'Very, very good' summer for town

Margaret and Colin Dawson, of Dunedin, soak up the sun on the shores of Lake Wanaka yesterday. Photo by Mark Price.
Margaret and Colin Dawson, of Dunedin, soak up the sun on the shores of Lake Wanaka yesterday. Photo by Mark Price.
The sun is shining at last and accommodation providers in Wanaka are starting to make hay.

That is the message from the town's tourism industry - some parts of which are still recovering from a poor spring.

Figures for November released by Statistics New Zealand appear to confirm camping grounds and backpacker accommodation in particular lost out because of the disruption to tourist traffic caused by the September 10 slip at Diana Falls on State Highway 6 at the Haast Pass.

The highway is open during the day but still closed at night while New Zealand Transport Agency contractors make it safe.

Business development executive for Lake Wanaka Tourism Geoff Marks said yesterday the closures had ''quite an impact on travel plans for many visitors''.

However, early indications were that Wanaka had had a ''very, very good'' summer so far, despite the weather.

''Anecdotal reports are all very good from the accommodation sector, and most importantly we are hearing from operators that forward bookings through February and into March are also looking very positive.''

Compared with November 2012, total guest nights for New Zealand in November 2013 were up 6.7%.

But in Wanaka, there was a drop of 1.7% - international nights down 5.7% and domestic up 5.5%.

The worst affected were holiday parks, down 20.7%, followed by backpackers, down 11%.

Motels and apartments were up 14.4% and hotels 9.5%.

For the year to the end of November, total guest nights for Wanaka were down by 0.2% - international down by 2.6% and domestic up by 2.7%.

For the same period, hotels had a gain of 7.2% and backpackers a gain of 3.3% but motels and apartments dropped by 2.4% and holiday parks by 5.5%.

New Zealand had a 3.9% increase in guest nights for the year.

The statistics show Wanaka accommodation capacity, aside from holiday parks, declined 6.6% over the year - with an 18.9% decrease in motel/apartment capacity and a 5.1% drop in backpacker accommodation.

There was an increase of one new hotel and one new motel during the year but the number of backpackers dropped by two.