New Zealand national guest nights declined in August as stays in the North Island dropped by the largest amount in more than three years.

Total guest nights fell 0.3 per cent to 2.44 million in August this year compared with August last year, Statistics New Zealand said. Guest nights in the North Island dropped 3.6 per cent, the biggest fall since March 2014 when they declined 6.3 per cent, while South Island guest nights increased 4.8 per cent, the agency said.

The national decline in guest nights is the first monthly drop in five months and was driven by a 5.8 per cent fall in domestic guest nights in the North Island, offsetting an 8.8 per cent jump in domestic guest nights in the South Island. International guest nights advanced 1.3 per cent in the North Island and 0.9 per cent in the South Island.

"Increases in domestic guest nights in the South Island, and modest increases in international guest nights in both islands, weren't enough to offset the North Island's decrease in domestic guest nights this August," accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said.


Eight of the country's 12 regional areas reported more guest nights. Canterbury nights increased 4.7 per cent to 316,000, while the Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman region saw nights rise 14 per cent to 114,000 and the West Coast lifted nights 14 per cent to 62,000.

Offsetting the declines, Auckland stays fell 5.3 per cent to 537,000, Wellington dropped 6.7 per cent to 204,000 and Waikato slid 5.6 per cent to 187,000.

Hotel guest nights were unchanged at 1.03 million, while motel nights fell 1.8 per cent to 819,000 and backpacker stays slipped 0.2 per cent to 306,000. Holiday parks bucked the trend, with stays up 2.5 per cent to 289,000.

The hotel occupancy rate edged up 0.4 percentage points to 62.8 per cent, while the holiday park rate edged up 0.2 percentage points to 10.1 per cent, and the backpacker rate advanced 0.3 percentage points to 32.3 per cent. Meanwhile the motel rate slipped 0.1 percentage points to 50.6 per cent.