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Signs point to a record summer on the Coromandel


Signs point to a record summer on the Coromandel



Ice, bottled water, sun umbrellas and bananas have been some of the items in hottest demand across the Coromandel in what is shaping up to be a record summer season for the district.

Consistantly warm, sunny weather and great marine conditions helped attract a bumper turnout of people to our coastal towns over the Christmas and New Year week.

Destination Coromandel general manager Hadley Dryden says local businesses have been flat out welcoming holiday makers to enjoy what the Coromandel has to offer.

While January is traditionally our busiest month for visitors, it's fine weather that can make all the difference when it comes to visitor spend.

“Signs are this summer will set a record,” Hadley says.

That’s good news for business owners who, this time last year, were reeling from the effect of the January storm that battered the Thames Coast and ripped up the road, which took months to repair.

While it’s too early for any official visitor count for this summer, previous surveys indicate the extent our population swells at this time. Our Council’s last official peak population survey, for the summer of 2016/2017, estimated 498,000 individual visitors in the district from 22 December 2016 to 9 January 2017. That compares to what the report identified as a usual resident population of 27,600.

Queues and crowds - businesses rise to the challenge

Local supermarkets are among those who feel the pressure most keenly when the visitor population surges to these extremes.

Customers at New World Whangamata queued down the aisles on a daily basis over the Christmas-New Year week.

The store’s manager Neville Singh says he thinks this summer season has been busier than last year, and he is expecting it to stay that way for the rest of January.

Pauanui SuperValue reported a record week over New Year in terms of foot traffic through its doors.

Owner Alex Mason said the store was like a nightclub on New Years’ Eve when it had to close the doors and let customers in only as others exited. At times, the volume of people in the store made it difficult for staff to restock the shelves.

Over the New Year weekend alone the store sold more than a tonne of bananas and almost ran dry on bottled water and ice creams.

“We are certainly through the busiest patch, but long may the sun continue to shine and people stay on enjoying the Coromandel,” Alex says.

The Hahei General Store said having plenty of extra staff, a new store layout and an extra cash register has helped it cope with its busiest period of the year.

Thames Business Association manager Rachael Cheeseman says hospitality businesses in Thames were all reporting an increase in sales this season.

Accommodation providers were taking bookings with less than 48 hours notice, which they put down to the lure of the fine weather.

“Café owners and staff are looking tired and have been very busy,” Rachel says. ”Many are talking about the need for more qualified baristas.”

Thames businesses also had a very positive response to the Fat Freddy’s Drop concert at the Thames Racecourse on January 7.

“The general consensus is that more of these types of events would be beneficial,” she says.

In the Kaueranga Valley, the Pinnacles Hut has no beds available on a Saturday night until early April. For booking information check www.doc.govt.nz

In Mercury Bay, Go Kiwi Shuttles had an extremely busy New Year, with owner-operator Sandra Fitzsimmons reporting record numbers at its Cathedral Cove Park N Ride service from the Hahei Village carpark.

"The carpark has been bursting to overflowing on more than one occasion; the numbers have blown all other records out of the window," Sandra says. "The weather has been a big part of it."

Pamela Grealey of the Coromandel Town Business Association says local businesses are reporting at least 30-35% more people in town this summer compared to last year, with several saying it has been the best summer for trading they have experienced in three years.

Finding a carpark has been a problem in the town since December 27 and it took motorists 20 minutes to drive through Coromandel Town on the day of the Keltic Fair on January 2, when queues for the ATM at the BNZ Bank stretched back many yards down Tiki Rd to the Coromandel Smoking Co.

Whangamata Business Association member and owner of the Breakers Motel Ross Levy says most hospitality and accommodation providers are at their maximum capacity over New Year.

"There's not really a heck of a lot any of us can do to improve business at that time," he says.

"But if the weather's not so good you can get people trying to head home early - clearly that hasn't happened this season," Ross says.

"The town's buzzing and everyone's flat out. All you have to do is drive down the street and see if you can find a carpark."

Busy fortnight for water safety crews


Wth the great weather we've been experiencing, more people are taking to the water for fun.

Coastguard NZ has reported one of its busiest seasons yet on the Coromandel, and across the country generally, with record numbers of maritime search and rescues.

Meanwhile, Surf Lifesaving New Zealand (SLNZ) has had record numbers of visitors to beaches across the Coromandel. At Whangamata, volunteer surf lifeguards saw more than 25,000 people visit the beach between 24 December and 6 January, with 4000 people on New Year’s Day alone.

Over that period, local Whangamata lifeguards rescued 10 people from life-threatening situations and also assisted nearly 1,500 people back to safety before they got themselves into major trouble.

Whangamata is not unique across the region with Hot Water Beach and many other Coromandel beaches seeing the same trend.

SLNZ eastern region manager Chase Cahalane says surf lifeguards want to thank the locals for their support during this busy time, and the many visitors for following their advice, which makes a big difference in keeping everyone safe.

SLNZ has released a safety campaign to ensure people know what to do if they find themselves caught in a rip while swimming. The message is simple: Remember the three R's - Relax and float, Raise your hand, Ride the rip. You can read more about this here.

Maritime New Zealand offers important safety information for recreational boaties on its website here.


Coping with extra visitors


Our Council’s infrastructure manager Mohamed Imtiaz says the peak season has been smooth for our water and wastewater networks.

“Effective water network management and preparation has meant we were able to save between five and 10 per cent of water across many of our townships,” Mohamed says.

“The effect of this, combined with unusually wet weather before Christmas, has meant that we had much fewer areas with water restrictions. The infrastructure team would like to thank those that took steps to reduce water consumption in those areas that did have restrictions.”

As many holiday makers headed back to work this week, our water restrictions were eased in some areas, however residents and visitors are asked to please continue to conserve water.

We'll continue monitoring water use in our nine urban and two rural water supply schemes regularly and reviewing our water restrictions daily. Any changes are posted on our website and our Facebook page.

Please report water wastage and water leaks to our customer service team on 07 868 0200.

Kerbside collections and compactors
A rubbish pile-up next to a compactor north of Colville over the weekend saw our Council collect approximately four tonnes of rubbish from the site.

Our portable rubbish compactors are placed at key locations that see high visitor numbers, to make it more convenient for people to dispose of rubbish. It's important that people follow the clear instructions on the compactor and only dispose of normal household rubbish at a cost of $2 per bag. Anything else should be taken to one of our seven refuse transfer stations. People can check their hours and locations on our website at www.tcdc.govt.nz/rts.

We have extra Kerbside rubbish and recycling collections over the summer period. Check the schedule for your area at www.tcdc.govt.nz/kerbside or pop into one of our council offices for a copy of the Kerbside schedule for your area. We are also posting regular updates and reminders on our Facebook page

Dogs
Feedback from our bylaws officers is that compliance with our dog control rules has been very good, with the majority of people walking their dogs on-lead in public areas, off the back of last year’s Lead the Way campaign to help people enjoy summer on the Coromandel with their dogs.

We remind dog owners that from 20 December to 31 January and on all holiday weekends between 9am-6pm, dogs are prohibited on some of our district’s beaches. Dogs must be on-lead when walking in public. Check the rules for your area at www.tcdc.govt.nz/dogs

Roads
NZTA reports a pretty quiet season on the roads across our district, despite traffic volumes being up.

Traffic volumes on SH2 approaching the Coromandel Peninsula from the directions of both Auckland and Tauranga increased by around 2-4% compared to the previous Christmas holidays.

Average daily traffic volumes over the Kopu-Hikuai Road (SH25A) were around 1.5% higher compared to the previous Christmas. In addition, on the busiest day of the holiday the road carried 11,996 vehicles, which was 1,200 vehicles more than the busiest day last Christmas.

There was only one major incident on local roads over the Christmas holiday. There was a crash located just north of the Thames Coast Road on the morning of January 4. The road was closed for just over four hours and put extra pressure on SH25 on the eastern side, with long queues of traffic backed up at Tairua.

Williamson Park
While there were no commercial ticketed evening events at Williamson Park in Wangamata this year, other events were held and families have been enjoying the new sheltered BBQ areas and fun family events such as night and day markets, yoga, Miss Whangamata, Whanga Week and the family fun water slide.

Freedom camping
Freedom camping is permitted on the Coromandel, however we have freedom camping rules for all areas our Council owns or manages and campers need to comply or risk a $200 fine. Our rules and information on our restricted freedom camping areas are outlined here.

We encourage holiday makers in motorhomes to join the New Zealand Motorhome Association (NZMCA) which has great resources to help people enjoy visiting the Coromandel in certified self-contained motorhomes. You can view the NZMCA website here.

More information on the Thames-Coromandel District Council Freedom Camping Bylaw 2014 can be found here.Our Council will review this bylaw this year.

Alcohol bans still in effect
The Christmas/New Year alcohol ban period is over, but most of our town centres have year-round, 24/7 bans on alcohol in public places that are in force. Many of our beaches and seaside reserves have alcohol bans over holiday long weekends – including Auckland Anniversary from 4pm on Friday 25 January to 4pm on Monday 28 January. www.tcdc.govt.nz/alcoholcontrol

Total fire ban
We are currently in a prohibited fire season, which means there is a total ban on lighting any open fires in our district. Our Council no longer issues fire permits, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) does. Check the FENZ website www.checkitsalright.nz for more information.

For everything else you need to know including fire bans, water restrictions, boat ramps, freedom camping and more see www.tcdc.govt.nz/summerinfo


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