Rush expected for Queen's Birthday travel

Wanaka is becoming an increasingly popular market for residential buyers. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Wanaka is one of many New Zealand destinations hoping for a tourism boost over the long weekend. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery.
Bubbles are bursting.

Local tourists are hitting the road this weekend to reclaim some of the country's best hotspots.

With international visitors locked out - tourism businesses are looking forward to a cash injection from locals over Queen's Birthday weekend.

In Wanaka, motels, hotels and backpackers' are filling up fast. James Helmore from Lake Wanaka Tourism said people were coming from all over the place.

"There's a lot of people driving ... from the lower South Island and also a few people taking advantage of the extra flights out of Auckland, Christchurch and also Wellington," he said.

James Cunningham is the sales and marketing manager of the 35-bed King and Queen Hotel Suites in New Plymouth.

He said the long weekend could not be looking any better.

"We're actually fully booked Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend so lots of leisure guests just looking to escape and come down to Taranaki - big market from Wellington, Napier and also Auckland," he said.

Art Deco Napier was also busy preparing for visitors.

Mark Johnson owns the Colonial Lodge Motel and he is fully booked.

Wellington was not quite so busy - Rob Burnell from Bella Vista said Queen's Birthday was usually a bumper weekend - but that was not the case this year.

"It's not in the city centre - it's close to the airport - normally they would have been fully booked this weekend," he said.

Some tourists were staying away from driving and would instead sit back and take in the views by bus.

Daniel Rode from Intercity said its buses were up and running to most places and some routes were at full capacity.

He said it would be enforcing safe social distancing rules.

Skyline Enterprises runs some of Queenstown and Rotorua's hottest attractions, including gondola, luge and stargazing.

Its chief executive Geoff McDonald was hoping to leverage off all the visitors who were desperate to get out and about.

"We'll get visitation from Southland, Otago, Canterbury - but now Air New Zealand has put a few more flights on that makes a big difference for us ... Rotorua's a bit different with the proximity of Auckland - people will drive and they'll also come across from the Bay of Plenty," he said.

He was hoping this weekend's boost in travel would continue in the lead up to the critical ski season.

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