Events due to bring big bucks

By Mike Dinsdale

Northland is gearing up for a bumper week with thousands of visitors expected to pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into its economy.

While up to 30,000 people are expected to attend Waitangi Day commemorations in the Bay of Islands next week, several other events are also due to bring in the punters - and the dollars.

Tourism Development Group chairman and Whangarei District Council member Jeroen Jongejans said the extravaganza of events would expose Northland to the rest of the country and the world when the region was at its best.

The big week will start with the Air Vanuatu Nautigals fishing tournament run by the Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers' Club at Tutukaka on February 1 and 2.

It will finish with the Blues Versus Waratahs Super Rugby pre-season game at Okara Park on February 9.

In between will be the 137th North Kaipara (Paparoa) A&P; Show at Paparoa Showgrounds on February 2.

Then, both on February 3, will be the Classic Hits Winery Tour show at Tutukaka, starring Fat Freddy's Drop, Anika, Boh and Hollie and The Adults, at Tutukaka Marina; and English comedian Alan Davies at Forum North, in Whangarei.

The English cricket team will play two Twenty 20 games against a NZ XI at Cobham Oval on February 4 and 6 and the Waitangi Day commemorations take up February 5 and 6. As well, the Northern regional final of the ANZ Young Farmers Contest will take place at Barge Showgrounds Events Centre, Whangarei on February 9.

"We have the chance to show our region off to the rest of the country and the world with the T20 games," Mr Jongejans said. "We should have some great weather for the week and businesses are looking forward to having the extra influx of visitors - everybody will benefit. Events are a huge money spinner for Northland and it's not just the accommodation and tourism sectors that benefits, it's also the dairies, petrol stations, supermarkets, gift stores, etc."

Northland Cricket boss Gary Bell said the two T20 games were heading for sellouts. While the games would screen live on television, particular interest had arisen from English supporters, including the Barmy Army, and many were expected before the test matches being played in New Zealand and could head north. If that was the case there was a danger English fans would outnumber Kiwi fans.

Mr Bell said the Jovial House of Ale would be the official home bar for the English in Whangarei and he added the English team might be the strongest seen in Whangarei.

Meanwhile, the Winery Tour at Tutukaka is also looking like being a sellout with up to 3000 people due there.


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