Trip­ping the Coro

Re­gion voted best spot in NZ for hav­ing a tiki tour

Waihi Leader - - Front Page - Alison Smith

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.”

Photo / Alison Smith

Chris­tian Munz and Marvin Haeger en­joy­ing some alone time free­dom camp­ing in Tairua.

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