22 Jan 2024

Coromandel businesses say summer has been 'best in a decade'

From Checkpoint, 5:48 pm on 22 January 2024
A view of the coast in Tairua, Coromandel.

A view of the coast in Tairua, Coromandel. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Coromandel business owners are hailing what they say is the best summer in a decade.

After two years of Covid-19 and its lifeline highway washed away in last year's summer storms, it has been a disruptive few years.

But with the road rebuilt, the people have returned - pumping life back into the area.

For a year the Coromandel community has had to cope without the vital link connecting one side of the peninsula from Kopu to Hikuai together. 

For the business community that meant catastrophic losses of over $90 million dollars in trading. 

But since December, a bridge has finally stitched things back together and business is booming once again. 

Kenhindmarsh owns Cathedral Cove Cruises and is also on the board of the Whitianga Business Association and Treasurer of the Mercury Bay Business Association.

He said visitor numbers to the Coromandel are finally picking up. 

"Probably the best season I've had in 10 years of being on the water here.

"I probably took more people in the first eight days of January than I took in the whole of January last year."  

Forward bookings for February are looking strong with plenty of international tourists set to visit, many have already been this month. 

"I has Swiss and South Africans on the boat today and we've had Czechoslovakia, all over the world stuff."

Now the new bridge is open, they have also had more visitors travelling through for day trips, shaving plenty of time off their journey's. 

In Tairua, Maree Smith can not keep up with the demand at her clothing store Get it On. 

"I've had to take on three staff to give you an idea... we're open seven days I'm struggling to keep up with stock and that's not a bad position to be in ... it's tenfold, it's incredible." 

Tairua clothing store owner Maree Smith.

Tairua clothing store owner Maree Smith. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

But before she could find staff, she had to recruit her husband.

"He had to don on one of our fabulous New Zealand made men shirts and come and work his magic and in fact I've got him in store tomorrow because we've got a very big day.

"I've got 20 women coming in after hours for their own in store party and he'll be serving them a glass of bubbles or orange juice and helping me out." 

Manager of Pauanui Pines Lodge Carole Williams said restoring State Highway 25A has been vital for holiday makers on the road.  

"Everybody's really pleased that that road is open, that they don't have to go the long way up top and even the internationals, they're pleased that it's taking time off their journeys, especially if they're coming down from Paihia." 

This summer is purely just catching up, financially they are still behind on last year. 

Williams said there were many times they thought they would not make it through.  

"Well, I don't think we had anyone staying here for weeks, we had no one." 

This summer they have been fully booked up until the first few weeks of January and their 18 units are almost full for next summer too. 

"I think I've only got two units available next summer for the Christmas New Year time everyone's just pre booked ahead."

Many hopeful this will set the tone for the foreseeable future.