The tills haven't stopped ringing for Northland's tourism and retail sectors with almost all saying this festive season has been the best ever for business.

Temperatures in the mid to high 20Cs coupled with a lack of accommodation in other popular tourist destinations such as Queenstown and Auckland worked in Northland's favour as holidaymakers headed up north for their Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Painter Joel Tuck is in New Zealand on an eight-month sabbatical with his family from the Netherlands and spent about 10 days in Russell before setting up tent at the Blue Heron Holiday Park at Tamaterau yesterday.

Mr Tuck, wife Esther Debruin and their children Tui, 10, and Moa, 7, will spend three days in Whangarei before heading to Maunganui and they loved a host of things about Northland.


He was born in Auckland but left with family for the United Kingdom when he was 1 and later moved to Holland.

"The weather, white sand and blue water, kauri forest and just history around the Treaty of Waitangi. Our family from Holland have already visited Northland," Mrs Debruin said.

Her father recommended the Blue Heron Holiday Park which she said was a beautiful holiday park by the waterfront.

Park manager Trevor Kehely said demand for accommodation has steadily gone up since Labour weekend in October last year, increasing to 80 per cent or more since the start of December.

Elaine McGough, co-owner of the park, said she and husband Grant put the business on the market on and off over the years but withdrew the sale after seeing "astonishing" growth in Northland's tourism sector over the past year.

She said they've had the best December ever and heaped praise on Whangarei which she said has grown as a city and a tourist destination.

Elsewhere, the Schnappa Rock Restaurant and Bar in Tutukaka has been rocking this festive season and owner Nick Keene has had to double his workforce to cope with demand.

"This is our 11th summer and it's been the busiest December and start of January.

"Sometimes we serve mains after 11pm so basically we go the whole day until people go out."

He bought the Wahi restaurant at Oceans Resort in Tutukaka and employs 43 people between his two businesses.

"Christmas and New Year's been really good and hopefully it carries on in January. The whole of Tutukaka coast has been buzzing this festive season for a combination of reasons like marketing, attractive places to visit and the image of a clean and green Tutukaka," Mr Keene said.

Craig Johnston, chairman of Business Paihia, runs a dive charter company and said some of his clients were forced to book accommodation in Kaitaia and travelled to Paihia for dive tours.

"Paihia has really hit a bit of a purple patch and it's on par with the heydays in the 80s and 90s when the town was rocking. There's been a good vibe in town and clear, fine weather has had a big impact," he said.

A one-way section of Williams Rd in central Paihia will be closed for a party when the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas visits on January 12 and again on February 4.

Mr Johnston said the cruise ship would bring 5000 tourists to Paihia on each visit during an already busy period.

He said all businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector in Paihia were doing very well.

Northland tourism leader Jeroen Jongejans said this festive season was much better than the previous one when rain kept holidaymakers away from the region.

He said a significant increase in international tourist arrivals, change in holidays plans from the South Island to Northland because of the Kaikoura earthquake, hard to secure accommodation in Queenstown, and weather meant more people spent their time in Northland in December.