Tongariro eruption creates business outside the square
Saturday cannot come soon enough for Tongariro alpine crossing guide Stewart Barclay.
His company, Adrift Outdoors, specialises in guided walks in the area but had to put suspend them after the mountain erupted late at night on August 6.
He has been waiting for GNS volcanologists and conservation department staff to give the okay to go back to the crossing, which they will do this Saturday.
The closure has forced Adrift to explore other business opportunities.
Mr Barclay says he has expanded the business to offer guided climbs to Mt Ruapehu’s crater lake as an alternative.
“It’s been so popular we’ve decided to offer the trek all year round, winter and summer.”
Mr Barclay says his numbers have fallen and he is now taking 10-20 people on a guided walk daily, as opposed to 20-30 before the eruption.
However, he told NBR ONLINE only four people who had already booked their walk have cancelled.
“We’ve managed to convert most of our business to Ruapehu, so we’re pretty happy about it. Out of all of our 100 bookings [since the eruption] we’ve lost four people who wanted to do Tongariro or nothing.”
Mr Barclay has been in a marketing meeting today, hoping to erect billboards in Auckland and Wellington advertising the new Ruapehu walk.
“So we’re putting a bit more money in there, but I think we’ll get a payback on that quite nicely.
"I think we’re definitely going to attract more people in the long run because there are two products we’re now promoting and Tongariro is in everybody’s minds – that’s a whole lot of promotion we didn’t have to do – but also, there are constant hot, steaming new vents up there out of Ti Mari.
"When that opens up in about a month I think that’s going to be a fantastic attraction. “
National Park business association chairman Murray Wilson agrees the move by Adrift is a positive one.
He is planning to speak with stakeholders later this week to get a better idea on the costs caused by the eruption.
But he says what they cannot factor in is the number of people who have not booked but have changed their minds because of the eruption.