As most Oamaru residents head out of town for the festive season, the Victorian Precinct is experiencing a tourism boom.
Whitestone Civic Trust heritage co-ordinator Faye Ormandy said the Precinct was the busiest it had ever been.
A number of new businesses opened in the Precinct last year, which added to the variety, she said.
"I think everyone is really happy with how it is," she said.
"The businesses have been working really hard. To promote our new brochure, everybody's got on board. Working together and working hard at it."
A push for preservation and development of the Precinct started in 1989.
The shift of commerce to Thames St and the eventual closure of the Port of Oamaru in the 1970s proved fortuitous for the town's 19th century heritage.
It allowed the Precinct to remain largely intact and in 1989 the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust was established to preserve and develop the unique area.
"It started a long time ago. It was probably 1989 when it really got under way. At times, too, we have to remind ourselves what we came from," Mrs Ormandy said.
"We really started with buildings that needed a lot of work done to them, and in the early days that's where the focus was.
"In the last four to five years, the Trust has had a focus on the activity that has gone into the buildings. I think we've got a good mix of activity in the buildings now. There's a good mix of retail, and things to see and do."
An increase of media coverage and national and international publicity could be credited to the tourism boom.
"I think it's general word of mouth around the country. Oamaru has had a tremendous amount of publicity. For quite a small town we get a lot of good publicity. That all adds up," Mrs Ormandy said.
Other influences included the re-opening of the Criterion, the Oamaru Farmers' Market, the Steampunk playground and the Harbour re-development.
"Having the Cri open and just having something going on in every building is essential," Mrs Ormandy said.
"People have realised just how good it is. I think it's also the place that locals are bringing their visitors to, which is fantastic."
From here, Mrs Ormandy said the Precinct would always be evolving.
Tigerlillies re-opens soon and the Sustainable Skills Summer School workshops are expected to bring more people to the Precinct.
"It's just ongoing," she said.
Oamaru Cycle Works proprietor David Wilson said this summer had been a bumper season already. "This is the best it's been. There's been great numbers coming through," he said.
"A lot of people forget it was 1985 that talks started about restoration. It's working really well, it's great," he said.
Lazy Cat Pottery and Tileworks owner Vaughan Tessier-Varlet backed up claims the Precinct was as busy as ever.
"We've been here for five years and I think it is just getting more attention," he said.
"I think it's probably the busiest I've ever been."
Mr Tessier-Varlet said the tourism boom came down to a combination of factors.
"A lot of it seems to be spread by word of mouth," he said.
An increase in tourism has allowed Mr Tessier-Varlet to expand his business by more than five times and open a cafe and ice-cream parlour in the Precinct in the past year.
"We have a lot of people who come to Oamaru, expect to stay a couple of hours and stay for two nights. There's then an on-flow for the restaurants and motels," Mr Tessier-Varlet said.
He said it was great to see more professional businesses in the Precinct.