Growing tourism lets businesses flourish

Good Mood Food manager Nat Molloy says the flow of customers is "amazing".
Kavinda Herath

Good Mood Food manager Nat Molloy says the flow of customers is "amazing".

Flourishing tourism has been helping create and grow businesses in Tuatapere.

Southland District councillor George Harpur said tourism numbers were on the increase in the area.

People throughout the world were drawn to New Zealand's scenery, nature and walking tracks, he said.

Southern Scenic Jet boat driver Kevin Molloy, Good Mood Food manager Nat Molloy and Wairaurahiri Jet, Southern Scenic ...
Kavinda Herath

Southern Scenic Jet boat driver Kevin Molloy, Good Mood Food manager Nat Molloy and Wairaurahiri Jet, Southern Scenic Jet and Good Mood Food owner and director Johan Groters outside one of the two new businesses opened up at the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Tuatapere was becoming a popular spot with several attractions bringing in numbers.

"More people are coming to the area in [groups of] threes and fours to look for a country experience."

Destinations including Hump Ridge Track, Monkey Island and Clifton Suspension Bridge would have about 30 cars parked there at once, he said.

A survey by Heritage New Zealand found about 71,000 visitors had walked across the Clifton Bridge from October 2015 to September 2016.

Venture Southland manager of business and strategic projects Steve Canny said in the busiest week, in January, 3281 people visited the bridge in one day.

"Clifton Bridge is one of Southland's heritage icons," he said.

There was also a 15 per cent swing towards independent travellers, many of which drive the Southern Scenic Route.

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People are visiting more of Southland by taking the route, so it was up to the towns to accommodate for campervan travellers in order to entice them to stay longer, Canny said.

"There's more opportunity for employment and businesses to expand and create employment ... it's a step in the right direction," Harpur said.

Tuatapere Community Board member and businessman Stephen Crack said tourism was "flourishing" in the area and several new businesses had opened, including a new tavern, jet boat tour and portable cafe.

Wairaurahiri Jet and Lake Hauroko Tours business owner Joyce Kolk said she and husband Johan Groters opened two new businesses in December that were going well.

The Southern Scenic Jet and Good Mood Food opened up at the Clifton Suspension Bridge and was attracting more tourists to the already popular spot.

"We want to give tourists something to do and expand our empire," Kolk said.

Living across the road from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Kolk said she noticed the attraction to the bridge and saw an opportunity to start up the two businesses there.

"We've always known that it was a busy area."

Some days 500 cars would be in and out looking at the bridge, she said.

Their biggest market was visitors from Europe.

Kolk said their businesses were focused on making the area attractive to visitors.

The western side of Southland was lacking in providing things for tourists, she said.

By providing things for visitors to do she hoped more tourists would stay longer.

"I think Tuatapere is going to be great."

Good Mood Food manager Nat Molloy said although they were "new in the game", they were pleased with the amount of traction the business had seen.

The flow of people to the bridge was "amazing" for business, she said.

People were not expecting a cafe to be at the location but it meant visitors got to enjoy a coffee and fresh baking while visiting.

"We're trying to create a hub," she said.

 - Stuff

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