Tripping the Coro
Region voted best spot in NZ for having a tiki tour
The Coromandel has been voted the best place in New Zealand for a road trip — but it’s mostly bach owners hitting the road for now.
BMW New Zealand surveyed 1000 Kiwis on their immediate travel plans post-Covid-19 and almost four in five planned a domestic drive holiday, with the Coromandel being top of the list for a tiki tour.
“New Zealanders have got more freedom than we’ve had in the last seven weeks and we are all looking forward to being able to socialise, dine out, visit shops and travel around the country,” says Thames-Coromandel District Council Mayor Sandra Goudie, who’s pushing the “go local” campaign.
The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association is also encouraging its members to get out and support motorhome-friendly towns.
German visitors Christian Munz and Marvin Haeger were relaxing at a sunset freedom camping site in Tairua this week, having spent the day at Hot Water Beach, where they were among only about a dozen others. They were headed up The Pinnacles walk on Tuesday, having spent the entire level 4 in an Airbnb in Russell and level 3 in Mangonui.
The upbeat pair won’t get to the South Island as planned but hope to travel to Australia and return if transtasman routes are opened up.
“It’s been a good thing, being in lockdown here because New Zealand managed the coronavirus much better than other countries,” Christian said.
“We’ve had a unique experience,” added Marvin. “We still have time to see everything we want to in the North Island and places will be more lonely now, with no other tourists — just more Kiwis.”
But the campervans have not arrived in numbers just yet, according to information centres.
Whangamata¯ Information Centre volunteer Kay Baker said while the town had got busier with the return of bach owners during level 2 pandemic alert rules, she believed domestic visitor numbers were still very low and the need to open was not urgent.
“Ideally, we will reopen in level 1. We have to be careful because we’re volunteers and a lot of our volunteers are over 70.
“Until we see campervans coming into town, there isn’t the rush.”
Waihı¯ Information Centre is open 10am-4pm seven days, and while inquiries for bike hire had begun, only a few people had entered on Monday.
Waihı¯ Gold Discovery Centre owner Eddie Morrow said the centre was on reduced hours of 10am-4pm and optimism was not a strategy.
“As tourism people, we tend to be an optimistic group, but at the moment, we need to be real.
“The in-vogue word at the moment is ‘pivot’.
“If you had a whole lot of international visitors before, how can you appeal to the domestic market?
“It’s certainly going to be challenging times.
“Plan for the worst, hope for the best, but have a plan,” says Eddie.
He said while Tourism New Zealand was focused on promoting domestic travel by New Zealanders, many would not have much disposable income and everyone was being encouraged to explore their own backyard.
Destination Coromandel, the regional tourism operator, includes Waihı¯, Waihı¯ Beach and Paeroa in its “The Coromandel” marketing, with visitor products and events promoted through thecoromandel. com. The site promotes local information centres including Waihı¯, Paeroa, Tairua and Pauanui, which have all reopened, although Whangamata¯ Information Centre is holding off until May 25.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England- Hall said the organisation was working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Departments of Conservation and Primary Industries to reimagine a tourism sector that gives back more than it takes to New Zealand.
“How do we work together to manage visitor growth and flow so that all our communities and people benefit?” was part of the focus.
“We have an opportunity to listen to communities and design the future of tourism in New Zealand so that it benefits our people and our home.”
Christian Munz and Marvin Haeger enjoying some alone time freedom camping in Tairua.