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Statistics New Zealand accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said January was typically the height of the peak season for many accommodation operators, and usually when records were set.
Nine of New Zealand's 12 regions reported increased guest nights. Overall guest nights rose 1.4% against January last year to hit 4.97 million.
Hotels and holiday parks were especially busy, having more international guest nights in January 2018, but fewer New Zealanders elected to stay in motels than in January last year, she said.
Of all accommodation types, hotel guest nights rose the most in January, up 6%, boosted by both domestic and international guest nights, while guest nights spent in holiday parks rose 3.2%, driven by increased international guest nights.
New Zealand has had a booming tourism sector in recent years due to low airfares, and the weakening kiwi, BusinessDesk says.
North Island stays rose 0.9% to 2.9 million and South Island guest nights gained 2.1% to 2.1 million.
In the South Island, international guest nights rose 2.9% to 1.1 million while domestic guest nights were up 1.2% to 998,000.
In the North Island, international guest nights lifted 3.2% to 1 million while domestic guest nights were down 0.3% to 1.85 million.
The largest increases were in Canterbury, where guest nights were up 11% on a year ago to 661,000 and Southland, where they rose 6% to 155,000 guest nights.
Motel stays fell 3.4% with a 0.6% gain from international visitors to 519,000 offsetting a 5.9% decline in domestic guest nights to 803,000.
Motel occupancy was 69.6% against 70.3% a year ago.
Backpacker guest nights fell 2.3% to 580,000 with an occupancy rate of 57.3% down slightly on 57.6% last year, while holiday park stays lifted 3.2% to 1.68 million at an occupancy rate of 43.2%, up from 40.5%. - Additional reporting BusinessDesk