What a difference a day and $2 an hour parking makes.
The carpark on the corner of Reyburn and Carruth Sts has been full on weekdays over summer while parking was free.
But a $2 an hour parking charge was introduced yesterday - and the carpark was virtually deserted.
Whangarei District Council leased the former Toyota yard for five years in September and turned it into a 74-space carpark, which opened in October.
Originally the parking was going to be free for about six weeks until the meters arrived, around late November.
The signs went up in mid-November but the public were given an early Christmas present when the council delayed installing the machines until this year, only charging from yesterday.
Parking at the site now costs $2 an hour, for an unlimited time between 8am to 6pm on weekdays.
Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai said a few factors were at play in the parkers' no show.
"It's the first time we've introduced paid parking in these areas of the Town Basin and it's human nature to avoid new charges.
"I've also noticed the roads are noticeably quieter this week in the lead-up to the long weekend, added to that it's rainy so people may be staying indoors."
She said when the council agreed to introduce parking charges, it required the carparks to be monitored and use reported back to councillors.
Charges also came into effect at the Town Basin carpark across the road, but it didn't appear to take such a drastic drop in use.
Parking at that popular site also now costs $2 an hour, for a maximum of three hours between 8am and 6pm, seven days a week.
The move was made to free up parking at the Town Basin site. Sixteen spaces near the playground on the northern side of the Reyburn House Lane will be free for an hour.