Hotels and motels thrived after 1970 thanks to growing numbers of international and domestic tourists. Both faced increasing competition from alternative forms of accommodation, such as camper vans and holiday-park cabins.
An increasing number of international budget tourists stimulated the growth of backpacker hostels, often with similar facilities to hotels. The earliest such hostel to open in New Zealand belonged to the Youth Hostels Association (YHA) in 1932. There were 316 backpackers’ hostels by 2001, and 466 by 2008.
Heritage New Zealand, the country’s main historic heritage agency, has 150 hotels and two motels listed on its register of historic places. Some of the hotels are still used as accommodation. The motels are actually converted houses, and the fact that they are motels is not relevant to their registration. Perhaps not enough time has elapsed for purpose-built motels to be seen as treasured heritage buildings.
Serviced apartments were available from the early 1990s. They provide accommodation and kitchen facilities in apartment buildings, and some offer the option of hotel services such as in-house dining. Serviced apartments also function as a form of property investment, with units owned by investors and managed by accommodation firms.
Changes in the hotel sector
In the 1990s, large modern hotels, almost invariably bearing the names of international hotel chains, opened in every city, primarily thanks to liquor-law reform. Many traditional ‘drinking hole’ hotels closed down. Many hotels, including Wellington’s once-grand Waterloo, were converted to backpackers’ hostels.
Ministry of Tourism figures show that the trend for larger hotels continued after 2000. Despite a slight fall in the numbers of hotels between 2001 and 2006, they provided over 4,000 extra rooms between them.
Best country hotel
Since 2000 the Hospitality Association of New Zealand has run a competition to find the best country hotel in New Zealand. Winners have included The Honest Lawyer Country Pub in Nelson (2000), the Highwayman Hotel in Dunback (2003), and the Awakino Hotel in Mōkau (2007).
Survival of the small hotel
The traditional small hotel is far from dead, particularly outside the major cities. In 2006, hotels with fewer than 20 rooms outnumbered those with 100 or more rooms by two to one. Some, such as the Martinborough Hotel in the Wairarapa, have been converted into luxury boutique hotels, but many have stayed as they were, providing simple overnight accommodation for travellers.