Kaikōura has made a welcome return to strong growth as the region’s recovery is underpinned by a booming tourism sector.
The latest Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates (MRTEs) from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment showed a 323% increase in income to $12m for the region in December, compared to the same month in 2016.
Destination Kaikōura Glenn Ormsby said the region had gone from strength to strength since State Highway 1 north re-opened mid-December, 13 months after the November 2016 earthquake that struck the region.
“It’s like someone has turned on the lights and it’s ‘here we are again – they’ve found us’. It’s been fantastic,” said Ormsby.
“It’s not as good as it was pre-quake but we are only 30% or so off, so to come back to that in such a short time, well, we’re very happy.”
Annual spend to the end of December was down 34% to $68m but Ormsby said the summer had gotten off to a great start.
“It’s gathering pace and we are seeing some great results. If it keeps going on the way it has been, then it’ll be a fantastic year,” he said.
The accommodation offering was at around 70% of pre-quake levels with a number of outlets expected to re-open or be at full capacity soon.
And the aftermath of the earthquake had given people another reason to visit, said Ormsby.
“One of our new attractions that people seem to be coming to have a look at is our new infrastructure and how the earth has been moved to make it. And, of course, how the sea floor has been lifted up, it’s simply amazing.”
Marlborough, which also suffered from the November 2016 quake, saw spending in December grow 18% to $52m compared to the same month a year ago, although annual spend dropped 1% to $366m compared to the previous 12 months.