Campervans pulling in the tourist cash
Campervan tourism is worth almost half a billion dollars to the New Zealand economy, according to a survey funded by the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry.
The survey, by tourism research firm Covec, found domestic and international campervan travellers - excluding Rugby World Cup travellers - spent $486 million in New Zealand last year, excluding international airfares. When airfares are included, the figure rose to $547.2m.
It found there were almost 64,000 campervan hires last year, 10,220 by New Zealand residents and 53,710 by international tourists.
International tourists hired campervans for an average of 15.8 nights - and stayed in New Zealand for an average of 19.7 nights. The average domestic campervan hire was 7.9 nights, and domestic travellers had an average trip length of 9.1 nights.
On average, international tourists spent $3836 per adult over the duration of their trip - or $195 per night, while domestic travellers spent $1787 per adult or $196 per night.
Most international campervan tourists came from Australia, followed by Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.
THL chief executive Grant Webster said the results confirmed the value of the British and European markets.
"There's a view in the industry at the moment that those traditional markets are in decline, there's a sense we shouldn't fight as hard for them, but we should focus on them more.
"The Germans and the English really see New Zealand as a touring destination; they're prepared and keen to park up somewhere and have a cup of tea and enjoy the environment and the sights."
China has become New Zealand's second-largest tourism market by spend, according to recent figures from MBIE, but Webster said Asian campervan tourists were still a relatively small proportion of all international campervan travellers.
THL was working to change that by educating the Asian market on the benefits of campervan trips.
The research reinforced the value of campervan tourism to New Zealand's regions, he said.
Forty-six per cent of overseas tourists visited both the North and South islands, compared with 20 per cent of domestic tourists.
Canterbury was the most visited region by international campervan travellers, with 70 per cent driving through the region. All regions apart from Taranaki were visited by more than a quarter of overseas tourists.
Webster said New Zealand's campervan sector was still in decline following the global financial crisis, and it was hard to predict what next year would bring.
"But it's clearly still a valuable sector."
The domestic market had declined in recent years as the strength of the kiwi dollar prompted locals to holiday overseas.
THL held about 45 per cent of the campervan market, he said.
The survey canvassed campervan operators and included 1719 responses to an online survey of campervan tourists.