Town gears up for cruise-ship season

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A new day, a new dawn . . . A cruise ship lies at anchor off Kaikoura early on Sunday morning. It will be a busy cruise-ship season for the tourist town this summer. File photo

By DAVID HILL

Kaikoura is looking ahead to a busy summer season.

With this summer’s first cruise ship scheduled to visit this week, Destination Kaikoura general manager Glenn Ormsby says planning is in place to meet the needs of a large influx of visitors over the coming months.

“We’ve got nine (cruise ship visits) altogether, but that may go up or go down depending on the weather.

“But it’s pretty exciting because we’ve got one of the largest cruise ships ever coming, with the Maasdam, which carries something like 1200 passengers, which is really good for us.

“Everything is open and it’s certainly not like last year when we were waiting for the road to open, so it’s only going to get better and better.”

The Maasdam is scheduled to arrive at Kaikoura on December 15. It weighs 55,575 tonnes, is 220 metres long and carries up to 1258 passengers and 580 crew.

The new cruise ship season begins with today’s arrival of Caledonian Sky, a regular visitor to Kaikoura. It weighs in at 4280 tonnes and carries 114 passengers and 74 crew. It is expected to return in February.

Mr Ormsby says Kaikoura iSite staff have been busy preparing for the arrival of the Caledonian Sky, putting up “welcome to Kaikoura” signs and producing new brochures for the new season.

“The key thing is what they can do while they’re here, so it’s about making sure there’s plenty of interesting things to do in the town and on the water.”

While on-the-water operators such as WhaleWatch and Encounter Kaikoura are gearing up for a busy summer, Mr Ormsby says there is plenty to do on land, including the Kaikoura Peninsula Walk, visiting the seal colonies, climbing Mt Fyffe, and a visit to the Kaikoura Museum.

“And for those who can get a vehicle, it’s fantastic driving up the north road to see how the road works are progressing and see the Ohau Point seal colony. It looks amazing.”

But the popular Ohau Waterfall, where seal pups frolic in the water, is still off limits to the public.

Mr Ormsby says the renewed South Bay Marina, officially re-opened in November last year, is proving to be a success.

“It’s working out really well and it’s a lot safer than it was before, with a lot of the rocks removed. The new navigation buoys are really fantastic.

“It’s certainly a lot easier to manoeuvre the (cruise ship) tenders.”

Other ships scheduled to visit include the Seaborne Encore, which carries more than 600 passengers and is due to make several visits in January, February and March, while the Azamara Quest carries nearly 700 and is due to stop off in February.