Kaikoura earthquake: Good and bad of the South Island changes circle out to the West Coast

By Teresa Smith

Prue Grant, the supervisor of the DOC Paparoa Visitor Centre at Punakaiki said it was very busy in Punakaiki currently but hard to gauge how much was the result of the quake. Photo / File
Prue Grant, the supervisor of the DOC Paparoa Visitor Centre at Punakaiki said it was very busy in Punakaiki currently but hard to gauge how much was the result of the quake. Photo / File

The good and bad effects of last week's huge quake are continuing to be felt by local transport companies, grocery stores and accommodation providers.

Tony Thomas of Reefton's Thomas Freight, which runs an overnight service to Christchurch, said it was taking his drivers a "lot longer to get there and a lot longer to get back".

He said the biggest difference for them was the number of trucks on the route at night.

He estimated there were about 100 compared with four a night before the 7.8 Kaikoura quake on November 14.

Mr Thomas thought local roads were unlikely to stand up well to the increased load as they had not been in good shape beforehand.

Westport transport company Johnson Brothers also reported slower travelling times.

Its drivers are using Arthur's Pass rather than the Lewis to reduce pressure on that route. Buller Mayor Garry Howard said he had been told the number of trucks passing through Springs Junction had skyrocketed from 60 to 800 a day.

Advance Northern West Coast (ANWC) chairman Geoff Schurr said that anecdotally there seemed to be an increase in tourist numbers in the region but it was too early to know for sure.

"We won't really know till people crunch their figures at the end of the month." He suspected there would be a short-term increase but this could fall off.

"Ultimately it's probably going to be a similar scenario to the Christchurch earthquake where we got a dip in international tourists coming to the South Island."

Mr Schurr said that while people already committed to travelling to New Zealand over the summer were likely to rearrange routes and still come, those considering a trip in the future could be put off.

It was great timing that the ANWC's new Westport website, activity map and brochure were all in place but disappointing that the long-planned new signage at points such as Inangahua was not yet there, he said.

Mr Schurr, a co-founder of caving company Underworld Adventures, said there was definitely more traffic on the road through Charleston.

"It was a record November last year for Underworld and we're going to break that again this year."

Karen Forsman from Settlers Lodge Motel at Omau said that while there had probably been some increase in guest bookings it had not been dramatic.

She said the business had been contacted by a Wellington-based newspaper trying to sell advertising for an article about the South Island still being open for business.

Prue Grant, the supervisor of the Department of Conservation (DOC) Paparoa Visitor Centre at Punakaiki said it was very busy in Punakaiki currently but hard to gauge how much was the result of the quake.

However, a lot of people were requesting road maps and information about routes down the coast.

A Reefton visitor centre staff member said they were very busy but were also unsure how much of the increase was due to the quake and how much to November being a busy time for tourists.

Westport New World owner Salu Acklin said while there had been a definite increase in tourist traffic it was back to normal in terms of local shoppers as people had restocked their earthquake supplies last week.

Buller District Council compliance and emergency team leader, Atila de Oliveira said there had been an upsurge in the number of freedom campers with 20 campervans around North Beach this morning.

He said he was in the Punakaiki area on Tuesday and there were around 60 campervans parked in the DOC car park, Truman track and Fox River areas.

- Westport News

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 22 Jan 2017 19:16:30 Processing Time: 470ms