New Zealanders got out in force around the country during the school holidays, with some areas enjoying a boost of more than 50 per cent in domestic tourist numbers compared to last year.

New data shows the number of New Zealanders outside of their home region peaked at 550,000 on July 11 - the highest since March.

Kaikoura had a 56 per cent boost in numbers and the West Coast 51 per cent as the South Island benefited most from increased travel by Kiwis, who are now largely confined to this country for holidays as a result of border restrictions.

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Queenstown had a 43 per cent boost and Fiordland was up by 46 per cent.

Throughout the country, all regions had tourism growth with the top performer in the North Island being Wairarapa at 38 per cent, followed by Ruapehu, which had a near 29 per cent boost in numbers.

Auckland had the lowest increase - 6 per cent - during the school holidays, according to figures from Data Ventures in a report commissioned by Tourism New Zealand.

"The increase in travel provided a much-needed boost to communities across the country," said Tourism New Zealand's director commercial, Rene de Monchy.

Tourism New Zealand has been promoting domestic travel through its Do Something New New Zealand campaign.

The campaign, which is running now, encourages Kiwis to head to the ski regions to try something new this winter and will be live until the end of August.

"We'll build on the school-holiday momentum by tapping into the 64 per cent of New Zealanders planning to take a domestic holiday in the next 12 months, and the 40 per cent who intend to travel outside the school holidays," said de Monchy.

He said tougher economic conditions and more people losing jobs would provide further challenges to get people travelling but they could cut back spending by taking shorter holidays or doing day trips.


These types of trips still supported the industry, which last year was worth $40 billion.

Domestic tourism made up 60 per cent of that and local operators are also targeting Kiwis, who spent about $9b a year on overseas trips and now can't.

Wellington Airport boost

School-holiday capacity at Wellington Airport increased by 57 per cent over the two weeks and around 190,000 seats were flown.

Overall, air travel to and from the Wellington region is steadily increasing following the move to alert level 1.

Air New Zealand's flight schedules and capacity are growing each week, Jetstar resumed services on July 1 and regional airlines are back up and running, making it possible to fly to all domestic destinations available before Covid-19.


Matt Clarke, chief commercial officer at Wellington Airport, said Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the aviation and tourism industry - with its passenger numbers falling to only 1 per cent of normal in April.

''However, the move to alert level 2 in May, level 1 in June, and school holidays in July is seeing passengers steadily returning."

With all domestic airlines now operating, our domestic capacity for July is back to around 65 per cent per cent of pre-Covid levels and should be at 75 per cent in August based on current seats available for sale.

Most food and beverage operators and retailers have reopened at the airport.

Wellington has more than 1000 flights a week across 19 domestic destinations.