Northland tourism operators say their businesses have taken a hit from the worst summer weather in a decade.
The downpour and possible thunderstorms are forecast for the start of a long weekend, with both Northland and Auckland marking their anniversaries on Monday.
Steve Mutton from Waka Kotahi is urging motorists to plan ahead if travelling in the wet weather, including using its journey planner to avoid peak travel times.
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But despite the bad forecast, Te Tai Tokerau business operators are trying to stay optimistic, saying there are plenty of things to do in the north, even if it is wet.
Julia Jones, who has run Bay of Islands Parasail with husband Rich De Rosa since 1998, believed it had been the worst summer for weather in 10 years.
“It’s been horrendous, we just can’t seem to win,” she said.
“Especially coming off Covid [restrictions] we really needed the weather.”
The parasail operation is unable to run in very wet and windy conditions, while the poor weather also prevents cruise ships from stopping in the Bay of Islands, Jones said.
Fortunately, many domestic tourists are re-booking the experience for another time if their parasail is cancelled, she said.
The operation is also able to dodge small showers, with Paihia often missing forecast rain thanks to the large hills nearby – meaning there was no reason for people to put off a trip north, Jones said.
“It’s beautiful up here. There’s so many activities to do up here, not just weather-dependent ones.”
But the severe weather forecast has already resulted in numerous cancellations at holiday parks, said NorthChamber acting chief executive Paulette Scrooby.
“It’s very disappointing,” she said. “And we’ve had such a long history of unsafe roads that even people who are not camping may think ‘let’s not travel’.”
Scrooby said Northland’s slip-prone roads do put off many visitors.
The weather has put a dampener on summer trade, agreed Nick Keene, owner of Tutukaka’s Schnappa Rock Restaurant and president of Hospitality New Zealand.
“The numbers of people coming north is still good but it does reduce the motivation [to go out].”
But Keene is thankful his restaurant can still open in the bad weather, unlike other operators who can be brought to a standstill, such as local dive operators.
He is trying to remain positive for the rest of the season and hoped an Indian summer would bring good weather later in the season.
Keene agreed there was plenty to do in Northland, even when the weather was rainy.
“I quite like it when the weather’s a bit inclement – the beaches and walks are great and it’s not cold … The fishing’s been excellent and the surf,” he said.
“When the weather’s dusty, I know a couple of really good bars to hang around in.”
Tania Burt, the general manager of destination at Northland Inc, said Northland tourism operators were looking forward to extending their manaaki or hospitality.
“As a region, we always look forward to welcoming visitors to the north and, as always, encourage those planning on travelling to do so safely and in accordance with conditions,” she said.
“Tai Tokerau Northland has plenty to offer in all weather, with fantastic depth of visitor experiences to be shared, from art, culture and heritage experiences, through to adventure and food and beverage.”
Burt encouraged those new to the region to check out Northland Inc’s trail routes in order to find something new.