Visitors have been flocking to South Canterbury this summer, if campground visitor numbers are anything to go by.
Department of Conservation Aoraki-Mt Cook manager Brent Swanson said revenue generated by the camping ground near Aoraki-Mt Cook Village had increased 45% compared with the same time last year.
He said staff had also seen increased interest in the walks around the national park, especially with the good run of weather.
Mueller Hut had been “pretty much maxed out” with bookings by trampers for bunks in the hut throughout the summer.
“All our walks are very popular.”
The tramping tracks and day walks had been “very popular” with visitors this summer, climbers also notching up some successful ascents of peaks in the park, Mr Swanson said.
The closure of Murchison Hut due to cracking in the land near the structure had not affected the number of mountaineers climbing peaks in the area, Mr Swanson said.
The hut, used by climbers and owned by the New Zealand Alpine Club, was due to be assessed by Doc staff this week to see whether it could be relocated to a more secure location in the park.
Holidaymakers have also been venturing to Lake Tekapo over recent weeks.
Lake Tekapo Holiday Park general manager Andrea Cox said tent sites had been full most nights.
She said while there were some vacancies earlier in the day, by night-time all the sites had usually been been snapped up.
The park’s Lotus Belle tents, which offer a glamping-style experience, were also proving popular – so much so that an extra five had been added to meet demand this summer, she said.
However, the new tents would not be available until additional toilets had been installed at the campground.
“We just couldn’t get them in before Christmas,” Mrs Cox said.
Once the toilets had been completed, 16 of the tents of various sizes would be available for hire.
She expected the additional tents to be available for bookings later this month.
Mrs Cox said the holiday park had created space for new sites this summer.
“We opened up 68 new sites that we thought we wouldn’t need till the new year but we’ve been filling them since Christmas and, unfortunately, turning people away because people aren’t booking,” she said.
“It’s been a big summer and I don’t think it’s going to stop in a hurry.”
Timaru’s Glenmark Holiday Park has also had another typically busy festive season, with no signs of slowing down.
Owner-operator April Clifford said while the park’s units were often booked out, tent sites were still a possibility most nights.
“There’s always a patch of grass left somewhere,” she said.
A growing number of visitors were heading to Caroline Bay to see the penguins, she said.
“The penguins have been a real hit, which is good. Everybody is hearing about them on social media and people say they want to see the penguins.”
The Caroline Bay Carnival was also another drawcard, she said.
“You do get the regulars – they went when they were children and they bring back their children,” Mrs Clifford said.