Kaikōura has been revealed as the region of New Zealand seeing the most with almost 66c in every $1 coming from visitors.
Wellington research firm Dot Loves Data has delved into the EFTPOS and credit card spend since the opening up of the Transtasman bubble to unearth some huge changes in where and how travellers are spending their holidays.
In the three months since the return of quarantine-free travel with Australia, spending data shows that it is largely New Zealanders from urban centres still driving local spend rather than Australian visitors, who remain cautious of overseas travel.
Between 25 March and 25 June the coastal town of Kaikōura was found to have the highest proportion of visitor spend (65.88%) followed by the Mackenzie District (64.76%) and South Wairarapa (62.50%).
Kaikōura's relatively small population of under 4000 means there is an outsized representation of visitor spend, but the figures show that the coastal charm continues to draw visitors.
On the other end of the scale, Gisborne and the East Cape sees just 6.5% of their spend from visitors to the region.
There may be a double edge to the strong tourism spend says Dot Loves Data's government director Justin Lester.
"It shows how heavily tourism destinations rely on visitors and businesses are not sustainable without them," he says.
Visitors from nearby Christchurch made up the largest share of spend (31%) followed by neighbouring Marlborough (15%). Auckland makes up just under a tenth of Kaikōura's visitor spend - which is a trend throughout much of the country.
The importance of being close to a local urban hub is a vital factor in high visitor spend, such a Christchurch or Wellington in the case of South Wairarapa's vineyards.
However when it comes to long-distance travel, it is Aucklanders not Aussies which account for the largest overall traveller spend.
The local economies which were reliant on travel prior to 2020, remain largely dependent on Kiwi tourists rather than overseas travellers. Diversification into other sectors is either slow, or not an option.
There are some positive takeaways. With less disruption to this year's travel compared to 2020, overall spend for the period is up on last year.
Australians remain hesitant to visit New Zealand, and the quarantine free travel is prone to disruption. As a partial travel corridor resumes following regional Covid flare-ups in New South Wales, predict for a slow return to 2019 levels.
"An Auckland lockdown has a much more significant impact on tourism spending than Australian visitors and is the key market for most regional tourism destinations," says Lester
Queenstown currently sees a third of its visitor spend from Auckland (35%), well ahead of tourists from Christchurch (11%) and Wellington (7.5%).
Overall, the favourite destination for Aucklanders is the Coromandel closely followed by the Far North, Tauranga, Whangarei, Rotorua, Kaipara, Taupo and then Queenstown.
Eftpos accounts for around 40 per cent of consumer transactions in New Zealand, giving it significant weight as a metric for overall spend.
Per cent of total spend Eftpos from outside the local area - Highest
Mackenzie District 64.76%
South Wairarapa 62.50%
Westland District 55.39%
Opotiki District 50.50%
Queenstown Lakes 48.80%
Waikato District 48.69%
Ruapehu District 46.66%
Southland District (Te Anau)44.06%
Waitomo District 43.67%
Per cent of total spend Eftpos from outside the local area - Lowest
South Taranaki 12.5%