New Zealand guest nights rose to a record level for the month of May with Rotorua up 10,000 people compared with the same time last year.

There were 149,276 guest nights spent in Rotorua in May, seeing accommodation at a 40.89 per cent occupancy rate for the month according to Stats NZ's Accommodation Survey.

Guest nights in May reached about 50 per cent of the guest nights seen in January, while July, due to school holidays, typically sat about 60 per cent.

The survey collects data for guests staying in short-term commercial accommodation such as hotels, motels, backpackers, and holiday parks.

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Hosted and private accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts, holiday homes and Airbnbs, are excluded.

A spokesman for Destination Rotorua said Rotorua's guest nights were on the rise due to the sustained investment in domestic and international marketing initiatives.

"The Famously Rotorua campaign has 80 per cent of its marketing spend directed at the shoulder and low seasons.

"This focus on shoulder and low seasons also extends to the conference and business events market."

The spokesman said there had also been an investment from tourism operators into products, experiences and people "making our tourism proposition attractive year round".

"Famously Rotorua is changing the perceptions of Rotorua, raising awareness of all there is to do in the destination and encouraging repeat visitation throughout the year."

Sport of Kings manager Tristen Williams said it had been an okay winter with things "chugging along".

"I would say a lot of those visitors would include people staying in Airbnb because for us at least it's been quieter this year."

Williams said bookings were already coming in for next summer so the rising guest nights looked to continue.

"Hoping the weather will start to warm up soon and we'll have a gorgeous summer."

Rotorua i-SITE executive manager Graham Brownrigg said even in the winter months Rotorua was still a preferred holiday destination, particularly for Aucklanders.

He said there was a drop in European visitors this year with the World Cup in Russia and so it was pleasant to see the numbers had still gone up.

"The domestic market has been doing a lot more travel.

"We have a spa and wellness drawcard here and that kicks in through the winter months, people who come down here just for a short time to experience that part of what Rotorua has to offer."

He said the good thing about Rotorua was the wide range of attractions for people.

"Most of our operators are evolving and changing and adding new things."

He said it was also good to see businesses such as Motion Entertainment and the 3D Trick Art Gallery which had indoor offerings.

3D Trick Art Gallery marketing director Tyler Kim said it had definitely been a busy winter.

"Compared to last winter we've had an extra 15 per cent coming through the door and that's a lot for us."

During the school holidays they had anywhere from 200 to 400 people through the door each day, he said.

"About 50 per cent of those visitors were coming from Auckland, then another 30 per cent were from elsewhere in the country."