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Family outing . . . Heading out on a bike ride at Boat Harbour camping ground near Otematata are (from left) Andrew and Chase (3, left) Geddes, Jenna Geddes (5), Aidan Foster, Imogen Foster (10), Michelle Foster, Couper Foster (7), Heather Geddes and Bailey the dog, all of Christchurch. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

The holiday season has ended on a high note in the Waitaki district.

For local retailers, the build-up to Christmas was a busy one as many shoppers – in particular European tourists – flocked to the town.

Grant McDiarmid, owner of McDiarmid’s Footwear, said the holiday period had been “fairly steady” for businesses in Oamaru because of the large number of visiting tourists.

“People are a bit slower to move around in the holiday time and there were more visitors about.”

Mr McDiarmid also believed the number of people visiting had increased because Oamaru had evolved into a travel destination for many travellers.

Dawn Brown, owner of Presence on Harbour gift shop, said the retail scene was “reasonable” and very similar to the previous year’s holiday season.

“Over the Christmas and New Year period, we’ve been steady most days,” she said.

Mrs Brown thought the Oamaru retail community needed to work together if it was going to improve business for the next holiday period.

She thought retailers could generate more business by keeping their stores open during weekends in the holiday period – a time when New Zealand customers shopped the most.

“I think, for Oamaru, we need to work together because a lot of people come to the old part of town now that it has become more popular.

“If the main street is closed, they are not going to get much business.”

Meanwhile, with temperatures on a high throughout, camping grounds in North Otago were dominated by families and young campers.

Simon Fox, who is contracted by the Waitaki District Council to manage and maintain Parson’s Rock, Boat Harbour, Wildlife Reserve, Loch Laird, Sailors Cutting and Falstone Creek camping grounds, said he was thrilled with how the season turned out.

Mr Fox said it was one of the first seasons in a while where there had been no big problems in the camping grounds during the holiday season.

“I had a couple of young school groups that traditionally can be untidy cleaning up and I’m pleased to report that those groups were very respectful of the families around them,” he said.

Kurow Holiday Park owners Theo and Diane Curtis said they were “incredibly busy” as the park was full of campers.

The couple also thought the summer weather worked out nicely for campers at the park with the minimal rain meaning children came out of the tents and got into the water.

“Everyone behaved themselves with a great family atmosphere with hundreds of kids,” Mrs Curtis said.