Home' Hospitality Business : HB MAR 2017 Contents 40 | Februar y 2017 | Hospitality BUSINESS
KAIKOURA’S 7.8 MAGNITUDE earthquake late last year may have
sent aftershocks r ippling through the hospitality industry, but for the
operators of some South Island towns there’s been a silver lining.
Freight costs across the country have taken a significant hike with
the transport industry forced to slap an extra 16 percent to 27 percent
surcharge on deliver ies.
Kaikoura operators have obviously been hardest hit, however, in the
tiny settlement of Springs Junction on the Lewis Pass - now a major
South Island thoroughfare – the local café is doing a r ip roar ing trade.
Springs Junction Café owner Jer r y Hohneck is putting through more
than double his usual trade for summer. He’s even extended to 24-hour
a day openings, seven days, to accommodate passing truckers and traffic.
South Island restaurateur Tony Robertson, who owns Styx
Restaurant in Nelson and Hamills in Queenstown, says the
earthquake and the closure of the main highway south from Picton
has definitely changed tour ist route patter ns. “We’re obviously seeing
a lot more people through Nelson, Murchison, Hanmer Springs and
Christchurch,” says Tony, a for mer vice-president of the Restaurant
Association of New Zealand. “It’s good for me in Nelson, and the West
Coast is having a bit of a bumper year as people have been drawn over
There’s been a lot more business through Nelson, and while
Tony’s Nelson restaurant is growing by 15 to 20 percent annually, he
estimates that this summer about 5 percent of that is attributed to the
earthquakes. “Murchison’s been ballistic. They’ve seen a big increase
there, as it’s the only route through from Picton to Christchurch.”
Hokitika on the South Island’s scenic West Coast has been
exper iencing something of a mini tour ism boom this summer. The
Beachfront Hotel’s newly-renovated Ocean View Restaurant has
been inundated with customers. Food and beverage manager Amber
Popaite estimates numbers through the hotel restaurant are probably up
between 20 and 30 percent compared with previous summers.
“Everybody in Hokitika has felt it. It’s much busier in town...
non-stop, just going like crazy and it’s been going on all summer,” says
Amber. Restaurants in the coastal town have been full most nights,
especially if it’s a sunny evening. “People have been waiting 45 minutes
to get a table and they must book now,” she says.
Silver Lining for
Springs Junction Cafe
Apart from the initial week or so after the November 14 earthquake,
restaurateurs say freight delays weren’t significant and transport
companies went all out to ensure the ‘big taste’ got through.
However, that’s come at a cost. Big Chill Distribution Ltd chief
executive Mike Roberts says the earthquakes have had a huge effect.
With State Highway 1 between Kaikoura and Picton and the adjacent
railway likely to be closed for significant repairs until late this year,
truckers are now forced to drive an extra 280kms to get from Picton to
Christchurch.That’s nor mally a 700km retur n jour ney.
“The cost to our customers has been significant.Transport companies
operate on a pretty thin margin and all players have had to pass those
costs on,” says Mike. “The perception people have is that it’s a South
Island problem, but it’s the other way too. We’re seeing another level of
costs across the country.”
The transport industry couldn’t absorb those extra costs, so ultimately
the consumer has to pay, he says. “It’s had a major impact – more
impact to supply chains than the 2011 Christchurch earthquake as State
Highway 1 was open then.”
“The cost to our business is millions of dollars a year, and we’re only
Big Chill has had to roster on more drivers, more trucks and trailers,
and pay for accommodation with the longer driving hours.
Bidfood general manager for fresh Steve Kent says orders are
definitely up from hospitality operators on the South Island’s West
Coast, and those along the new alter nate inland route from Picton.
There’s been a huge increase in tour ism growth on the West Coast year
on year, and part of that this summer will no doubt be the earthquakes,
he says. “It’s been a good welcome boost to the Coast.”
The earthquake has had no real impact on supply. “The only
implication, and it’s not for us, is the cost for growers of moving stuff
up the country,” says Steve. There will be an increased cost to growers
of the likes of stonefruit in Central Otago moving that north, he says. n
40 | March 2017 | Hospitality BUSINESS
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