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We're here! . . . A group of cyclists are delighted to arrive in Oamaru on New Year's Day, completing the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail. The Australian and Auckland riders, some from the Manukau veteran cycle club, set off from Mt Cook Station on December 28 on the 312km journey. PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS

After a quiet start to 2019, a public celebration will be held to welcome 2020, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

A family-friendly event would be hosted by the Waitaki District Council, which would have a new events specialist on its staff by then, Mr Kircher told the Oamaru Mail this week.

The festivity would cater for the increasing number of local people staying in town for New Year and the growing number of visitors.

It would be “another option” for revellers, Mr Kircher said.

“It’s not about taking away from what the pubs, etc, are doing.”

The activities they offered for the recent New Year “catered to the crowd well”.

“Overall, things are pretty busy,” he said. “There are a lot of people passing through, staying a night or multiple nights.”

They continued to be “blown away” by what they discovered.

The council would like more of the district’s eateries to be open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, he said.

“As a council, we spend a reasonable amount on promoting the area to tourists. When you’re in the hospitality industry, you need to provide hospitality.

“We’re doing what we can to help those businesses through most of the year.

“Without tourists, there wouldn’t be as many restaurants.”

It was hard for cafe owners to strike a balance between providing a service and ensuring they and their staff had enough time off, Mr Kircher said. He recommended they work together to “take turns” at being open.

“We’re really lucky to have great operators providing great food and coffee.

“I’d like to acknowledge all who were working – in hospitality, the local hospital, and emergency services.”

Visitor numbers were likely to remain high for the next three months, he said.

Meanwhile, second and third generations of Waitaki residents were enjoying camping holidays, the council’s Waitaki Lakes camp supervisor, Simon Fox, said.

“There was a really slow build-up to Christmas Day,” which he believed was due to the December weather and Christmas falling on a Tuesday.

Then the hot weather arrived and so did the campers.

“The majority were family units.

“There were a few young people at New Year. It went really well. To their credit, they cleaned up their sites.”

Mr Fox was impressed by the improved behaviour of a few people he had sent home at Labour Weekend. He found that this time, with families present, they were respectful of others.

Most holidaymakers at the council’s six camping areas – Parsons Rock, Boat Harbour, Wildlife Reserve, Loch Laird, Sailors Cutting and Falstone Creek – had been New Zealanders.

It was “incredibly cheap” to park a caravan right beside the lake – a fact lost on many locals, Mr Fox said.

“They don’t realise how good they’ve got it. The first people to say so are the foreigners, who say there’s not much of this where they come from.”

The number of overseas visitors usually increased from now until the end of April, he said. The camps had “emptied out a bit” but a “second wave” was likely about now.