Queenstown holiday listings empty over Christmas, no cheaper

Kiwis have been told to plan a little further afield this Christmas, in the aim of spreading summer tourism spend into regional New Zealand. However, holiday booking trends reveal most New Zealanders are sticking to tradition and staying close to home.

Holiday bookings websites have shown locations such as Queenstown and Bay of Plenty to be unusually empty over Christmas, with only three weeks to go.

Booking data from Expedia Group lettings website Bookabach reveal that holiday houses around Auckland and urban areas are – unsurprisingly – booked out for Christmas. Holiday towns of Taupō and Raglan are all but booked out for Christmas period of December 23-28 with fewer than 20 beach-side baches left on the site.

While there are slim pickings in Northland and Rotorua, there has not been much of a change in price, with New Zealanders spending an average of 2 per cent more on accommodation.

If you’ve left holiday planning to the very last minute, there are few bargains but plenty of choice left.

A spokesperson for Bookabach says in Queenstown the website has “more than 300 properties left to book, which is rare for this time of year”. However the average price of $486 a night is almost double the cost of other Christmas hotspots – such as Rotorua, where the average is $262.

The website says this is down to the lack of international visitors to the region who normally account for bookings in lakeside accommodation for this period.

Airbnb listings for Queenstown are under a third (33 per cent) full between December 23-28. In spite of some areas being less busy than usual, Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s country manager for New Zealand and Australia, said it was “heartening” to see New Zealanders “actively looking to support regional areas”.

Bookabach also said they had an excess of empty properties in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions, with over 110 and 140 baches respectively left empty.

The biggest seasonal increase on prices were in holiday towns within a couple hours’ drive from Auckland, including Mangawhai Heads – up 19 per cent from $288 to $357 – and Whitianga, which at $311 was 24 per cent more expensive than during the off-season.

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