SHARE

At anchor . . . The Seabourn Encore in South Bay, Kaikoura, on New Year’s Day. Photo: Robyn Bristow

By DAVID HILL

Kaikoura’s tourist operators are hailing what could be the busiest summer yet.

Destination Kaikoura general manager Glenn Ormsby says the town is “humming” as visitors flock to the town now that there is more certainly with road access after the earthquake.

The one drawback has been the cancellation of two cruise-ship visits, including the 1200-passenger cruise liner Maasdam, due to visit last month.

But the Seabourn Encore arrived on New Year’s Day as planned with 600 passengers and was expected to return today. Three more ship visits are scheduled for next month.

“Most operators are very happy and they’re very busy; the forward bookings are looking very strong.

“Most of the businesses are up and running and we certainly feel for those who aren’t.”

The Kaikoura A&P Show is expected to draw visitors next month, but Mr Ormsby says the town is lacking a major event between the show and the Whale Run and Kaikoura Hop in September.

“We are working on what else we can do during the year. We’ve got a winter gap and we’ve lost Seafest in October.”

The proposed 120-bed Sudima Hotel, expected to be operating next summer, will cater to “a different market” and will potentially offer some options in winter, including as a conference venue for up to 200 participants, he says.

Whale Watch Kaikoura marketing manager Lisa Bond says the boats have been operating between 14 and 16 tours a day over the last few weeks with strong forward bookings for summer.

“Seeing so many people from so many places around the world take part in what we have to offer is fantastic.”

Tourists have seen not only the resident sperm whales, but humpback whales, pilot whales, orca, shepherd’s beaked whales, fin whales and sei whales.