Northland's burgeoning tourism industry is showing no signs of slowing down, with latest statistics estimating visitors to the region spent nearly $1 billion in the year to August.
The latest Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) shows tourism spend for Northland is estimated to be $944 million for the year to August 2016- up nearly six per cent compared with the year to August 2015.
Domestic tourists estimated spend was $721m and international visitors $222m. Retail sales except for alcohol, food, beverage, and fuel were their biggest expense at $7m, followed by food and beverage at $6m. The accommodation spend was $2m. Of the international visitors, Australians spent $64m, followed by the $28m that United States' visitors forked out.
Australian couple Bob and Janine Kennedy will spend three days in Russell after their daughter and other friends told them about the beauty of the Bay of Islands.
Both drove into Whangarei yesterday from a rain-sodden Coromandel and were strolling at the Town Basin when the Northern Advocate caught up with them.
"I've never been to the Bay of Islands and I really wanted to do the trip. It's close (to Auckland) and cheap. Our daughter was up there 18 months ago and loved the place," Mrs Kennedy said.
The teacher and her husband from Newcastle, north of Sydney, will stay in a one-bedroom apartment in Russell and plan to get into the water, visit the Waitangi Treaty grounds and pubs, and do a bit of walking.
Whangarei, they said, had beautiful scenery and was more warm and dry than the Waitomo Caves, Hamilton and Rotorua.
"We decided to pick a sector like the Bay of Islands and enjoy it," Mr Kennedy said.
The release of the tourism figures yesterday was followed by news that an estimated $4.1m would be injected into the Northland economy through 13 visits by cruise ships to the Bay of Islands in the 2016/17 season.
Four ships, including Ovation of the Seas which is the world's largest cruise ship, will carry 54,989 passengers.
Cruise ship visits carrying more than 100,000 tourists to the Bay of Islands in the 2015/16 season brought $20m into the region- nearly double the previous season's numbers.
A report released by Cruise New Zealand on the economic impact from cruise ship visits said the $20m cash injection in the 2015/16 season was up 53 per cent from the 2014/15 season, when Northland earned $13m from those visits.
The $20m equates to an average spend by cruise ship passengers of $200 per person per day.