Rugby, basketball and a whole lot of arts have helped contribute to a bumper Labour Weekend in Tauranga, with many people now eager for summer.

Retailers, in particular, were rapt with the number of people on the streets and eating out.

Mount Mainstreet chairwoman Jane Debenham said retailers were now on "home straight to summer".

Read more: Tauranga turns out to support ANZ Community Day


"It has been very positive ... I think people, now that the election is over, are enjoying the beginning of summer. It has probably turned a corner for a lot of retailers. It has been a very long, hard winter."

Tauranga Arts Festival, the Bay of Plenty Steamers match, Bay Salsa festival, Hoop Nation and Wheels on Mainstreet were among the events on during the long weekend.

Ms Debenham said there were a lot of people out and about, "just having a relaxing weekend after such a wet winter".

Tauranga Arts Festival director Jo Bond said shows had been well received so far and Saturday's Community Day on The Strand was a big hit. Having the 10-day festival fall on Labour Weekend was a bonus in many ways for the festival, she said.

"We think a lot of people don't go away and we kind of hope the festival is an added attraction for people coming here, an option for other things to do. So we are happy to be one of the Labour Weekend events. It works really well for us."

Kris Stamatakos from Tauranga's Colonial Court Motel said Saturday night was completely booked throughout the city and Friday and Sunday nights were also busy.

"We had the rugby on Saturday, so there were some people just staying the Saturday night. Then there's the Hoop Nation basketball event which is two-to-three days and you get the two-to-three days of booking from that."

Mr Stamatakos said long weekend events had significant pros and cons, and looking ahead to Auckland Anniversary Weekend in January there were already only three motels left with accommodation.

Mr Stamatakos said he would prefer if events were spread out rather than all held on the one weekend in summer.

Tony Bullot, chairman of Accommodation New Zealand, Bay of Plenty, said guests had been impressed with the restaurants and arts festival activity on The Strand.

On the roads, Western Bay of Plenty road policing acting Senior Sergeant Wayne Hunter said most drivers were mostly well behaved, despite some getting tickets for dangerous manoeuvres on the highways.

A rockfall involving a car in the Karangahake Gorge closed State Highway 2 for a few hours yesterday. The driver was not seriously hurt.