Kate Malcolm says tumbleweed once rolled through Tutukaka during winter.

Now restaurants have solid bookings, a local hotel has been operating at full occupancy, and businesses have been able to keep staff they may have had to let go otherwise.

Ms Malcolm is one of the organisers of the Tutukaka Coast Winter Festival, an event she credits with bringing people to the coast during winter.

"Six years ago tumbleweed would be rolling through Tutukaka in August," Ms Malcolm said.


"We had over 1000 people at the raft race, 250 people at the comedy night, at the dragonboat race we had people from Bay of Plenty and Auckland."

The festival, in its fifth year, is organised by Tutukaka Promotions and was born after a conversation between Ms Malcolm, who runs Dive! Tutukaka, Mel Miller of Scenario Events, and Schnappa Rock Bar & Restaurant owner Nick Keene who all agreed August was the quietest month.

"All of us have amazing crews in summer but they would disappear in winter because it's quiet," she said

There have been 13 events held in Tutukaka since this year's festival started on August 4 ranging from Filipino Pete's Flippin Ping Pong Tournament and the 36th Polar Bear Surf Classic to the Regent New World Comedy Night and Tutukaka Coast Boutique Beer Festival, which was on Saturday.

Ms Miller said the beer festival was fabulous, with about 700 people and 10 breweries, some with more than one label, attending.

She said an extra tent was put up this year and screened the All Blacks v Wallabies test match.

Ms Malcolm estimated previous festivals had brought about $300,000 to $500,000 to Tutukaka.

This year organisers introduced a survey to monitor visitor spending more closely with a "win back your spend" incentive to encourage festival attendees to participate.

Craig Walker, general manager of Tutukaka's Quality Hotel Oceans, said there was "absolutely no doubt in his mind" the festival had brought more people to Tutukaka.

"Without that we're just sitting mid-winter and nothing goes on. Midweek we're having only a couple of rooms in the property but when it comes to the winter festival events we're filling up. So the benefits are really big at the time of the year we really need them."

Mr Walker said before the festival was created the hotel would be a third full during winter, for some events like the Tutukaka Coast Boutique Beer Festival and the Regent New World Comedy Night there had been a 100 per cent occupancy - which brings about $3000 to $4000 a night.

Mr Walker said two dragonboat teams, about 20 people, from Auckland stayed at the hotel for the Tutukaka Dragonboat Regatta.

He said the increased occupancy meant casual staff, particularly housekeeping staff, who may have been on three to four hours during quiet periods now get seven or eight hours paid work on fully booked nights.

"I'm a big fan of [the festival] and what it brings. The whole marina was buzzing with 250 kids for the Take a Kid Fishing. People are looking for things to do in the weekends and Tutukaka's a short drive so people come out to see what's happening."