Visitors flock to Auckland in record-breaking summer

Auckland tourism officials are celebrating the end of a "phenomenal" summer, with visitor numbers up almost 11 percent on last year.

Just-released figures show a record 824,000 people visited Auckland between December 2015 and February, just over half of them from overseas.

There was double-digit growth in the Chinese visitor market, with 85,616 arrivals -- up 16.9 percent. Australians also flocked to the city, up 5.9 percent to 87,952.

"We've never had visitation like this," says Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development chief executive Brett O'Riley.

"We're seeing that growth from domestic and international visitors, and particularly strong growth from the Chinese market."

Mr O'Riley says he'd heard anecdotally tourism was booming, and this is proof.

"I'm not surprised, because I think we've, working with our partners, invested a lot of time and effort over the last few years in driving visitation to Auckland. We've focused on the Australian market, which is still the largest."

Visitors flock to Auckland in record-breaking summer

January was also a record month for Auckland, with 715,000 guest nights -- up 3.8 percent. Mr O'Riley says upcoming new hotel developments in the city should ease some of the accommodation pressures operators are feeling.

Prime Minister John Key turned the sod on the construction of a $200 million five-star hotel on Wynyard Quarter just last month.

And Auckland's not the only region that's had a bumper tourism summer. Statistics NZ says guest nights across New Zealand were up 7 percent in February.

"The rise for February follows a record high in January," business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said. "Guest nights have been rising for almost two years."

Business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly put it down to warm weather and -- though this could be considered a little cheeky -- the leap year.

Despite Auckland's success, the South Island led the way with February guest nights up 7.8 percent, compared to a 6.5 percent rise in the North.

International guests drove the boost, up 8 percent, with domestic guests up 6.1 percent.

No regions saw a decline.