26 Jan 2020

Nelson pulling out all stops to entertain cruise ships' visitors

7:50 am on 26 January 2020

Two luxury cruise ships are due to arrive in Nelson today in a first for the region that sees just 10 such vessels arrive each year, usually weeks apart.

Nelson is asking the government to relocate some of its services from Wellington to the regions.

Nelson is putting on a bumper Sunday market and entertainment in the city centre. Photo: RNZ/Tracy Neal

The ships arrive within an hour of each other this morning and will bring over 1800 visitors to the region for the day.

Port Nelson's general manager of business development, Eugene Beneke, said the port has worked with the regional development agency to prepare for the influx of arrivals, and the city is putting on a bumper Sunday market and entertainment in the city centre.

"For us to have two in one day is very unique, operationally it's been a little bit of a challenge but we've made sure to make it work because it's not just good for the port but also really good for the region," he said.

Nelson welcomes about 10,000 cruise ship passengers to the top of the South Island each year and Beneke said the local authorities hope to increase that over time.

He said the port has re-organised thousands of containers destined for apple exporters to make way for the visitors, buses and shuttles.

The Seven Seas Voyager is carrying 700 passengers and 400 plus crew, and heads to Sydney from Nelson.

The Maasdam, arriving from New Plymouth, is carrying 1250 passengers and 580 crew.

Port Nelson, Uniquely Nelson and the Nelson Regional Development Authority have been working together closely with tour operators, retailers and service providers to ensure the best possible experience for the visitors to our region.

Both cruise ships depart Nelson Port this evening.