It is the defining characteristic of Central Otago’s people — and one that is keeping some towns in the region ticking over since the advent of Covid-19.

Maniototo Business Breakfast Group chairwoman Janyne Fletcher said various industries had kept the area in good stead, particularly agriculture in Ranfurly and domestic tourism in Naseby.

Even when snow was falling, the towns were buzzing.

That was evident earlier this month.

As snow fell midweek two weeks ago, cafes were busy as people queued for a hot drink while catching up with friends and children flocked to Naseby’s ice rinks.

“A lot’’ of tradies are still working in the area and, as was the case everywhere, agriculture never stopped.

The district was ‘‘not setting the world on fire’’ since the advent of Covid-19, ‘‘but things are ticking along OK’’, Mrs Fletcher said.

People’s positive attitudes were playing a large part in the area’s success.

‘‘[They are] just getting on with whatever industry they are in. That’s part of the reason I’m here [in my studio] today, because I’m working on new work.’’

Mrs Fletcher, a photographer, has continued to sell her works, but it was ‘‘not quite business as usual’’.

Instead of selling to international tourists, her works were being snapped up by New Zealanders wanting to treat themselves for a change.

School holidays contributed to Maniototo’s recent influx of visitors, something that had been noted at the Naseby Ice Rink.

Rink manager Jeremy Hore said the facility’s annual disco and costume party, which it recently hosted, had a record turnout of 180 — about 80 more than usual.

He put the increase down to more people visiting from the North Island and outlying districts.

Mrs Fletcher agreed.

Domestic tourism was ‘‘pumping’’, thanks to New Zealanders wanting to tick Naseby off their bucket list, she said.


Destination Central . . . Central Otago is proving a popular destination among New Zealanders wanting to explore their own back yard. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON


Mr Hore, who owns Maniototo Sheep Handling, has also been busy in the agricultural sector.

He said business had been steady and was continuing to be that way as the pre-lamb season started.

Farmer and Maniototo ward councillor Stu Duncan said while there was some uncertainty within the agricultural sector, ‘‘everything is going all right’’.

It had been a ‘‘reasonably good’’ winter because there had not been too much snow.

Regarding the primary sector, milk and beef prices were positive, but wool, not so much.

There was also political ‘‘uncertainty’’, which was concerning some farmers, but overall the industry was tracking well, he said.

Mr Duncan, who co-owns Wedderburn Cottages, said Otago Central Rail Trail bookings were ‘‘quite strong’’.

‘‘There’s a lot of interest in the rail trail at the moment, which is understandable given people are looking to do something in New Zealand rather than go elsewhere.’’

Bike It Now! director Kathryn Fletcher said she was ‘‘cautiously optimistic’’.

The trails around the district had been busy, particularly with families, due in part to the activity’s affordability.

‘‘It’s priced at domestic prices — that’s what makes a family trip on one of the trails quite appealing.’’

Cycle shops had done well since lockdown as people wanted to get outdoors more, she said.

However, supply was now an issue because it was becoming difficult to get bikes into the country.

Lee McIntosh also said she had been busy at her Alexandra store, Kiwi Milk Bar and Cafe.
‘‘The town seems busier,’’ she said.

She put it down to more people supporting local businesses and New Zealanders making the most of the district as a holiday destination.

‘‘Normally in winter everybody disappears overseas. The town empties out.’’

Wanaka cafe-bar owner Roger North has also been enjoying a busy period.

Mr North, who owns and manages Kai Whakapai, said takings were up and he was appreciating the support from the domestic tourism market.

At Alert Level 3 his business had received 14% of its normal takings.

By the end of the school holidays that was up to 103%, he said.

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