The number of tourists staying in Northland in January has taken a dive according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

A wet and stormy January, which saw holiday-makers flee Northland campgrounds in droves, is thought to be one of the factors behind the poor figures.

The ministry's Commercial Accommodation Monitor showed overall guest nights in Northland during January totalled 352,000, a drop of 3.1 per cent compared to January 2015.

The decline was biggest in the Whangarei District (9.2 per cent) and Kaipara (4.1 per cent), while the Far North recorded a small increase of 0.6 per cent. Nationally guest nights increased by 6.1 per cent over the same period.


In the year to the end of January, Northland guest nights were up by 1.2 per cent on the previous year - an increase, but well behind the national figure of 5 per cent.

All Northland's growth was in the Far North where guest nights for the year increased 5.6 per cent to 1,226,000. Whangarei fell by 4.3 per cent to 490,000 and Kaipara dropped by 7.8 per cent to 129,000.

Northland Inc's general manager for promotions and tourism, Paul Davis, said January's bad weather was part of the story, as shown by a significant drop in campground nights coupled with an increase at motels.

Similar areas, such as the Coromandel, showed the same pattern, he said.

The decline in Whangarei was partly explained by a spike in Whangarei guest nights in 2014, thought to have been caused by business travellers associated with the refinery. In effect the city was now returning to normal levels.

The two-year trend for all three districts remained positive, he said.

While the figures showed Northland's growth had slowed and was unevenly distributed across the region, the good news was that total guest nights for the year to the end of January were the highest they had been.

The February figures - Northland's biggest month for international arrivals - were due out around April 12 and would show how numbers were tracking compared to the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, Northland Inc would continue to focus on reducing the region's extreme seasonality by encouraging people to visit outside the summer peak.

That would be helped by new and planned all-weather attractions such as Waitangi Museum (opened in February), Waitangi Mountain Bike Park (due to open in May) and the Hundertwasser Arts Centre (opening date unknown).