Labour Day tourism picks up

Things are looking tentatively busy across Otago and Southland this Labour Weekend, as New Zealanders support local tourism.

Camp sites across the district were reporting some early bookings.

Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park receptionist Rachel Davidson said it had

experienced a bumper school holidays and busy period post-lockdown but things were finally slowing down this week.

Erna Spijkerbosch, owner of Queenstown Holiday Parks and Motels, Creeksyde, said many adventure-bound tourists preferred a spontaneous approach.

"Campsite-wise New Zealanders don’t tend to pre-book unless it’s marathon weekend, Gibbston Valley Concert or Christmas, New Year’s, they just rock up and we’re very pleased to see them when they do."

She said with Labour Weekend following close on the heels of school holidays, it could make for a slower weekend than usual when international visitors were in town.

"The South Island has a million people, the North Island has fourmillion who can drive without using a ferry or an aeroplane, and so that I think has a little bit of impact."

Jono Edmonds, from Kingston TOP 10 Holiday Park, said there were only a few bookings so far, but he was bargaining on people turning up on the day.

Over at Clutha Gold Cottages in Roxburgh, Christine Bennenbroek said she was fully booked.

"There are definitely a lot of motorhomes on the road for sure, I’ve noticed over the last week or so."

She said she was "lucky" to have a lot of return customers and the weather in Central Otago was helping bring New Zealanders out.

"The bike trail may have noticed [a dip] with no overseas people, but talking to people, they’re noticing a lot more New Zealanders are doing it."

An increasing number of domestic cycling holidays seemed to be a result of a favourite lockdown pastime for New Zealanders, Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said.

The Old Station Cycle Trail, for example she said, was getting more bookings for summer than in the corresponding period last year.

"I think during lockdown a lot of people got back into cycling, so that seems to be driving that and people are building a holiday around that activity."

She said the Labour Weekend was often an opportunity for New Zealanders to take caravans and boats up to the Waitaki lakes ready for visits through the warmer months.

As for the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, she said people had made forward bookings and it was the perfect time to visit.

Hot Tubs Omarama owner Emma Moore said that the Labour Weekend space was selling out fast and cyclists were filling slots on the slower midweek days, but that was nothing unusual.

In Southland, Destination Fiordland manager Madeleine Peacock said there were events in the region and Te Anau she hoped would draw visitors.

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