No vacancy in Greymouth as TranzAlpine returns

 Photo: KiwiRail
Photo: KiwiRail
The 'no vacancy' signs were lit up throughout Greymouth last night, as moteliers reaped the benefit of a revitalised TranzAlpine train and a school holiday boost from domestic tourists.

Moteliers who just three months ago watched in horror as the borders closed and tourists vanished, are now at the forefront of the strong turnaround.

Kiwi Rail is currently running the TranzAlpine with five carriages on weekdays and six on weekends; from September it will run from Friday to Monday.

Bella Vista Greymouth owner Nic Neane said the school holidays had been fantastic.

"They are all coming on the train, with a few driving. It's been a bit of a mixture with some from down south, and a couple of weeks back we had four from Hamilton.

"Some are staying two nights and having a good look around, basing themselves here then driving to Hokitika or Westport."

It is the same happy story up and down High Street.. At the Coleraine Motels, owner Stuart Swan said the clientele was mixed these holidays, with some coming off the train, and others from corporate trade.

"The train has been full, which has been good. (A few months ago) everyone was in the same boat, with not much happening."

At the adjacent High Park Motels and The Gables Motels, Lynda Tucker said they also had had a mixture of people off the train and self-drives, with more families during the holidays.

"The train has definitely helped."

With the end of the school holidays now in sight, she expected things would quieten down and probably pick up again in the September holidays.

Kiwi Rail confirmed yesterday it would move the TranzAlpine to four days a week from September.

It was booked out most days since restarting, and just five seats remain on tomorrow's train, and five on Sunday. It is also sold out for some days in August, when it will be reduced to weekend travel.

In September, the train will move to a four-day spring schedule and the fare will rise from $75 to a starting fare of $109.

It will again run daily in the September school holidays.

Development West Coast regional tourism manager Jim Little said DWC had been working with Christchurch NZ and Christchurch International Airport for a large domestic marketing campaign which would also be used in Australia, when it was safe for trans-Tasman travel.

A pre-school holiday campaign will start in late July and run through to October targeting Canterbury, Nelson, Otago, Auckland and Wellington.

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