Coromandel packs in visitors
A record summer season of visitors is predicted with the good and the bad of it boosting charitable causes, keeping hospitality staff run off their feet and causing one way bridge queueing chaos on numerous days in the town of Tairua.
Beaches were packed as a string of sunny days and surf provided the perfect holiday canvas, but the heat drew holidaymakers not only to the beaches but inland to swimming holes and bush destinations.
“We’re in for a record summer season,” says Hadley Dryden, Destination Coromandel general manager
He says tourism providers expect availability for accommodation may free up a little this week onwards for those keen to make the most of summer.
New World Whangamata owner Neville Singh says staff ensured the supermarket coped with the increase in customers who, on the busiest days, queued to the very back of the store.
“It was one of the busiest we’ve had,” he says. “We track numbers but I haven’t got them yet. There were a lot of people in town. It’s beginning to slow, it’s busy but not crazy now.”
Thames-coromandel District Council is gauging numbers of visitors from wastewater and water usage and getting anecdotal reports of a bumper season from business associations. Their last peak population survey was done two years ago and these figures are supplemented by reports from Destination Coromandel and others.
An anecdotal report will be released later this week.
Prescott’s Garage at the SH25 turnoff junction between Whangamata, Pauanui and Tairua ran out of petrol and drivers had to be shepherded off the main highway where they were queued to fill up.
But running out of petrol was not the biggest problem for owner Bill Prescott, whose garage toilets are the real attraction.
Bill’s appeal for assistance with the septic tank pumping has so far fallen on deaf ears at the Thames-coromandel District council’s Tairuapauanui community board. With 3500 gallons of water going through the toilets in just four days, he has closed them at 6pm and the evidence of customers’ desperation in stacked tyres out the back of the garage is testing his patience.
“The toilet is absolutely not coping. If we don’t do something, we may be forced to shut them down. It’s basically the first set of toilets after Bombay.”
For charities and schools, the busy season of visitors was a boon to fundraising efforts.
Tairua School Wine and Food Festival, which featured the Jordan Luck Band as headlining act, drew record numbers and raised tens of thousands of dollars. Similar events held in Cooks Beach and Whenuakite will boost the coffers of schools along the Coromandel’s east coast.
The Auckland Rescue Helicopter and Coromandel Rescue Helicopter were kept busy with numerous daily missions in and around the Coromandel and Whangamata CRV GJ Gardner Coastguard clocked up 78 hours in the capable hands of volunteers who were called upon to rescue and return boaties safely to port in the month of December.
On two occasions last month, coastguard volunteers had to tow yachts that had gone aground or suffered engine failure.
On Saturday, crew helped a man in his 70s suffering a medical condition. He was flown to Thames Hospital in a moderate condition.
State Highway 25 at Tairua was backed up for several hours on numerous days throughout the holiday period.