New Zealand national guest nights rose in September as increased demand in the South Island was driven by greater numbers of domestic visitors and hotel stays.

Total guest nights gained 1.4 per cent to 2.67 million in September from the same month a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. Guest nights in the North Island dropped 1 per cent while South Island guest nights increased 5.2 per cent.

Domestic guest nights rose 7 per cent in the South Island, while international guest nights advanced 3.4 per cent. In the North Island, domestic guest nights fell 2.9 per cent and international guest nights rose 3.3 per cent.

"South Island guest nights stood out this month," accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said in a statement.


"When compared with the same month of the previous year, South Island guest nights have increased six months in a row, following a brief period of falls influenced by the Kaikōura earthquake. The continuous growth over the last six months has been reflected in almost every region in the South Island."

New Zealand has been experiencing record levels of tourism in recent years, putting a strain on the accompanying infrastructure which has often struggled to keep up with demand.

Eight of the country's 12 regional areas reported more guest nights in September, with Otago up 5.2 per cent and Canterbury rising 4.8 per cent. The biggest decreases were seen in Northland, down 4.3 per cent, and Auckland which dropped 4 per cent.

Hotel guest nights rose 4.2 per cent from September 2016 to 1.07 million, while motel nights fell 1.4 per cent to 890,000 and backpacker stays slipped 2.2 per cent to 326,000. Holiday parks rose 3.5 per cent to 382,000.

The hotel occupancy rate edged up 1.5 per centage points to 65.6 per cent, while the holiday park rate was unchanged at 12.7 per cent and the backpacker rate advanced 0.1 percentage points to 35.9 per cent. Meanwhile, the motel rate slipped 1 percentage points to 54.1 per cent.