Tides Getting Here Clutha Attractions
Friday November 16, 2018


There's a lovely article about the Catlins in Life and Leisure's November issue, if you haven't already seen it.

There will be a full feature in the one off annual "Insider" as well before Christmas. This ad free publication is a great read and one to keep on the coffee table.

Please read on for some stats on how many people have been staying in Clutha, where they have come from along what they've been spending across our district. 

There are also some breakdowns of who is using our information centre network.

Well we can only really measure what we can monitor and all that.

The figures relate to August, September and October - there will always be a slight time-lag with getting data (this is just a snapshot below of what's been happening for full stats and analytics please click attachment at bottom).


The stats about who's staying in Clutha come from the "Commercial Accommodation Monitor" and there is some great news for the district in September (figures are compared with the same month the previous year)

· Total Guest nights rose ↑ 38.3 percent

· International guest nights ↑ 52.7 percent

· Domestic guest nights rose ↑33.6 percent

· Average length of stay rose ↑ from 1.79 nights to 2.17 nights (↑ 21%)

· The overall occupancy rate rose ↑ from 14.1% to 25.4 percent (↑ 80%)

Around 150 properties are listed on Airbnb with a significant number of those not doing the above CAM. The Airbnb properties account for around a 5th of all guest nights in Clutha according to analysis done by infometrics in 2017/18.

Clutha’s domestic market made up 73% of September’s total guest nights.

National Comparison

Clutha had a stellar September with the district having the largest percentage increases by far across the whole country.

Clutha had double the percentage growth in total guest nights (38.3%) of the next nearest which was Central Otago at just over 19%.

Domestically (33.6%) the next nearest nationwide was Waitaki with 27.1. Internationally (52.7%) the next nearest was Central with 33.1% (interesting that all the biggest rises were down South).

This wasn’t the picture across the rest of the country with large international drops for Wairarapa (↓34.9%) Marlborough (↓30.1%), Taranaki (↓27.3%), Northland (↓20.7%) even powerhouses like West Coast (↓20.2%) Wellington (↓15.9) and Rotorua (↓11.3%) all down!

Regional Comparison

1. Dunedin - domestic ↑ 4.8% and international 23.4% ↑. Domestic market makes up 67% of total guest nights

2. Southland - domestic ↑7.9% and international ↑ 31.1%. Domestic market makes up 72% of total guest nights

3. Central Otago - domestic ↑ 16.3% and international ↑ 33.1%. Domestic market makes up 80% of total guest nights

4. Fiordland - domestic ↑ 22% and international ↑ 9.4%. Domestic market makes up just 32% of total guest nights

5. Waitaki – domestic ↑ 27.1% and international ↓ 2.5%. Domestic market makes up 64% of total guest nights.


Clutha had a great September clearly showing that our shoulder seasons are getting busier and importantly people are stopping and staying in Clutha and not just using it as a drive through.

The Pink Concerts in Dunedin at the start of September created a fantastic start to the month for accommodation providers with the whole lower south benefitting it seems.

Spring skiing is historically a mainly local event as the peak for domestic and international visitors is July/August and in particular the school holidays. Great spring snowfall may have upped numbers slightly but interestingly the CAM showed Queenstown and Wanaka were both slightly down domestically compared with September 2017 and Queenstown had just 0.2% increase internationally. So perhaps dispersal from the lakes was not a key factor.

The whole region saw relatively healthy increases particularly internationally. Dunedin was year on year up by just under a quarter while Southland was up by nearly a third with both areas experiencing far lower domestic growth, not even making two digit rises.

Interestingly Fiordland saw its largest domestic increase for some time and had the 2nd lowest international increase achieving less than 10% growth. The international market still makes up nearly 70%! (the complete reverse of any other area)

Central was the other top performer with decent growth in both sectors and being up by a third internationally.

The anomaly regionally was Waitaki showing strong increases domestically up by over a quarter but it was the only area which had a decrease internationally, only 2.5% but still it stands out.

Dunedin getting only 4.8% increase domestically and Southland at 7.9% suggests that perhaps tourist traffic particularly domestic is going from Clutha/Catlins to Te Anau/Fiordland and not staying in Southland en route?

So where are these extra visitors coming from? Internationally figures suggest China. With it featuring third on the MBIE tourism spend (figures in next section but it comes 7th annually to end of Sept 18). We know that Chinese travel agents/tour operators advise coming to New Zealand in the shoulder seasons and it seems people are definitely listening.

With such great increases for the Clutha district accommodation wise for September ($5 million) it is perhaps a little disappointing that the tourism spend for the month was lower than in July ($6 million) and that accommodation still came only 5th in the spend by product category.


Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment Tourism Data

Clutha Tourism spend for September 2018 was $5 Million 


Kiwis accounted for more than 80% of the tourism spend which is slightly higher than the annual average of 76% and well above the national average of 60-65%. 

This very much ties in with the Winter CAM reports which showed exponential growth domestically with falls in the international visitor numbers. 

However Spring tells a different story with the latest September CAM showing large growth internationally with increased numbers of particularly Asian and Chinese visitors to and through Clutha.

The now familiar winter/shoulder season line up of Australia, followed by China for countries which spend the most is in keeping with the national trends. It will be interesting to see how the season pans out as still on an annual basis both Europe and the US are ahead of China. 

Interestingly in September the “Rest of Asia” is also ahead of traditional powerhouses like the UK and Germany. The European Indian summer may be partly a reason for this.

Estimated Tourism Spend September 2018 by RTO

Clutha $5m - Annual Tourism Spend Growth 6%

Dunedin $56m - Annual Tourism Spend Growth 8%

Southland $29m  - Annual Tourism Spend Growth 13%

Fiordland $10m  - Annual Tourism Spend Growth 7%

Central Otago $13m  - Annual Tourism Spend Growth 15%

Waitaki $13m  - Annual Tourism Spend Growth 12%


A slight resurgence for Clutha up 25% from August (historically our slowest/lowest month) and back to same level as June but still intriguingly below July.

Dunedin which traditionally drops down the list of big hitters in winter is back up to 8th nationally and with the first cruise ships arriving at start of October there is plenty to be optimistic about. The “Pink” concerts are believed to have brought in up to $14 million locally yet again reinforcing the success of the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Southland had another bumper month second to only Central in year on year percentage rise. The ongoing increases in international visitors continued as showed in the CAM. Is dispersal from Queenstown and the lakes a factor? Or perhaps dispersal from Fiordland as well which also has one of the country’s strongest international markets?

Fiordland was up 43% on August which shows that September starts to see the return of international travellers seeking lower prices and fewer tourists. The shoulder seasons are getting busier particularly in iconic locations like Milford Sound (it admittedly looks amazing in the snow).

Central seems to continue reaping the rewards of traffic from the lakes seeking that fine wine experience.

The tourism mecca that is Queenstown’s monthly tourism spend was down by over a fifth in September from August which illustrates the difference between winter skiing and spring skiing (their CAM for September was also slightly disappointing). The Australian and international ski market focuses on July/August while domestically the winter school holidays are definitely the peak time. This is despite bumper snow fall for the season and spring with the Otago resorts staying open till mid/late October.

Waitaki saw continued growth with the penguin colony in Oamaru a stellar attraction particularly for the increased numbers of Chinese coming down south and flying into Christchurch with more flights again added. Chinese independent travellers are advised to visit in the shoulder seasons/quieter months and they do! Although a quick look at the September CAM would suggest perhaps they weren’t often actually staying in Waitaki.

October 2018 Stats, Analytics and Insights into Tourists visiting our i-Site and Information Centres

Here's a quick summary of the latest visitor numbers for each area with year on year percentage differences:

Balclutha - 1363 down 51%

Lawrence - 482 down 62%

Milton - 240 down 16%

Owaka - 1013 down 15%

Tapanui - 18 N/A

And a few insights (full stats/analytics and more in attachment below)













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