February and March are traditionally when overseas visitors turbo-charge the New Zealand tourism industry.
With school back in and most Kiwis back at work, that's when overseas tourists traditionally more than fill the gap and it's when businesses start to make some real money.
Stats NZ and Tourism NZ figures show that in January through to the end of March in 2020, spending by international visitors was at its peak at $3.9 billion. During those slack months for domestic tourism, spending fell from a high of $2.8b from July to September in 2019 to $1.9b in the three months to March.
While the effects of the pandemic were just starting to be felt in February-March last year, this year will be the first year the near-total absence of international visitors threatens to turn bottom-lines ugly.
Some tourism operators have already folded and more tourism businesses which have clung on for the past year may join them.
A late summer domestic surge is required after what early feedback to Tourism Industry Aotearoa suggests has been a lumpy Christmas-New Year period for operators.
The traditional Kiwi summer holiday beach and lake hotspots have done well with visitor numbers equal or greater than usual.
The organisation says the new, alternative "island trips" have all been booming – Stewart Island, the Chatham Islands and Great Barrier Island all seeing record numbers of visitors.
But parts of the country where New Zealanders don't traditionally go over Christmas/New Year – such as Fiordland and Westland - have struggled. The main centres have been quiet with no international visitors, and residents escaping to their baches.
Auckland has attracted a few yachting enthusiasts for the America's Cup racing, but not significant numbers so far.
Despite the contribution of Kiwi holiday-makers, there is no making up for the loss of international visitors, who last summer spent more than $3b during December and January.
Tourism operators are looking anxiously ahead to what will happen when schools go back. The number of Kiwis on holiday is reducing and will drop off significantly after Waitangi weekend.
The onus is also on tourism operators to stimulate the market. They must come to the party with pricing and packages to suit older, and in some cases cautious and cannily parsimonious, Kiwi travellers. This age group is already being targeted by luxury cruise and overseas tour offers for future international travel, so the race is on for their wallets. There are some remarkable domestic tourism experiences out there - let's hear about them.
Older Kiwis have already done their bit. During last year's lockdowns they, with nearly all New Zealanders, followed the rules. We stayed at home and missed family and friends' birthdays, weddings and funerals. It was largely out of concern for more vulnerable, older people that the stringent, and so far highly successful, ''go early and go hard'' strategy was implemented.
But the younger population has borne the economic brunt of the pandemic - the young workers laid off and business owners in sectors exposed to closed borders have lost their livelihoods.
Not every baby boomer can afford to splurge on domestic travel. It may surprise their detractors, but the boomers come in all types, those younger ones still working and grinding out a mortgage and those who have little left over from NZ Super at the end of a week.
But among them is a large rump who are asset-rich and - if they've kept half an eye on their investments - cash-rich through the performance of managed funds and the like.
These are the people who need to go out and splurge during February and March and do their bit for New Zealand tourism whose economic value reaches deep into the regions.
By spending up large these older Kiwis could just help preserve the jobs and livelihoods of their grandkids.