Kaikoura recovery by the numbers – Media release
14 November 2017
On 14 November 2016 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake caused major damage to Kaikōura. Roads and rail were closed, so tourists
were evacuated by boat and air – leaving Kaikōura’s tourism and hospitality industry cut off from its flow of travellers
right before its peak summer period. This story views the initial impact on the district, and subsequent effects,
through the lens of statistics.
Short-term commercial accommodation changes
In December 2016 Kaikōura guest nights fell 80 percent from the previous December to the lowest-ever level (see figure
1). January 2017 guest nights more than doubled December’s number, but were still 61 percent below January 2016 and
Kaikōura’s usual summer peak. Month-on-month decreases in the Kaikōura district’s total guest nights have generally
lessened since then, to surpass a pre-earthquake equivalent month for the first time in August 2017. However, recovery
has only reached levels seen in quieter months, and in the year ended September 2017, guest nights were 40 percent lower
than the September 2016 year.
While the number of guest nights appears to have recovered to be close to that of quieter months (down 10 percent in
September 2017 from September 2016), guest arrivals are still significantly lower than before the earthquakes (down 40
percent over the same period). Increasing ‘average length of stay’ statistics show that guests arriving at short-term
commercial accommodation are staying for longer – helping to boost guest nights. In the most-recent accommodation data
(September 2017) the average length of stay increased to 2.5 nights, up from 1.6 nights in September 2016.
“This longer average stay is likely being pushed up by recovery workers occupying commercial short-term accommodation,
which was previously usually used by travellers passing through,” accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie
“However, it’s important to note that non-commercial and long-term accommodation, such as temporary villages set up for
recovery workers, aren’t included in our guest night measures.”
Underlying changes to the typical guests using Kaikōura commercial accommodation since the earthquakes are also
reflected in ‘origin of guest’ statistics. In the year ended September 2017, domestic guest nights accounted for 57
percent of total guest nights in Kaikōura, compared with 45 percent in the September 2016 year.
As access to Kaikōura continues to improve, this could help guest nights recover and cause further changes to the type
of guests and how long they stay in Kaikōura.
The changes in guest nights in Kaikōura and the wider South Island
since the earthquakes can be seen in an interactive story map shown in figure 2.
Accommodation survey: November 2017 will be published on 12 December.
Impact on tourism also seen in sales
Retail and tourism-related sales in Kaikōura are usually strongly seasonal; tourism bumps summer sales 50 percent above
the cooler months. Sales in the December 2016 quarter immediately following the earthquake were down 25 percent ($7.4
million) on the December 2015 quarter.
When road access improved in the March 2017 quarter, sales were 25 percent ($8.8 million) lower than for the March 2016
quarter. The most-recent data available in the June 2017 quarter showed sales were down 2.6 percent ($0.6 million) on
the June 2016 quarter (see figure 3).
The September quarter 2017 retail trade survey results will be published on 23 November, which will provide more
up-to-date regional sales figures. Monthly retail electronic card data does not break down to a regional level.
We’ve updated the interactive story map
showing Kaikōura sales since the earthquakes, originally published 29 August 2017. It now includes data from April 2017
to July 2017, shown in figure 4.
Usually resident population relatively unchanged
The estimated resident population in Kaikōura has remained around 3,700 since the earthquakes, despite some people
departing and others arriving. The resident population will include some recovery workers, but will exclude workers and
visitors who do not usually live in Kaikōura.
In June 2017, an estimated 2,080 people lived in Kaikōura township, and 1,640 in the Kaikōura rural area. This compares
with 2,010 and 1,620, respectively, in June 2013.
For media enquiries contact: Melissa McKenzie, Christchurch 03 964 8439, firstname.lastname@example.org
Published 14 November 2017
– maps showing the effects of the earthquake on guest nights across the South Island over time.
– maps showing the effects of the earthquake on retail and tourism-related sales across the upper South Island over
(See attached file: as-kaikoura-sep17-tables.xlsx)