The Silverlight Studios proposal could lift Wanaka out of the Covid-19 economic doldrums, National Transport and Toy Museum curator Jason Rhodes says.

Mr Rhodes began dreaming about bringing the film industry to town about 15 years ago.

He looks forward to a change in fortunes for the visitor industry and diversifying Wanaka’s economy.

Silverlight Studios Ltd has proposed a $280million film studio on nearby Corbridge Estates and is going through a fast-track resource consent process under Covid-19 economic recovery legislation.

A decision is not out yet but Mr Rhodes is a supporter.

The museum he and his sister Debbie administrate is on film-makers’ radars as a one-stop prop shop. Museum pieces have been used in movies, including Pete’s Dragon, Bride Flight, and A Wrinkle in Time

“It’s a great thing. It opens everything up on the local front. There will be more catering, there will be literally more of everything, tradies, everyone will feed off this industry, even people at the bookstore.

“It works for us because we are close. It will be more feasible for them and it will allow us to hire more people .. Everyone said it would never work but the reality is, we are smack bang in the middle of a national park and open spaces, the things they want for filming.”

The museum houses more than 60,000 items near Wanaka Airport.

Founded in 1994, it has 16 aircraft, more than 600 classic vehicles and New Zealand’s largest public toy display.

A new and expanded Lego exhibition will open as soon as cabinets can be made.

Mr Rhodes also wants to get an Auckland Lego master down to build a display, once travel restrictions lift.

He is looking for Kiwis with the skills to make car restoration pieces, after problems getting supplies from the United States.

Covid killed a good chunk of school holiday traffic in October but he hopes for better things at Christmas.

Visitor numbers were “soft”, perhaps half the usual pre-Covid school holiday visitor numbers of between 200 and 300 per day, he said.