Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Bay's Easter weekend guide

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Tauranga Jazz Festival director Becks Chambers is excited about the event's opening day. Photo/George Novak
Tauranga Jazz Festival director Becks Chambers is excited about the event's opening day. Photo/George Novak

Today is the first day of the National Jazz Festival - kicking off a busy weekend for Tauranga businesses.

Festival director Becks Chambers said the festival usually attracted 50,000 to 60,000 people throughout the long weekend and, if the weather played ball, she would expect something similar this year.

Some shows had already sold out, some were close to it and others still had tickets available.

"We've got a good feeling that it's going to be awesome. We've got a good line-up and lots of positive feedback and inquiries. Tickets are going out the door. They were going slow at first but now they're going really quickly."

Ms Chambers said the biggest thing to look forward to at this year's event was the Hurricane Party, held on both Saturday and Sunday nights at the Tauranga Waterfront stage.

Sal Valentine and The Babyshakes, a 10-piece ensemble, and New Orleans second-line brass band Richter City Rebels are the acts for Saturday night, followed by funk and soul band Hipstamatics and Melbourne's Sex on Toast on Sunday night.

Ms Chambers expected the Historic Village would be full of people on Monday to watch local and national acts including Miho Wada and Wellington City Shake-Em-On-Downers.

There will also be street performers, children's rides and food stalls.

The Dinner in the Domain, originally planned to open the festival tonight, was postponed until tomorrow because of the bad weather forecast.

Businesses
Alan Sciascia, regional manager of Hospitality New Zealand, said the city was expected to be busy with the festival and the long weekend. "We're expecting people to come to Tauranga to participate as jazz artists but also people coming through to enjoy the music and enjoy the weekend."

Mr Sciascia said it was a big weekend, particularly for businesses on The Strand.

Bruce Rutherford, Kaimai View Motel owner and Tauranga Motel Association president, said moteliers were almost fully booked, although there were a few rooms here and there.

Downtown Tauranga manager Sally Cooke said members of the organisation were encouraged to get into the spirit of the jazz festival by dressing up their shop windows.

Traffic
The New Zealand Transport Agency was expecting thousands of people to hit the region's roads this weekend.

Regional performance manager Karen Boyt said last Easter traffic on State Highway 25A in the Coromandel increased by 77 per cent and State Highway 2 increased by more than 40 per cent. State Highway 29 over the Kaimai Range went up by almost a third compared with a regular summer day.

Traffic would start to build on state highways around the Bay of Plenty and Waikato in both directions from about 3pm today.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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