The All Blacks v Lions test in Wellington saw the biggest increase of international guests to a New Zealand town during the tour, with a whopping 245 per cent more people visiting the capital than in previous weeks.

Auckland also benefited from hosting the two other test matches, seeing 60 per cent and 40 per cent rises respectively in numbers for the first and second games, according to figures provided by location insights provider Qrious.

The number of visitors to cities hosting a Lions game were compared with an average visitor number calculated during the past six weeks prior to the match.

The smaller towns also saw massive increases.


Peter McCallum, Qrious Head of Data and Insights, said it was harder to recognise uplifts in some of the bigger centres.

"Auckland is an incredibly busy tourist destination for most of the year, so an event has to be pretty special in order to show a significant spike in tourist numbers.

"As you can see from the numbers, an All Blacks games vs the Lions will do it, but the Auckland Blues provincial game at the very start of the tour may not move the dial too much."

Lions fans, pictured on their way to Eden Park for the final test of the Lions v All Blacks, contributed to a significant increase in visitors to cities hosting a game. Photo / Chris Loufte
Lions fans, pictured on their way to Eden Park for the final test of the Lions v All Blacks, contributed to a significant increase in visitors to cities hosting a game. Photo / Chris Loufte

Hospitality New Zealand general manager of communications Rachael Shadbolt said the presence of Lions supporters in Wellington between the Hurricanes game on the Tuesday and the All Blacks game on the Saturday were evident.

Bar tills near the stadium were ringing before both games and Courtenay Place was heaving after.

She said bars and restaurants were prepared for the crowds after learning from the event 12 years earlier and had reaped the benefits.

Shadbolt said the series also provided a big boost for smaller regions who would not have normally benefited during the low June season.

"In general the Lions tour was a really good boost in our off-season which is in general where you want major events to land."


But the spike in international guests visiting Auckland during the All Blacks games was a stark contrast to the Blues game earlier in the series which failed to bring in any additional overseas guests to Auckland on the night they played the Lions.

Shadbolt said this could have been due to the game being early on in the series, on a weekday and because the Auckland market was an anomaly.

Auckland always had a high occupancy so the visitor figures were not likely to be as drastic.

There had also be a large number of corporate visitors getting business done in the city before the tour combined with the Masters Games held at the end of April.

Whereas smaller cities such as Whangarei and Hamilton saw a massive spike as a result of hosting the NZ Barbarians and Chiefs games.

The figures, provided by location insights provider Qrious, showed Whangarei had just 620 more visitors to the city on the night of the NZ Barbarian game - the first in the series - but it was a 91 per cent increase on the same time last year.

A further 12,000 domestic visitors were also in Whangarei during the first game, during Queen's Birthday weekend - a 150 per cent increase.

Northland NZ general manager of regional promotions and tourism Paul Davis said even though there were less Lions supporters around at the start of the tour, it was still a "real boom" for the city with a large number of Aucklanders travelling up for the reasonably priced game.

"The Whangarei bars did very well before the game - not only Whangarei but the supporters circulated throughout Northland, both around the Whangarei game but they were particularly noticeable before and after the third test as well."

Hamilton also welcomed 3500 more overseas international visitors during the game - an 88 per cent increase and Wellington recorded 5000 more overseas tourists during the Hurricanes game or 83 per cent more.

Some 6000 people or just 10 per cent more visited Christchurch when the Crusaders kicked off on home soil.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa communications manager Ann-Marie Johnson said at least 300 people had flown to Christchurch after the All Blacks game in Wellington to meet their accommodation needs.

It was not just host cities who benefited because TIA's members in Hawke's Bay and Taupo had also felt an increase in business as fans travelled between Auckland and Wellington, she said.

Likewise visitors in Wellington had ventured to Picton to explore the top of the South Island during the four days between the Hurricanes and All Blacks game.

The figures also revealed there were some die-hard fans with about 1000 Aucklanders and 600 UK visitors attending all 10 games.