04 nights.
Total guest nights in November were driven by strong international growth of 9.7 per cent.
Backpacker hostel nights grew strongly by 21.5 per cent that month, an indicator of international youth travel.
Peter Dezoete, owner of Bunkdown Lodge in Whangarei, said he has noticed an increase in young travellers from Germany and France in the past 12 months and they stayed longer.
"Most, when they realise what Whangarei has to offer, they stay for two to three nights.
"The rationale is if they can get cheap accommodation, they can then make their money go further."
He said some of the backpackers he hosted worked short-term which helped in their expenses.
In winter months, his lodge host students who participate in school activities and they usually stay for about a week.
Bunkdown Lodge on Otaika Rd has nine rooms that can sleep 31 people.
Northland Inc regional promotions and tourism general manager, Paul Davis, said backpackers tended to stay longer and most came for working holidays.
"It's a different travel pattern. Backpackers who work for part of their stay then travel and spend the money they've earned," he said.
Far North nights grew 5.4 per cent, Kaipara 23 per cent, while Whangarei declined by 10.2 per cent.
For the year ended November 2018, Far North gained 3.8 per cent, Whangarei 8.4 per cent and Kaipara recording a decline of 7.9 per cent.
Mr Davis said he would not read too much into a decrease in visitor nights of 10.2 per cent in Whangarei in November compared with the same month in 2016.
He said the annual statistics, which showed an increase of 8.4 per cent in Whangarei, was the one that mattered.
Excluding campgrounds, the November occupancy rate across Northland was 55 per cent.
Mr Davis said Northland's annual overall growth rate of 4.1 per cent continued to track well ahead of the national rate of 2.4 per cent.
Tourism New Zealand, in partnership with other companies including Flight Centre, has launched a campaign in New South Wales and Queensland to entice visitors to Northland outside the summer months.
The campaign will run in both states as well as continue in Victoria where it was successfully launched in January last year.