Sun shines on operators

Queenstown woke to a dusting of snow on the peaks of the Wakatipu basin, including the...
Queenstown woke to a dusting of snow on the peaks of the Wakatipu basin, including the Remarkables (pictured), in late January. The mercury fell to single digits the night before. Photo by James Beech.
Despite unsettled weather over the Christmas-New Year period, some businesses in Otago's holiday hot spots are reporting record summer results.

Wanaka's Lake Outlet Holiday Park co-owner Glenn Tattersall said it had been a bumper summer.

''In a nutshell we're very happy with the season, both domestically and internationally. Across the board numbers are significantly better than last year.

''You can pretty much talk to anyone in the tourism side of things, whether it's accommodation or activity providers ... everyone's having a cracking year.''

Poor weather over the peak holiday period had little impact.

''The domestic market doesn't let that worry them and they just get on with it and have a nice break regardless.''

Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park lessee Tracey Perkins also reported an increase in summer camper numbers from last year, when the weather had been worse.

Lake Wanaka Tourism general manager James Helmore said local businesses were reporting record summer trading levels, with the growth coming from a variety of markets.

''All the indicators suggest that it's been a very good summer to date and the forward bookings for the next month look very promising as well ... the domestic market's good, the traditional markets from the UK, USA etc, they're all up, and we're getting some good growth out of the Asian markets as well.''

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd.
Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd.
The variable weather had been a plus in some regards, Mr Helmore said.

''It means that people get up and out and into town and they're spending money on cafes and shops and all that sort of stuff, and that's certainly been the case over Christmas-New Year this year.''

He attributed the growth in visitor numbers to the easing of the global financial crisis and domestic factors such as more Canterbury residents settling earthquake claims.

''There's just a little bit more confidence happening around the countryside.''

At the Cromwell Top 10 Holiday Park, below-average weather prompted some visitors to cut their stay short at Christmas and New Year, but numbers had been slightly up on previous years since then, co-owner Catherine Woods said.

The large number of high-profile events in the Cromwell area during the past couple of months - including those at Central Motor Speedway, Highlands Motorsport Park and Gibbston - had helped boost business at the park.

Queenstown residents will remember January as being colder and wetter than usual.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said the less than favourable weather was disappointing for businesses, which rely on typical summer weather.

While the weather had not affected visitor numbers at all ''without question it did have some effect'' on outdoor activities.

January was expected to be a ''pretty good month for weather'' and once business ''is gone, it's gone''.

The weather in February was a different story and Mr Budd hoped tourism operators had been able to make up for lost business, especially since visitor numbers remained high.

Holiday Park Creeksyde co-owner Erna Spijkerbosch said any less-than-summery weather had not been an issue as most campers were international visitors who were not about to leave ''just because it's windy''.

In fact, visitor numbers had been ''slightly better'' than previous years.

Weather had not had a significant impact on Real Journeys' operations other than its aviation operations into Milford, a spokeswoman said.

The company operates TSS Earnslaw and said it had seen an increase in visitors to Walter Peak.

''In Milford and Doubtful sounds inclement weather is sold and often seen as part of the attraction so these products have been business as usual.''


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