Rotorua is enjoying a surge of consumer confidence as tourists and locals spend up large in the district.

According to figures released by Paymark, there were 6.84 million electronic transactions made on the network in the Bay of Plenty in January, an increase of 8.5 per cent compared to the same month last year.

In total, $324.2 million was spent in the Bay this January.

This was an 8.9 per cent increase in spending from January 2015, up almost $30 million.


The average spend across New Zealand was up 6 per cent for January compared to last year.

People spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post all said there was a real feeling of confidence around the city.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said the findings were unsurprising given the continuous flow of tourists to the region.

"It's been around 12 to 14 months of tracking up. Retail spend has been going up since August and certainly over the Christmas period."

Auckland Anniversary Weekend, along with Waitangi Weekend, brought in extra visitors this year too, he said.

Rotorua Lakes Council economic growth portfolio leader and deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said Rotorua had seen a bumper summer season and was pleased to see the Paymark figures reflected that.

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"It's also consistent with other indicators to how the Bay economy is performing.

"We know our visitor sector has had a bumper season and that's expected to continue through February and into March. Rotorua is seen as a refreshed and vibrant destination."

House of Travel Rotorua director Pam Turner said her business had seen a 20 per cent increase in sales already in 2016 compared with last year.

"Rotorua residents are making the most of the additional capacity the airlines are offering, along with some very reasonable fares. We can't underestimate domestic travel around New Zealand and with Air New Zealand doubling its capacity to Rotorua it's also good for the international market."

She said travellers were making the most of favourable exchange rates.

Inner City Focus Group spokesman and owner of Steiner's, Interiors by Reputation, Mike Steiner, said most of the business people he had spoken to were seeing the best returns in three to four years.

"We are all feeling very confident about the future," he said.

"My business has never really been better ... compared to three to four years ago I'm doubling my sales and have brought in another staff member, something I would not have done back then."

Additional reporting Akuino Olaaiga

Paymark figures: January

* 6.84 million transactions made in January, an increase of 8.5 per cent

* $324.2 million was spent in this January

* Up $30 million

* Retail confidence on a high

* Tourism spend expected to continue to the end of March

- Figures are for the Bay of Plenty