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Aucklanders are set to stream across the Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island this month as the "no vacancy" sign goes up on the famed getaway for the first time in weeks.

More than 80 Waiheke rentals - from the $5700 architecturally designed Island Retreat to the $319 Tahamoana cottage - sold out within days of a new On The House promotion being launched.

The holiday rental 16 Waikare is among more than 80 on Waiheke Island that sold out within days of the On The House promotion being launched. Photo / Supplied
The holiday rental 16 Waikare is among more than 80 on Waiheke Island that sold out within days of the On The House promotion being launched. Photo / Supplied

It promised guests booking stays on the June 19-21 weekend they would get their money back in Waiheke dollars - credit that could be spent at local businesses.

This could be used to pay for wine tasting, shopping or ziplining adventures.

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Other possibilities included renting a car or e-bike, playing a round of golf, booking a scenic flight or dining at a host of Waiheke's award-winning restaurants.

Guests paying $5700 for two nights at the Island Retreat would get $5100 back in Waiheke dollars to spend elsewhere on the island after booking and cleaning fees were deducted.

The idea was to get tourists back after the Covid-19 lockdown and international border closures - and it worked.

"We have been overwhelmed with an amazing response to our initiative, receiving literally thousands of emails and phone inquiries," promotion organisers said.

"We want to thank all of you New Zealanders for your incredible support to the programme."

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Tahamoana cottage is among the Waiheke Island rentals that were part of the On The House promotion. Photo / Supplied
Tahamoana cottage is among the Waiheke Island rentals that were part of the On The House promotion. Photo / Supplied

It's initial success provided hope the promotion could be a beacon for other Kiwi tourist hotspots to follow.

Across the country, tourist operators have been hit hard by New Zealand's lockdown and the loss of international tourists.

Before the On The House Promotion, one Waiheke Island property management business reported June accommodation bookings were down 72 per cent compared to last year.

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Another wine tour operator watched bookings drop from 490 people last May to only four people this May.

The view from the kitchen of You've Got It Maid's 16 Waikare holiday rental on Waiheke Island. Photo / Supplied
The view from the kitchen of You've Got It Maid's 16 Waikare holiday rental on Waiheke Island. Photo / Supplied

Owner of ziplining company Ecozip, Gavin Oliver said his bookings for the rest of 2020 were "only sufficient to pay our team's wages for five days".

During the lockdown, only essential workers heading to jobs were allowed take ferries to and from Waiheke.

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However, since the move to alert level 2 last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been urging Kiwis to start getting back out and seeing their own country.

Tourism NZ also shifted its focus to domestic tourists as it launched a new video titled Do Something New Zealand.

A sleep over at 16 Waikare on the weekend of June 19-21 is essentially free - with the rental fee able to be spent at Waiheke Island businesses instead. Photo / Supplied
A sleep over at 16 Waikare on the weekend of June 19-21 is essentially free - with the rental fee able to be spent at Waiheke Island businesses instead. Photo / Supplied

Kim Rae, owner of Waiheke holiday rental business Stay Waiheke, and others behind the On the House promotion were now promising more big ideas.

"We are now working on planning future activations for Waiheke and are also in touch with other areas of New Zealand about our initiative," the team said.

Robbie Champtaloup, owner of holiday rental company You've Got It Maid, said her properties, including Tahamoana and the 16 Waikare apartment, were among those to sell out one day after the promotion launched.

"It's absolutely fantastic," she said of the idea.

The outdoor kitchen at Tahamoana. Photo / Supplied
The outdoor kitchen at Tahamoana. Photo / Supplied

A number of visitors who missed out on booking holiday rentals that were part of the On The House promotion booked other rentals anyway, she said.

Even though they missed out on getting Waiheke dollars, they still planned to visit because they had made their minds to get away after long weeks cooped up at home.

"We did lose our March and April so we are hoping it continues," Champtaloup said.

"I'm nervous the novelty will wear off around July and August and the reality will set in that money is short."

But after the Queen's Birthday long weekend was also fully booked, Champtaloup's hopes were rising after a bigger start to the winter than last year.

"Definitely this June has been a much better month this year than it was last year," she said.