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'We’re going to have a massive winter' - Small Kiwi towns hoping for big benefits from trans-Tasman bubble

Businesses in the Wairarapa region are hoping to see some of the tourism cheer Australians bring once the travel bubble opens.

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Some regions close to big centres have seen an increase in spending from Kiwis and there's excitement for what a return for international guests will mean. Source: 1 NEWS

Small towns like Martinborough have been a hit with New Zealanders going on weekend getaways since the borders closed.

The area is hoping to see that trend continue.

"We’re one of the handful of regions last year that actually grew their tourism base. And so you think, wow success, and now coming back is our favourite and largest international market. It’s extraordinary," said Destination Wairarapa’s Barbara Hyde.

Last year the district’s domestic tourism spend increased by nearly 7 per cent, with Kiwis spending close to $100 million in local businesses.

Martinborough is known for its abundance of vineyards that are all so close together visitors can cycle between them.

The team at Poppies Martinborough told 1 NEWS its biggest online buyers during lockdown were Australians, and it’s hoping to see those customers once quarantine-free travel kicks off.

"Australians were our biggest international guests as far as numbers go," said Shayne Hammond, the vineyard’s general manager.

"Mid-week especially, the whole place could be filled with Aussies.” 

Poppy Hammond, the brand’s namesake, said the restaurant and cellar door saw its biggest day in its eight-year history over the Easter break.

"Kiwis have just been phenomenal. We had our biggest day last Saturday, which was just epic," she said.

Poppy's husband Shayne said the business’s customer base has expanded significantly.

“Places like us have benefitted hugely. We’ve got a bigger demographic, a bigger market now."

Once the bubble opens and visits to family and friends are out of the way, Wairarapa business owners and tourism promoters expect to see an influx of Australian tourists.

“I think we’re going to have a massive winter,” said Hyde.

Figures from Bachcare show Australians are already booking up holiday homes around New Zealand.

Among the favourite spots are Raglan, Tauranga, Hanmer, and Martinborough.