School is out, internal borders have freed up and the trails are open.
Cycle tour operators in Central Otago are expecting to be busy from next week, but not from an influx of new customers so much as a wave of rescheduled bookings.
One commercial operator also believes that domestic travellers need to start thinking differently about the logistics of travel, and plan as far ahead as they do for international travel.
Trail Journeys general manager Simon Stevens said early December was typically a peak period for trail riders but this year it had been “pretty quiet”.
“We had a load of people who had booked for early December who have rescheduled,” he said.
“I think everyone is a little gun-shy at the moment.”
Lorraine Duncan, who with her family runs Wedderburn Lodge and Cottages, right on the Otago Rail Trail, also said business had been quiet but expected it would “go crazy after Christmas”.
Many of those guests would be rescheduled bookings, she said.
“We still have clients in Australia who booked for during the first lockdown and haven’t been able to get here.”
Bike It Now co-owner Kathryn Fletcher said the borders reopening from December 15 had not resulted in an influx of new bookings, but rather of people rebooking.
It was a similar case for Central Cycle Trail, whose general manager Pip Thomson said there had been a lot of “chopping and changing” this year.
With quarantine-free travel still closed to foreign nationals, a lot of customers from Australia were having to reschedule, she said.
She expected January through April would be busy as usual, but a lot of people would wait until the last minute to plan, “so they know they can travel”.
Mr Stevens, of Trail Journeys, also expected “a whole lot of spontaneous bookings over Christmas”, with people trying to book last minute.
He said many would be lucky to do so at peak periods, as the numbers were limited by accommodation options and availability of bikes, especially the popular e-bikes.
He believed New Zealanders would have to book things further in advance once travel options eased further, for purely logistical reasons.