The little village of Upokongaro north of Whanganui was booming last year after the opening of the new cycle bridge and locals say it is still busy despite the impacts of Covid-19.
Nicole Yarrall, of Behind the Door on 4 Cafe, said things had not been as busy as they were in early 2021 but a steady stream of bridge users, truck drivers, road workers and everyday commuters were stopping by.
"We're still seeing a lot of cyclists coming over the bridge as well as from the highway," Yarrall said.
"We welcome the business but it does put a strain on our toilet facilities and not everyone who uses them are our customers. We have two toilets and we're on tank water so we have to buy it in if there's a long dry spell."
Apart from the Riverboat Bar and Cafe which was currently open just three days a week from 3pm, the cafe provided the only toilet facilities in Upokongaro and Yarrall said it would be a relief when the Whanganui District Council completed the installation of a public facility.
"We can't really refuse to let people use ours when there's nowhere else but we get people queuing up when we're serving customers and we are supplying toilet paper and power so we're really looking forward to the opening of a public facility."
Whanganui District Council's general manager of property and open spaces Sarah O'Hagan said the council had committed to the installation of a public toilet at the Upokongaro War Memorial Hall to cater for the increased visitor numbers.
The $3.4 million cycle bridge opened in December 2020 and by June last year, more than 100,000 visitors had crossed it.
O'Hagan said the creation of the bridge, which was part of the Mountains to Sea cycle trail, had brought new opportunities to the Upokongaro community and to Whanganui.
"It will continue to encourage visitors to the area in the future so, to support the community, the council has committed to a number of projects," she said.
"The project to install the toilet and carry out restoration work on the hall itself is currently in its early stages. The council has been consulting with the Kaiwhāiki Pā Trust on the design and location of the toilet. Unfortunately, this has been delayed due to the Covid-19 Omicron outbreak. Once the consultation is complete, work will begin on-site."
O'Hagan said once all engagement and consultation were complete, a concept plan would be developed for the hall restoration.
"As the work progresses, the council's property team is working hard work to ensure that the local stories and history are reflected for the community and everyone who visits Upokongaro."
Wairua Riverboat skipper Sam Mordey makes regular trips to Upokongaro for passengers to enjoy visiting the historic St Mary's Anglican Church, walk the bridge, visit the cafe or have a picnic lunch on the riverbank.
"Things were quieter for us over summer in terms of regular tourism but we had a lot of charters," he said.
"We've taken a lot of cyclists up to the bridge and they are still coming through."
Mordey has now returned to regular weekday Wairua sailings every Tuesday and Thursday while big sister paddle steamer Waimarie is sailing to Upokongaro on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are special cruises on offer for Easter and Anzac Day as well as the popular children's Pirate and Princess Cruise on April 20.