No vacancy signs, increased foot traffic and retailers grinning from ''ear to ear'' signalled a successful Queen's Birthday weekend for Tauranga businesses despite the wild weather yesterday.
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Out of town visitors flocked to Tauranga, providing a much needed economic and morale boost for businesses.
The Phoenix Bar owner Ralph Ward said he had not stopped moving but had also not stopped smiling all weekend as his restaurant was easily the busiest it had been since lockdown lifted.
"I've got a grin from ear to ear and I can't stop. It's been very good. For Saturday, Sunday and so far Monday it has almost been pre-Covid-19 levels. The last two days, we literally haven't stopped from the time we opened until the time we closed."
He said the long weekend had been a welcome respite for businesses after a tough lockdown period and he noticed a lot of the customers had come from out of town.
"We've a lot of out of towners, particularly for brunch and lunch where they've come in and had something to eat before driving home.
"It's a lot better than it was a week ago. When you look at the fact that we lost both Jazz Fest and Mothers' Day to the lockdown - that normally puts us in a position with a bit of a war chest to get through winter. We lost all that because we went to zero revenue.
"I will say, in my opinion, the Government has done a superb job with the wage subsidy to keep people employed and the interest-free loans for businesses to keep us with cash flow," Ward said.
Hospitality New Zealand accommodation sector Bay of Plenty chairman and 850 Cameron Motel owner Tony Bullot said it was a busy weekend with many "no vacancy" signs.
He said it was not as busy as previous holiday weekends but both Friday and Saturday nights were booked out around town, with a drop on Sunday.
"It certainly hopeful and relieving for all owners. We have to prepare for the worst but it certainly was a pleasant surprise.
"It is the first long weekend, with one active case in New Zealand - I think people are adjusting to the new normal and being cautious but they aren't running away scared. They are happy to go away for the long weekend and its great."
With no events or corporate bookings, Bullot said it was the domestic market that had come in full force.
Pāpāmoa Plaza centre manager David Hill said the shopping centre had an increase in foot traffic of 10 to 15 per cent during the holiday period.
"It's crazy nuts, we've had to put on extra staff and I know the retailers are run off their feet too.
"And people are happy to be there, its great to see people re-engaging and smiling everywhere."
Hill said it was nerve-wracking opening after lockdown, with the uncertainty that many would be more inclined to shop online, but it didn't appear to be the case.
He believed domestic tourism had taken off with many new faces walking into the Plaza at the weekend.
"Pāpāmoa is one of the largest destinations for domestic tourism in the country and it's great to see that hasn't changed, in fact, it has got busier I would say."
Escape Rooms Tauranga director John Haffenden said a busy long weekend, with visitors from all over the North Island, was welcome after being forced to close during lockdown.
"It's been extremely busy all weekend. It could be people wanting to get out more after the lockdown but we're also very weather-related, we get more people in when it's wet, so the combination of both has been good.
"We've come out the other end of the lockdown and are still trading which is a good thing. People seem really excited to get out and do things, especially in Tauranga.
"We've had visitors from all over, Gisborne, Napier, Auckland, Coromandel - we've had people from all over this weekend," Haffenden said.
Rye Bar & Grill and Barrio Brothers owner Josh Fitzgerald said it had been "a noticeably busier weekend".
"It was no record breaker but it was good. It's absolutely good to have a long weekend like this, it's fortunate timing if you could call it that. We're obviously limited to how many people we can have in the venues but it was a pretty buoyant sort of a feeling out on the streets.
"People are out and about, that's the main thing. I was in the Mount on Sunday morning, at the farmers' market, and there seemed to be a lot of people around which is positive."
Wild weather hits Bay of Plenty
Fire crews across the Bay of Plenty were kept busy overnight as wild weather battered the region.
As trees came down and debris was flung across roads, crews were called to about five separate weather-related incidents within 12 hours on Sunday night.
The Coromandel Peninsula was hit the hardest, with roads closed and flooding.
State Highway 25 between Tairua and Hikuaui was closed as a result of flooding, with people describing the area as being "under water".
The Kopu area had the heaviest rainfall in the whole country, with a whopping 204mm within 24 hours.
Thames-Coromandel District Council put out a morning update saying people should expect delays on the roads due to slips and flooding.
"As expected, we've been hit with some heavy wind and rain resulting in surface flooding and slips making driving conditions hazardous."
More than 1000 Tauranga properties have been left without power as a result of the wild weather.
PowerCo reported that 819 properties in Bellevue and 649 properties in Oropi lost power around 12.30pm.
However, most of those had their power restored within an hour.
As at 3pm, Tauranga had 14mm of rain the previous 12 hours. The weather was looking to improve throughout the region this morning.According to the MetService, Rotorua and Tauranga were expecting showers in the morning, turning to fine in the afternoon.