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Accommodation Survey: May 2010
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  12 July 2010

Total guest nights

Total guest nights in short-term commercial accommodation were 1.9 million in May 2010, a 6 percent decrease compared with May 2009.  

The trend had been increasing since December 2008, but appears to have decreased in recent months. The recent decrease in the estimated trend should be treated with caution until more data points are available, as the initial estimates may be revised.

 Graph, Total guest nights

Guest nights by island

Guest nights in the North Island were 1.2 million in May 2010, a 4 percent decrease compared with May 2009.

The trend in North Island guest nights decreased throughout 2008 and has been relatively flat since then. The recent fluctuations in the estimated trend should also be treated with caution.

 Graph, North Island guest nights

Guest nights in the South Island were 0.7 million in May 2010, a 9 percent decrease compared with May 2009.

The trend had been increasing since December 2008, but appears to have decreased in recent months. The recent decrease in the estimated trend should also be treated with caution.

Graph, South Island guest nights 

Guest nights by region

Eleven  of the 12 regions recorded fewer guest nights in May 2010 than in May 2009. The regions showing the largest decreases were:

  • Canterbury, down 27,000 (8 percent)
  • Wellington, down 22,000 (11 percent)
  • Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman, down 16,000 (16 percent).

 The only region showing an increase was Auckland, up 22,000 (6 percent). 

Origin of guests

International visitors contributed 0.7 million guest nights in May 2010, a similar number to May 2009. These visitors provided 35 percent of total guest nights in the North Island and 47 percent of those in the South Island.

Seven of the 12 regions showed a decrease in international guest nights in May 2010 compared with May 2009, led by:

  • Canterbury, down 9,000 (6 percent)
  • West Coast, down 9,000 (24 percent). 

The region with the largest increase in international guest nights was Auckland, up 22,000 (14 percent).

 Graph, International guest nights by region

Domestic guest nights numbered 1.1 million, a decrease of 122,000 (10 percent) from May 2009. Eleven of the 12 regions recorded fewer domestic guest nights in May 2010 than in May 2009.

The regions recording the largest decreases in domestic guest nights were:

  • Canterbury, down 17,000 (10 percent)
  • Wellington, down 17,000 (11 percent)
  • Bay of Plenty, down 14,000 (11 percent)
  • Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, down 14,000 (14 percent)
  • Waikato, down 14,000 (11 percent).

The only region recording an increase in domestic guest nights was Auckland, up 1,000 (less than 1 percent).

 Graph, Domestic guest nights by region

Comparison with short-term overseas visitor arrival statistics

International Travel and Migration: May 2010 shows that short-term overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand in May 2010 were down 600, almost unchanged from May 2009. This follows a decrease of 7,900 (4 percent) in April 2010 compared with April 2009.

The estimated average number of visitors who were in New Zealand during May 2010 was up 1 percent compared with May 2009.

New Zealand resident short-term departures for May 2010 were also up 1 percent compared with May 2009.

Guest nights by accommodation type

In May 2010, three of the four accommodation types had fewer guest nights than in May 2009, as follows:

  • motels, down 74,000 (11 percent)
  • holiday parks, down 38,000 (14 percent)
  • backpackers, down 34,000 (10 percent).

Hotels were the only accommodation type with more guest nights than in May 2009, up 23,000 or 3 percent.

Graph, Guest nights by accommodation type

In May 2010, hotels had the largest share of total guest nights (40 percent), recording their highest share of total guest nights since the survey began. Motels had the next highest share (32 percent), followed by backpackers (16 percent). 

Occupancy rate

Excluding holiday parks, the occupancy rate in May 2010 was 39 percent, compared with 42 percent in May 2009. Accommodation capacity, excluding holiday parks, was 2 percent above the May 2009 level.

Hotels had the highest occupancy rate (47 percent) of all the accommodation types in May 2010, followed by motels (37 percent), and backpackers (33 percent).

Excluding the holiday parks category, 11 of the 12 regions had lower occupancy rates in May 2010 than in May 2009. The Auckland region had the highest occupancy rate (53 percent), followed by Wellington (49 percent), and Bay of Plenty (42 percent).

 Graph, Occupancy rate by accommodation type

Response rates

Response rates by accommodation type for May 2010
Accommodation type Establishments responding to questions on guest nights, guest arrivals, and stay unit nights Proportion of guest-night estimate from actual data Proportion of origin-of-guest estimate from actual data
Hotels 82 96 84
Motels 82 85 66
Backpackers 79 85 66
Holiday parks 78 85 72
Total 81 89 74


When respondents do not answer questions in this survey, Statistics New Zealand estimates the missing information based on data from similar establishments in the same or similar regions. For more information, please see the 'Technical notes' section or contact Statistics NZ.

Accommodation pivot tables

The Accommodation pivot tables provide more detailed information, breaking the survey variables down by regional tourism organisation areas and territorial authority areas. These tables can be downloaded from the Statistics NZ website (

Survey sponsorship

The Accommodation Survey is a monthly survey undertaken by Statistics NZ and sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism.

For technical information contact: 
Christine Sadler or Brylee Wayman
Christchurch 03 964 8700

Next release ...

Accommodation Survey: June 2010 will be released on 11 August 2010.

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