Opinion: lean pickings in the Bay

Bruce Tuten from Savannah, Georgia, United States, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

By Peter Carr

This week early Autumn travel is under way and I am enjoying the lush vista of rural Hawke’s Bay. It’s a delightful area that definitely believes it is still high summer. Cloudless sky, not a breath of wind and commerce is proceeding as normal. The downside is the large signs at orchard gateways indicating the need for fruit pickers.

For such is the effect of Covid, travel restrictions where the usual influx of either young European travellers escaping the winter and the Pacific Island income-earning seasonal visitors cannot enter to help the growers. That results in low gate prices and low returns in this normally bountiful area. Very sad.
Yet some locals, especially in Napier, were rejoicing in the lack of traffic bearing visitors to the annual Art Deco celebration. Where the vintage cars still passed by, the striped blazers and cloche hats were worn, and the jazz boomed out. But essentially it was only for the benefit of mainly locals. Moteliers, bar owners and restaurateurs sadly had a lean time without their annual boom income.

Even coming over the hill from Taupō we found the two roadside historic cafes were closed. I am tired of hearing about Auckland’s problem and even more of Queenstown’s dilemma. If the prices to visitors in the latter were more attuned to a local market, they could rejoice with their tills ringing.

The fields look spectacularly verdant as though freshly painted. Vineyards in their military rows abound especially in the stone-laden Gimblett Gravels area. Many years ago a respected French vintner described this area as almost identical to Bordeaux. A fine accolade.

Yet the area has lost, for this year anyway, a large influx of cash-bearing equestrian visitors to the now-cancelled Horse of the Year show. It’s shades of when we had to cancel the Fieldays last year. Huge financial pain.

But the Bay people are resilient. They will bounce back. And hopefully common sense regarding international travel will soon prevail and we can welcome back at least the Australians. Hopefully they will leave their crime-ridden 510 brethren where they belong. The incidence of increasing gun crime since they arrived is truly alarming.

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