Bay of Plenty businesses are ready to welcome both domestic and international visitors with open arms this weekend with reports Australians are already holidaying in the region.
Australians were able to start visiting from yesterday , and some Bay of Plenty businesses say they are already booking Easter activities.
Tauranga's Hotel Armitage was fully booked out over Easter and Conference and Events manager Roxanne Vasquez said it would be a busy operation.
"The hotel is gearing up for the long weekend."
Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Oscar Nathan said it was exciting that Australian travellers were back.
"Australia has always been our largest international market, for our region and New Zealand as a whole, so this is a significant day."
Nathan said while it was a shame that the National Jazz Festival, usually held in Tauranga at Easter, had been postponed to Matariki, the Flavours of Plenty Festival that wrapped up this week would lead into Easter.
"Ideally, it will prompt visitors with some time up their sleeves to linger a while and explore our region for a bit longer.
"Many people love travelling in autumn and we are currently actively promoting the Coastal Bay of Plenty to motorhome and caravan holidaymakers."
Its iSite visitor information centres were also running a Facebook competition during Easter.
Skydive Tauranga co-owner Tristan Webb anticipated the border opening to Australians would provide a "slight boost" to their business.
"Hopefully we will see some Aussies visiting family here."
The international market made up about 20 per cent of its business, pre-pandemic, and cruise ships about 5 to 10 per cent.
Papa Mo's and Frosty & Fox co-owner Luke van Veen couldn't predict what the weekend would hold but he hoped the move to orange would have a positive impact and they would prepare for a busy weekend.
"There's too many unknowns, good and bad."
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Rebecca Ingram said New Zealand tourism operators were ready to welcome Australian visitors with open arms.
"This is an exciting day for tourism businesses around the motu as they step back on to the front foot, setting their sights on a successful ski season, then summer 2022-23.
"The industry is reporting forward bookings are gaining momentum, and there's definitely a more positive feeling about the future and the opportunities to rebuild businesses."
Tauranga Business Chamber spokeswoman Anne Pankhurst said the move to orange would give the local community a "sense of confidence" to venture out and enjoy the region's offerings.
"While we don't have the Jazz Festival, it will still be a great time to enjoy the fantastic hospitality that is on offer in the Bay and to think and love local.
"A good number of people may also use the very advantageous spacing of Easter and Anzac Day to take a mid-year break and come back to the rest of the year with a confident spring in their step."
Data from Booking.com showed Bay of Plenty destinations were at the top of the list at Easter, with Rotorua in the third spot and Tauranga 10th. Nearby Taupō was the second-most booked.
New Zealand Area Manager for Booking.com Todd Lacey said bach and holiday home options were popular with travellers to coastal destinations like Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.
"Travellers heading to these destinations over Easter are mainly couples looking for a short trip away, followed by families or small groups."
Taupō and Rotorua were popular as quick getaway drive destinations on Booking.com for those based in Auckland and Wellington and always featured high on the list for long weekends because of this, he said.
Rotorua's Hell's Gate was already seeing Australians book for the weekend, while Secret Spot Hot Tubs Rotorua co-owner Keith Kolver was "quietly optimistic" for a busy weekend.
Booking.com's Top 10 Easter Hotspots
- Hanmer Springs
Seven things to do this weekend in the Bay of Plenty
Head to the netball
The Splice Construction Magic take on theTe Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse live in Energy Events Centre as round six of the ANZ Premiership kicks off at the Energy Events Centre on Queens Drive in Rotorua on Monday at 7.15pm. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.
Both TWS Paradise Valley Speedway and Baypark Speedway are bringing all the action this weekend. Baypark has its final meeting on Saturday — The Oval at the Bay 20th Anniversary, which will close with a fireworks extravaganza. Gates open at 5pm, engines roar at 6.30pm. For tickets go to eventfinda.co.nz. In Rotorua, races run on both Saturday and Sunday, with the Hickey Contractors Easter Meeting and Advance Steel Engineering Demolition Derby. Gate sales only. For more info visit rotoruaspeedway.co.nz.
The Echo Walking Festival is on until April 24 in Katikati and Waihī Beach. Visit the website to see what is scheduled.
To celebrate the reopening, Nga Hoa Tautoko Friends of the Rotorua Library is opening the boxes and having a book giveaway from 9am to 1pm at Kuirau Park on Saturday.
Easter is the last break we have before winter sets in, so if you aren't going away it's a good time to fix things around the house that you've been putting off.
Start the long weekend tonight at the Rotorua Thursday Night Market. This weekend there is also the Katikati Artisan Craft Market at Chrome Cafe from 9am to 1pm on Saturday and more.
Katikati's NZ Mural Contest starts on Easter Monday and features nine artists painting in the theatre at the Arts Junction.