29 November 2016
Tourist centres in the North Island can expect to receive a boost this summer from travel south deferred due disruption caused by the Kaikoura earthquakes.
Major tourist towns, like Rotorua, are likely to see a boost not only in numbers but also spend as access to southern regions by land-based travellers is restricted.
Although efforts are being made to open the Christchurch-to-Kaikoura route, access from the north to Kaikoura and on to Christchurch is expected to be disrupted for much longer.
A tourism flow model shows how Kaikoura is a crucial link in the movement of visitors north-south, particularly to Christchurch. While alternative routes exist, none of them has the directness nor the attraction of the trip through Kaikoura.
“The Tourism Flows Model” was produced by the Ministry of Tourism is “a spatial
analysis tool that helps tourism stakeholders understand the impact of tourism growth
on publicly provided infrastructure”.
“The purpose of the TFM is to represent the dynamics of tourism spatially and to facilitate informed decision‐making on where to invest and where to adopt pro‐active policy, planning and resource allocation practices. This will ensure that future growth in tourism results in optimum outcomes for New Zealand.”
The model focuses on the behaviour of international visitors as well as domestic travellers who travel overnight or return return home on the same day.
The model was produced in 2007, so the numbers would have changed substantially since then but it could be expected the patterns would remain similar.
As could be expected, tourist road flows are heavily concentrated around the main trunk and the main metropolitan areas of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Looking at the maps of road flows, more than a million people travelled through the route through Kaikoura at the time of the study, both north and southwards.
“The main northbound and southbound roads into Christchurch are both heavily utilised by domestic overnight travellers with around 1.7 million road passengers entering and exiting the city using the northern route in 2005, and 1.8 million using the southern route. Around 61% of these southern flows are generated by residents of the Canterbury region.”
Australians were a major segment of international travellers using the northern highway into Kaikoura, while Japanese tourists mainly used the southern highway to access the now cut-off tourist town. Vistors from the United Kingdom/Nordic/Ireland region were major road users on the southern access route, as they tended to take an anti-clockwise approach to South Island travel by going down the West Coast first and then heading up north through Christchurch.
The model also produced that compared tourist traffic with non-tourist traffic directional flows. Eighteen per cent of total traffic flows in New Zealand resulted from tourist road traffic from Blenheim to Kaikoura, at that time.
Travel flows will have changed greatly during the period since this report was prepared. The numbers are from 2005, which makes them more than a decade out of date. As a result of changes in the Kaikoura infrastructure and its resulting attractiveness as a single destination, it could be expected the the proportion of travellers on the route from Blenheim would be higher.
Although just speculation, the conclusion can be drawn that many travellers will re-jig their plans for the coming summer season as the infrastructure in the northern South Island struggles to recover from the earthquakes’ impacts.