The Tourism Industry Association says hotel occupancy rates hit a 10-year high last year, with big influxes of visitors from China and the United States injecting millions of dollars into the economy.
But it warns that profits still lag behind Australia, and room rates may need to rise to encourage investment.
The association's hotel sector manager, Sally Attfield, said hotel members reported 76 percent occupancy for 2014, up three points on the year before.
"This reflects both the improvement in New Zealand's economy and the increase in international visitor arrivals we saw during the year."
She said - thanks to strong marketing by Tourism New Zealand, the success of The Hobbit films and the recovering global economy - international visitor numbers were up five percent.
Hotels reported more Chinese guests and visitor numbers from the United States are returning to pre-global financial crisis levels.
Overall, international visitor numbers were up five percent for the 12 months to Novembe 2014.
She said the average daily rate was also up by almost $5, taking it to $144.
"However, our room rates still generally lag Australia so we have some ground to make up to ensure hotels have sustainable returns that encourage investment."
Ms Attfield said hoteliers were already bracing themselves for a busy first quarter, with the Cricket World Cup and the Chinese New Year adding to an already busy peak season.
"We anticipate there are going to be some pinch points, particularly in January and February."