The hospitality industry is looking forward to a boom summer to shake off last year's washout and the gloom of a sluggish economy.

A new survey by the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) shows nearly half of New Zealanders will travel over the Christmas-New Year break.

Forty-nine per cent plan to travel over the break, and will spend an average of 7.9 nights away - up from 7.4 nights in each of the last two Christmas-New Year periods. Five per cent of those going away are heading overseas, while 13 per cent of those surveyed had not decided if they would leave home.

TIA chief executive Martin Snedden said the latest "AA Mood of the New Zealand Traveller" report matched a cautious industry optimism about the summer ahead.


"There does seem to be a reasonable level of optimism about the summer.

"Everyone is crossing their fingers and hoping the weather is going to behave better than it did last year."

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson agreed.

"There's a bit of an expectation that New Zealanders have had enough of that doom and gloom and are looking forward to a summer break and enjoying themselves.

"The weather forecasts look reasonably positive.

"There's a positive expectation out there that this summer will be better than last."

The report, based on a Colmar Brunton survey of 1016 New Zealanders, showed Auckland was the most popular holiday destination this summer.

Traditional holiday spots like Lake Taupo, Tauranga/Mt Maunganui and the Coromandel were also popular choices. In the South Island, Christchurch, Queenstown and Nelson were most popular.


Mr Snedden said that while the urban centres were popular with people visiting families, the holiday traffic would likely be spread around the country.

Despite falling domestic airfares, 87 per cent of people planned to travel by private vehicle over the holidays.

Just over 70 per cent of people surveyed will holiday with relatives, with 40 per cent heading away with their partner, and 23 per cent spending the break with friends.

Motels and holiday parks each attract 16 per cent of holidaymakers, with 70 per cent of those leaving home staying in a private home or bach.

Mr Snedden said it was notable that 62 per cent of those that needed to book accommodation had not yet done so.

"That's a consistent pattern with the way people operate now ... years ago most bookings would be made well in advance."