Domestic support for local tourism is booming and Skyline Rotorua has plans to keep drawing tourists back to town with the most significant track upgrade in 20 years.
Work started this week on an upgrade to one of the operator's luge tracks. It is expected to be finished by the start of next summer.
The intermediate and scenic tracks are still open for use while the development is under way.
General manager Andrew Jensen said he couldn't reveal the cost of the development yet.
He said this was the most significant upgrade to the tracks the business had done.
The luge was a world-first when it opened its first track in 1985, adding extra tracks in 1993 and 2001.
The upgrade has been several years in the planning and was initially meant to happen last year before being put on hold due to Covid-19.
The upgrade will see one of the tracks entirely replaced with one track with three options. It will see 600m of new track added to the total length of luge track at Skyline Rotorua.
It will incorporate innovations and advancements from some of Skyline's offshore Luge sites such as 360-degree corkscrews, longer tunnels and the introduction of multiple pathways to the bottom of the track.
A 360-degree corkscrew is currently only included within the Skyline Luge tracks in Tongyeong, South Korea.
During the upgrades, only one of the three luge tracks will be affected meaning there will be little disruption to normal operations.
Jensen said Skyline's goal was to support local contractors and suppliers where it could so the main contract had been given to local company CH Builders and Stratum Consultants had also been involved.
Local iwi had been involved in the planning process, from resource consents through to the site blessing before work started.
"Skyline is very grateful for the engagement and support of Ngāti Whakaue and other local iwi."
Jensen said the upgrade would offer domestic tourists something new, once finished.
"We've seen domestic support and we're very humbled by that. This is going to give another reason for customers to come back to Skyline.
"Kiwis who have already luged, it gives them a chance to try a new option."
Destination Rotorua interim chief executive Andrew Wilson said it was encouraging to see investment in the local visitor sector had continued.
"We've seen a lot of innovative product ideas come to life and it's great to see Skyline going ahead with their new development as they look ahead to improved market conditions next summer.
"Like any other group of businesses, those focused on the tourism industry in Rotorua have had very different experiences over the past 12 months and are facing the future with different levels of confidence.
"Businesses that have always been more focused on the needs of New Zealand visitors are probably more optimistic than those that have been more dependent on high visitor volume or higher value international visitors.
"We know some local businesses are having to face some difficult decisions as we head into winter with the date of the Australian border opening still uncertain."
Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said it was encouraging to see some tourism operations were investing and growing their offerings.
"We have the full spectrum at the moment, from investment and growth to closures. So it is still an emerging picture overall.
"Those with a large exposure to international tourism and air travel are taking the biggest hits but the more domestically focused businesses are weathering it better than many expected. With Covid seemingly here to stay and the borders remaining closed, there is no early relief in sight for the international tourism sector."