Overseas tourists pumped an extra $2.8 million dollars through our retail network during the first few days of the Rugby World Cup than they did at the same point last year, official figures show.

Electronic payments provider Paymark said foreign card spending through its network was up 27.4 per cent between Friday and Sunday last week, and predictably most of that lift was felt in the hospitality sector.

Overall spending (excluding fuel) lifted 10.9 per cent to $719 million in the week leading up to the tournament from 15 million transactions.

"Even before the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony kicked off on Friday night, spending through Paymark's network had noticeably picked up, and is now surging in pockets around the country," Paymark's head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said.

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An extra $1.3 million was spent at hospitality merchants linked to the Paymark network on the day of the tournament, when compared to the same period last year, he said.

Auckland and Northland had a biggest uptake in spending (up 11.8 per cent) than any other part of the country in the lead up to the tournament.

The hospitality sector recorded a 10.5 per cent lift in spending last weekend, while spending on car rentals spiked 46.6 per cent.

"Looking more closely at the hospitality sector on a regional basis, the strongest spending surge was recorded in Southland where spending across the three days grew 24.4 per cent compared with the same three days in 2010. Of the three weekend days, the Southland surge was most evident on Sunday (up 32.7 per cent), Whiston said.

Spending in Otago during the weekend lifted 16.6 per cent, and in Canterbury it increased 14.9 per cent.

The biggest drop in hospitality spending at the weekend was recorded in Wairarapa (down 23.4 per cent), Palmerston North (down 11.2 per cent), Marlborough (-7.4 per cent), Bay of Plenty (-5.7 per cent) and Hawkes Bay (-4.4 per cent).