New Zealand guest nights rose in May to a reach a record level for the month, driven by higher local stays across the country and more international tourists in the South Island.

Total guest nights in May rose 1.6 per cent to 2.54 million from May last year when they grew 7.3 per cent, Statistics New Zealand said.

The country's accommodation sector is booming, helped by record levels of tourism and migration.

The growth in total guest nights in May was driven by more domestic guest nights spent in accommodation across New Zealand, and more international guest nights in the South Island. Together these increases offset a fall in international guest nights in the North Island.


"This month's increase builds on the stronger guest night growth we saw last May," Stats NZ accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said.

"May is typically one of the quieter months for accommodation providers, as we head into cooler months," McKenzie said.

"This contrasts with the summer peak, when nearly twice as many guest nights are spent in commercial accommodation."

Guest nights in the South Island increased 4.1 per cent to 971,000, while the North Island continued to record the highest number of guest nights, edging up 0.2 per cent to 1.57 million. Domestic guest stays increased 2.5 per cent to 1.49 million while international guest nights lifted 0.4 per cent to 1.05 million.

Hotels were the biggest beneficiary of the increase, with stays up 3.6 per cent to 1.05 million, while motel stays lifted 1.3 per cent to 801,000 and holiday park nights were up 1.7 per cent to 361,000. Backpacker nights dropped for a fifth straight month, down 3.7 per cent to 333,000. The data doesn't include hosted and private accommodation.

The occupancy rate across accommodation types lifted to 37.5 per cent in May from 37 per cent a year earlier.