The one-two punch of Labour Day and Marlborough Anniversary Day means one thing to tourist providers; the summer season is here.
As the weather warms up, so too do visitor numbers and tour bookings for the Marlborough region.
Giesen Wines cellar door manager Victoria Lewis said the winery had already noticed more people coming through for tastings.
“When the sun’s out, the leaves are on the vines, people are around. It feels like summer has started,” she said.
“We didn’t go as quiet as we expected over winter, we think that the tourists kept coming this year.
“It’s only one week to Garden Marlborough and the Labour Weekend has just passed, it feels like we’re on the final approach.”
Lewis estimated the winery would provide tastings to hundreds of patrons in the height of summer.
“In that week before Christmas it gets really busy, you almost can’t believe how many people come out of the woodwork,” she said.
“It seems like the tourists are getting the message on Marlborough.
You want them to go away knowing they’ve had an enjoyable experience while here.”
Havelock Community Association community development adviser Hans Neilson said traffic through the town had started to increase.
“This time of year it just explodes,” he said. “After Labour Weekend everything just ramps up.
“You can tell by the amount of cars parked on the main strip.”
This month marked the one year anniversary of the opening of the Havelock i-Site.
Neilson said the centre had been a success and helped the community to recognise what interested visitors to the area.
“For most people coming from the Nelson side this is the first step into Marlborough and it is important for us to capture that,” he said.
The opening hours of the Havelock i-Site mirrored the seasonal demand, extending from 2pm to 4pm every day of the week.
Neilson said the Havelock Community Association was working to encourage overnight tourists through the marketing of walking tracks, aquaculture and its cafe scene.
Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston said operators were in the final preparations for summer.
“There are a number of new and expanded experiences and services coming online throughout the next four weeks,” she said.
“This not only demonstrates local business confidence in the visitor economy but also ensures the region is well placed to capitalise on the record numbers of visitors predicted to arrive into New Zealand this summer.”
Cruise ships were one way tourists would be visiting our shores.
Ovation of the Seas, the largest cruise ship to sail New Zealand waters, would dock in Picton in late December. It could hold a capacity of 4905 passengers.
Escape to Picton owner Juliearna Kavanagh said her team always looked forward to the seasonal influx.
“We have a packed restaurant at the moment so we’re certainly not complaining,” she said.