Domestic Tourism Analysis: School Holidays’ Halo Effect

11 August 2020

With winter breaks to the Pacific Islands and Australia ruled out in 2020, DOT Loves Data analysis shows there was a clear halo effect surrounding New Zealand’s main population centres, with Kiwi families escaping to destinations within 3-4 hours drive of where they live. The reduced numbers of flights and higher travel costs show the preferred mode of travel is currently the family car and Kiwis are not travelling too far from home.


Great Barrier Island boomed with Aucklanders escaping from the city to a new kind of island paradise. On 4 July total consumer spending was 48.8% higher than comparable 2019 figures, with accommodation providers run off their feet.

Other surge areas in the North Island were Waiheke Island, the Western Bay of Plenty settlements of Waihi Beach and Katikati, the twin South Wairarapa towns of Greytown and Martinborough, Whakatane, the Coromandel, and Taupo.

In the South Island, total spend was up significantly in Timaru, which is used for a stop-off point to other South Island destinations, closely followed by Hanmer Springs, Nelson and Tasman.

Provincial Hotels and Motels back in business

Regional hotels and motels were the biggest winners over the weekend with accommodation spend in Western Bay of Plenty up over 100%. Greytown and Martinborough were also up more than 100%, closely followed by Wairoa (up 90%), Waipa (up 80%) and Whakatane (up 70%).

In the South Island, Hanmer Springs led the charge with accommodation spend in the Hurunui catchment up more than 80%. Hanmer was followed by Kaikoura, Tasman, Buller and Timaru.

The Halo Effect

Each of these surge locations has some common factors. They are within 3 hours driving distance of the large population centres of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Tauranga. They also provide affordable accommodation options and family-friendly activities.

International Destinations

Areas struggling compared with 2019 remain international destinations, airport hubs and New Zealand’s largest cities.

Although Queenstown reported an increase in activity, at its school holiday peak spending was still down by 25% compared with 2019. Auckland continues to struggle with the Auckland Airport precinct comprising Mangere and Otahuhu down 33.2% and Auckland CBD down 26%.

City Accommodation: Hotels and Motels

Outside of quarantine facilities, hotels and motels within New Zealand cities continue to struggle:

  • Hamilton – down 75%
  • Christchurch – down 71.7%
  • Queenstown – down 67.9%
  • Rotorua – down 38.4%
  • Wellington – down 35.3%