Park find­ing busi­ness hard post-quake

Kaikoura Star - - OUT & ABOUT - PIPPA BROWN

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.

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