Kaikoura campsites suffering post-quake downturn

This week is traditionally the busiest for the nation’s camping grounds, but less so this year in quake-ravaged Kaikoura.

In what's normally the busiest time of the year, fear of aftershocks and limited road access keeps many visitors away. Source: 1 NEWS

Concerns over aftershocks from November’s 7.8 quake as well as limited road access is taking its toll on visitor numbers, with many sites reporting a downturn in bookings.

The Top Ten Holiday park says it's normally fully-booked at New Year with all 420 sites and units full.

But this year they are sitting at around one-quarter to one-third of normal occupancy.

The park’s managers say as soon as communication was restored to the town in November their phones started ringing.

"It was pretty rough that first week or two post-quake just handling the cancellations which were coming in thick and fast," said manager Ed Nolan.

He says although having the main SH1 road south restored prior to Christmas has helped immensely, the fact the road north is still out of action hasn’t helped.

"If overseas tourists are getting off the ferry in Picton from Wellington, all of a sudden they try to put us in their GPS and it takes them the long way around for another seven and a half hours driving. And some people can't make it or they don’t have the time," Mr Nolan said.

However the holiday park and other local businesses say they are grateful for the large number of Christchurch visitors who’ve made the decision to come up and holiday, with many voicing their enthusiasm to support the local economy.

"We just thought we’d lost our summer and income for our families, so yeah, it’s good to see the people come and support Kaikoura businesses and send money here. And it's really heart-warming," said Jade Kiwi shop owner Cezanne Lyons.

There is one definite upside for those who have decided to make the effort and come to Kaikoura to camp this summer.

"At the moment we’re just telling people to spread out and enjoy the space," Mr Nolan said.