Park finding business hard post-quake
It’s been rough for some businesses in Kaikoura after last year’s earthquake.
The 7.8-magnitude quake cut off the tourist trade forcing many local businesses to ask for government help.
It’s been tough going for Kevin and Lynn Cole and their three businesses, Kaikoura Farm Park, Llama Trekking and Wacky Stays unique accommodation.
The experienced business couple had been working hard for 10 years to set up their dream of a country oasis under snow-capped Mt Fyffe.
At the end of last year, their business was finally finished and booked for a good summer season.
Then the earthquake hit, roads closed and visitor numbers plummeted.
‘‘It was going to be our first full season, and it didn’t happen,’’ Kevin Cole said.
With hardly any visitors since the earthquake the costs of running the farm park and caring for 100 animals was mounting.
‘‘We had to give up in July because the animal park wasn’t viable, so we were forced to close it and re-home 60 animals.’’
With only a handful of animals left, Cole hoped the llama trekking business and a small collection of hobby animals would help bring customers back to stay in the unique Wacky Stays accommodation units; a Yurt, house truck, tipi, farmer’s cottage, train carriage and colonial wagon.
The six staff have gone, leaving three part-time wwoofers, but their salaries have to be paid.
The Coles applied for a government wage subsidy, which, by the time it ended in April, was $250 a week for fulltime workers and $150 a week for part-timers.
Struggling businesses were then asked to apply for the Business Recovery Grant Programme (BRGP) to help them survive until State Highway 1 from Picton to Kaikoura reopened again.
Cole said he had started the process of applying for the grant subsidy, but had difficulty finding the time on top of working seven days a week, looking after animals and running a business as well as filling out the multitude of paperwork.
‘‘The government will only support me if I’m a viable business, and if I’m a worthwhile business to Kaikoura,’’ he said.
Kaikoura District Council economic recovery lead Mel Skinner said there were still a few businesses that needed extra support, but these business had to get in touch with her.
‘‘We have support through capability development and we can look at business mentors to come and work with businesses individually.
‘‘There are definitely a few businesses in all different areas that need support so we are looking at ways we can support them and making sure we are looking after people’s wellbeing as well,’’ Skinner said.
Kevin Cole with Wacky Stays’ self-contained colonial wagon with a magnificent view of Mt Fyffe.