World Cup, quakes spur hotel price spike

New Zealand hotel prices shot up by the steepest amount in the world last year as the Christchurch earthquake hit supply and overseas visitors poured in for the Rugby World Cup.

Average hotel rates in New Zealand increased 13 percent last year, more than any other country worldwide and well above the global average of 4 percent, according to Hotels.com data.

Christchurch rates increased 32 percent to an average of $130, Wellington by 15 percent to $126 and Auckland by 9 percent to $132.

The Hotels.com Hotel Price Index is based on bookings made on Hotels.com sites worldwide and tracks the real prices paid per hotel room for around 142,000 properties.

Asia Pacific Hotels.com vice-president Johan Svanstrom attributed the change to the strength of the New Zealand dollar, the influx of visitors for the Rugby World Cup and the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes.

New Zealand Hotel Council chief executive officer Rachel Shadbolt said the earthquake was a major driver of the price increases.

"They are [now] operating off such a low base of rooms. And for want of a better word, it's skewed the data somewhat.''

The Hotel Council's own data, due to be released today, shows that in 2010 before the first earthquakes Christchurch had an annual occupancy of about 67 percent for its 3700 rooms.

In 2011 occupancy shot up to 85 percent as the earthquakes reduced rooms available at member hotels to just 850.

Ms Shadbolt said the World Cup had brought significant price increases, particularly in Auckland and Wellington around game days.

"But midweek ... it was very much business-as-usual rates. So they didn't sit on a high rate for the entire six weeks for the Rugby World Cup.''

Because prices were driven by supply and demand, a 13 percent average price increase did not necessarily reflect current hotel rates, she said.

Taupo's average price fell 4 percent, but it remained New Zealand's most expensive destination at $158.

Queenstown was next dearest at $153, while Hamilton was the cheapest of the major centres at $107 a night.

The Hotels.com data shows hotel prices in New Zealand averaged $132, compared with $200 in Australia, $254 in London, and $338 in New York.

Room rates

Average hotel rate change in 2011:

New Zealand +13% to $132

Christchurch +32% to $130

Wellington +15% to $126

Auckland +9% to $132

Hamilton +13% to $107

Taupo -4% to $158

Queenstown -1% to $153

- Nicholas Jones and Teuila Fuatai of the NZ Herald

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