New Zealand guest nights were flat in July as international visitor numbers fell from last year's peak during the Lions rugby tour, Statistics New Zealand said.

Total guest nights rose to 2.7 million, up 0.1 per cent from July last year, Stats NZ said. A 3.4 per cent decline in international guest nights to 989,000 led the decline, the agency said, though that was just offset by a 2.4 per cent rise in domestic guest nights to 1.7 million

In July 2016, international guest nights surged 16 per cent to more than one million, a record for that month, on an increase in holidaymakers from China, Australia and the US. July 2017 maintained those strong numbers due to a large number of overseas visitors from the UK and Ireland here for the British and Irish Lions rugby tour.

"This July's decrease in international guest nights follows July peaks in both 2017 and 2016. The increase in July 2017 had coincided with the tail end of the Lions tour," accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said.


Total guest nights in the North Island dipped 0.7 per cent to 1.6 million in July, while South Island stays rose 1.5 per cent to 1.1 million.

Motels and holiday parks both registered an increase in stays during the month, up 2.6 per cent to 933,000 and 3.2 per cent to 347,000 respectively, while backpacker nights dropped 7.6 per cent to 305,000. Hotel nights fell 0.5 per cent, but remained the most popular choice with 1.1 million guest nights. The data doesn't include private accommodation.

The occupancy rate across accommodation types weakened to 36.9 per cent in July from 37.2 per cent a year earlier.

In the year to the end of July, 39.9 million guest nights were spent in short-term commercial accommodation, up 2.3 per cent from the previous year. International guest nights rose 3.5 per cent to 17.5 million in the year, while domestic guest nights increased 1.4 per cent to 22.4 million.