To Bay Explorer owner Brandon Stone's surprise, he's having a bumper summer - even without international tourists.
"We've been out every day, weather permitting. Sea conditions have been really good. Animal life has been really good too," he said.
"I didn't know how it was going to go [after the borders closed due to Covid-19] but we've found that people are active and I guess we are surprised we are filling the boat every day, or close to it."
New Zealand went into alert level 4 lockdown on March 25, and the country's borders have remained closed to tourism since, forcing the tourism sector to survive on the domestic market.
For tourism providers like Bay Explorer that survived largely on international spend, it has meant switching to a "new normal" catering just for Kiwis - with no idea of how that would go.
"We are finding really good support from all over New Zealand, a lot of visitors and a lot of locals as well," Stone said.
Some customers had come back for their second or third trips and many were new Kiwis keen to explore the "big, blue backyard", he said.
"They come back buzzing, saying they want to do it again with their family or friends, and they are.
"It has been very humbling really. We point that out on board, and say 'thank you so much for support'."
Stone said that while they changed their marketing to focus on a more domestic market, it had helped that they had never put "all the eggs in the international market".
In spite of the busy summer so far, it had been a slow start and Stone anticipated a shorter season. It was likely the business would go into "hibernation" earlier this year than usual, he said.
Waimarino Adventure Park's Blair Anderson said, overall, the business had managed to operate this summer at about the same level as last season but not every branch of the adventure park had escaped a downturn.
Anderson said Waimarino Kayak Tours, which predominantly attracted international visitors, was now operating at 20 per cent capacity "which is a major decrease".
"That affects employment. We're probably 10 to 15 staff down this season."
The park's Waverly on Wairoa conference and wedding branch was 5 to 10 per cent down on last year.
The Waimarino Education Trust, however, had been fully booked up children on with holiday programmes throughout summer and looking ahead, "which is pretty normal".
"Waimarino has always looked after the domestic and local market. International [market] is something we were looking to add value and to grow but we just can't do it anymore."
Anderson said the business had probably suffered a 10-year setback but their story was more good news than bad news.
"When the borders open it will be better but at least we've continued to be sustainable as best we can at Waimarino."
In October, Kiwiana Gifts and Souvenirs owner Ian New said admitted he was worried about the future of his business ahead of summer without international tourists, including cruise ship visitors.
New, who previously closed his second store Paradise at the Mount due to Covid-19, said the summer since had "been good".
"It has been what we expected for a domestic market. There are a lot of New Zealanders that can't go out of the country so they are travelling around."
New said the business had to adapt swiftly to make the most of change of market. It was offering more giftware than before, which had helped.
Despite the steady season, however, "we are still a long way down, a lot".
"That's just part of it [lockdown]. It's pretty much how it used to be before cruise ships."
New was expecting a downturn in February when many Kiwis went back to work.
Domestic visitors were generally the Western Bay's most significant tourism market.
Tourism Bay of Plenty figures showed that before Covid-19 restrictions, Kiwis accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the area's total visitor spend of $981 million.
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said it had been a "game of two halves".
"Between July and October 2020, manuhiri spent more compared to the same months in 2019, and enough to offset the loss of international visitor spend during this period".
Spend and visitor data from after December 31, 2020, was not yet available.
However, the figures show from December 19 to 31 the Western Bay had an average of about 24,000 domestic visitors a day. This was down about 6000 per day, a reduction of 18 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
Dunne said there were also about 7000 international visitors in the area per day, which was about "half the number we would normally welcome to the area over this period".
"With New Zealand's borders closed to manuhiri ki tāwāhi [international visitors] and no cruise industry this season, there is a significant gap that tourism businesses are struggling to fill."
The level of decline in domestic visitors appeared to be consistent with other central North Island regions such as Rotorua, Whakatāne, Coromandel and Gisborne, she said.
"We know that many tourism operators are facing significant challenges, but we have also seen incredible innovation. The tourism businesses focussed on the domestic market, and hospitality and retail have already felt the impact of so many Kiwis getting out and exploring their backyard and remain optimistic about the future."
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall said tourism was a major employer of women and youth and on average every $178,000 of visitor spend created one new job.
"These jobs are important for our regions, especially where there may be few other employment options."
International visitors traditionally spend three times more per day than residents and domestic visitors spend two times more per day.