Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Easter brings spending splurge

Endless blue skies and hot temperatures marked the busiest March in a decade for one Northland holiday park.

Former Whananaki Holiday Park manager Jackie Cooper, whose lessee term finished at the end of March, said Easter had been an "absolute boomer", with holidaymakers' spending boosting Northland tourism operators' coffers. She said it was the busiest Easter she had seen in 11 years.

Figures from the Paymark electronic transaction network show more than $4 billion was racked up in electronic spending nationwide last month - up 3.1 per cent on the same month last year.

An early Easter and fine weather is being credited for the increase.

Nationally, accommodation spending was up 7 per cent in March compared to last year.

Hostel and camping grounds recorded a significant 18 per cent jump - which the Holiday Accommodation Parks Association of NZ attributed largely to the extended summer weather.

Ms Cooper said several local tourist operators had benefited from the stunning March weather.

The nearby Department of Conservation and Motutara Farm camp grounds were also "full to the brim" over the earlier long Easter weekend.

Northland-specific spending figures were unavailable from Paymark. However, wider regional figures show $1.6 billion was spent in Auckland/Northland during March. This was up 2.7 per cent on the same month last year.

HAPANZ chief executive Fergus Brown said holiday parks in Northland and Coromandel boasted capacity numbers during Easter.

Paymark chief executive officer Simon Tong said the trend was consistent with many Kiwis heading to "smaller resort-based" towns for the long weekend.

In the five days ending Easter Monday, spending was down in Auckland/Northland (-14.8 per cent), Wellington (-16.7 per cent) and Canterbury (-8.6 per cent) compared to March 2012.

"However, when you compare the Easter spending period with the five days of Easter in April 2012 we actually had a much more positive result, with spending up $48 million or 8.8 per cent nationally," Mr Tong said.

Non-trading rules on Good Friday and Easter Sunday contributed to slower spending over the month, Mr Tong said.

- Northern Advocate

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