SHARE

Maniototo’s indoor curling rink boomed when it opened in time for the school holidays, but the bubble quickly burst.

The facility’s busy streak of the past few weeks has since come to a sudden halt, with a decline in bookings, due to the effect of Covid-19.

As a result,its opening hours have been reduced from seven days a week to five and ‘‘dedicated’’ volunteers have been called on to tide the operation over until the rail trail season begins.

Maniototo Curling chairman Phil Dowling said staff had all agreed to this and understood the need for it, due to the wage subsidy ending.

Mr Dowling said he was very appreciative of the staff and people who had answered a call on social media for volunteers.

Rink manager Ewan Kirk said the facility had had strong bookings over the school holidays, particularly among people from outside the area wanting to explore their own backyard.

However, bookings were looking light beyond that, at least until the rail trail season returned in the warmer months.

 

 

‘‘We’ve had a lot of great interest. We just hope that interest now converts into actual activity and future bookings.’’

The rink was established as a training ground for representative curlers about 15 years ago.

Regular knocks on the door from people wanting to have a go prompted those behind the facility to open it to the public, attracting people from all around the world.

‘‘It’s become an iconic tourist attraction,’’ Mr Kirk said.

‘‘We get them into the game [and] we teach them just enough to get them going.’’

Mr Kirk said many of the people who had had their bookings cancelled due to lockdown had rebooked.

Some of them visited during the past school holidays, while others had rebooked for next year.

In some cases, people had ‘‘looked out their own back door’’ in a nationwide sense and discovered the facility.

‘‘It seems the domestic market has found us, to a point. They’ve said, if we are going on a holiday, where are we going to go?

‘‘The interest is there, but the million dollar question is how strong that interest will be and [will it ]convert into bookings.

‘‘That’s the unknown,’’ he said.

‘‘If it doesn’t, we’ll struggle until we get through to the next season.’’