Tourism in New Zealand ? Are these your holiday destinations this summer?

Tourism in New Zealand ? Are these your holiday destinations this summer?

Imagine having more than 40,000 tourists, or 10 times the size of your population, visiting your local area this summer. What will that be like?

I live in Tasman, New Zealand, cosied up in an enviable lifestyle of sunshine, national parks and endless bike and walking trails.

Now consider this equation


Come Christmas, many of the locals not caught up in tourism and hospitality industries grumble and moan because our quiet and cruisy region gets flooded with visitors. But spare a thought for the asset managers and planners trying to work out how to meet the increased demand on water in drought prone periods or the pressure on sewerage systems during peak holiday times.

The challenge of being a holiday destination and dealing with a massive seasonal influx of visitors is faced by a few Councils around New Zealand, Thames-Coromandel (with beautiful Whitianga and Whangamata) and the Far North (think idyllic Paihia) were examples that immediately came to mind but when I set about finding out the magnitude of the challenge I was surprised by my findings.

Statistics New Zealand gather monthly guest figures at a territorial level. I compared the 2014 Estimated Resident Population (ERP) figure of each TA with the December Guest Arrivals as identified in the Tourism Accommodation Survey. It’s important to remember that the guest arrivals are identified through accommodation providers, so the figures are just a starting point when trying to assess visitor numbers.

Territorial Authority 2014 ERP Guest Arrivals %
1. Mackenzie District 4320 48509 1122.9
2. Westland District 8640 69302 802.1
3. Kaikoura District 3640 20903 574.3
4. Queenstown-Lakes District 30900 158098 511.6
5. RuapehuDistrict 12450 23557 189.2
6. Hurunui District 12200 20623 169.0
7. Buller District 10550 17831 169.0
8. Grey District 13600 21998 161.8
9. Rotorua District 68500 109593 160.0
10. Taupo District 35100 53528 152.5

Nelson and Tasman just scrape into the top twenty but it is the tiny councils of MacKenzie, Westland and Kaikoura that top the list when comparing population to visitor numbers.

Imagine the challenges to these councils dealing with this influx over summer… not to mention the even greater challenge of finding a spot for my sunbed at the beach!

But these issues are not limited to NZ – probably the biggest seasonal or event-based population growth is the City of Sturgis, South Dakota in the US. At the time of the annual Motorcycle Rally – in August each year – the population swells from just 6,500 to over 700,000, just for a week.

Apparently the line for the public toilets is a killer…

Penny - Population expert

Based in New Zealand, Penny primarily looks after our Kiwi clients but also lends her expertise to the Australian context. Penny has extensive experience as a Communication Manager in Local Government and has a degree in Business and Communications. She also brings a breadth of generalist management experience in fields as varied as research, civil defence, project and event management, marketing and training. Penny’s knowledge combined with the .id tools help clients work with their communities to empower grass roots decision-making, advocacy and grant applications, and focus on strengthening council-community relationships. Penny has a rural property and enjoys growing and eating food and wine, which she runs, walks, bikes or swims off, when she’s not in the art studio.

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