Hotels were full, restaurants were busy and shoppers filled the streets – it was a busy Queen’s Birthday Weekend for Taranaki.
Hotels were booked up and restaurants were buzzing as Kiwis got into the idea of domestic tourism over the weekend.
But the drive home might have taken the gloss off the weekend, as impatient drivers at the Awakino Gorge construction sites caused gridlock on State Highway 3. Hundreds of vehicles in both lanes were reduced to a near crawl or total stop for more than an hour.
And the weather had packed up by then too, after being fine for Saturday and Sunday.
Traffic woes aside, the region saw people out and about shopping, walking on Mt Taranaki and seeing what the area has to offer.
Both Puke Ariki and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery were busy.
More than 1,000 people visited the museum while about 450 visited the gallery, which are both back open with the appropriate Level 2 safety measures.
Many of the people staying at the King and Queen Hotel in New Plymouth were from Auckland or Wellington, duty manager Anau Ngametua said. The hotel was fully booked, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday they had a lot of people ringing up, or just walking in off the street, hoping to get a room, he said.
Most people stayed for two nights, and while some were local, the majority were out of the region, he said.
The Devon Hotel also hosted many guests from outside Taranaki, owner Peter Tennent said.
”There was an awful lot of folk here for the first time, which is fabulous. They’ve been listening to the Prime Minister’s message and are willing to explore local.”
A lot of people left his hotel, which was booked out, ambassadors for the region, he said.
Nice Hotel was fully booked and had a waiting list, as people had been attracted by his decision to reduce the rate for rooms and provide a cheaper dining menu, both measures which had been designed to get punters through the doors of the Brougham St establishment, owner Terry Parkes said.
But as overheads remained the same, this tempered any boost in revenue from the bustle over the Queen’s Birthday period.
“You’re just as busy but the turnaround is not the same.”
While it was great New Zealanders were travelling domestically again, he was concerned about the future in terms of ongoing demand and what that will mean for small businesses like his, he said.
“I don’t really see this bubble is going to stay like this.”
Cost-cutting was something he would have to consider in the future.
Restaurants Polpetta and Hour Glass were both busy over the weekend, owner Mark Louis said.
”Which was awesome. A real relief.”
Louis was out and about in New Plymouth on Saturday and said there were a lot of people in town and quite a lot were visiting from out of the region.