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Northland businesses to enjoy short ‘boost’ as Brynderwyns reopens for Easter

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Old Packhouse Market Kerikeri owners Warrick and Judy Hyland are looking forward to the Brynderwyns opening over Easter. Photo / Jenny Ling

Northland businesses hit by a downturn in customers due to the Brynderwyns closure are hoping trade gets back to “normal” over the Easter break.

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi [NZTA] will reopen SH1 over the Brynderwyn Hills for six days from 12.01am on March 28 to 11.59pm on April 2, giving businesses a much-needed boost and visitors and locals a respite from rambling detour routes.

Old Packhouse Market Kerikeri owner Judy Hyland said she had noticed a 15 per cent drop in business since the Brynderwyns closed on February 26 for urgent repairs to fix storm damage.

Though last Saturday was “amazingly busy”, weekdays and the two weekends before that had been quieter, she said.

“I’m sure it [the closure] has a psychological effect on people driving north.

“That’s why I’m so pleased they’re opening up this weekend, it means we’ll get one good shot at a busy four days.”

Makana Confections director Brian Devlin said he noticed a slight downturn in customers coming through the boutique chocolate shop in Kerikeri.

However, he said with the Brynderwyns open over Easter, it should be pretty normal.

“It’s not really caused us the upset that we envisaged.”

Devlin said Easter was always busy for Makana on Kerikeri Rd.

“The chocolate business and Easter go hand in hand.

“After Christmas, Easter is the busiest period of the year.”

Devlin said they would probably use up at least 1.5 tonnes of chocolate in Kerikeri.

Makana Confections director Brian Devlin is getting ready for a busy Easter.
Makana Confections director Brian Devlin is getting ready for a busy Easter.

Admirals View Lodge and Motel owner Penny Davidson-Boles said the Brynderwyn closure hadn’t had an impact. The motel was fully booked this weekend.

March had been good, she said.

“What happens next month is another thing, but we’re looking forward to being a bit quieter because it’s been a busy season.”

Visitors and locals can travel SH1 over the Brynderwyns this Easter without having to go via detour routes.
Visitors and locals can travel SH1 over the Brynderwyns this Easter without having to go via detour routes.

Kerikeri Business Association chairwoman Sarah Curtis said feedback from members had been pretty positive. No one had reported missed deliveries or less customers due to the closure.

A lot of work had been put into social media campaigns highlighting the positives of detour routes and reminding people the Brynderwyns were open over Easter, she said.

“I don’t think we’ve lost a lot of business … people are making it more of a journey rather than stressing it adds another 10 minutes onto the drive,” Curtis said.

“Everyone is hoping for the same Easter traction, no one is expecting a major amount of additional people but as long as we get the usual amount.”

Curtis said the narrative was that Northland is open for business and visitors are wanted and welcomed.

Northland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darryn Fisher said the closure had been slightly better than expected. However, it was difficult to say whether businesses were quiet due to the Brynderwyns closure or the current economic downturn, especially now that New Zealand was officially in a recession.

“It’s been pretty consistent that retail in particular all the way since Christmas has been pretty quiet,” Fisher said.

He said they had seen a drop-off since January 16.

“The construction industry is still quiet as well as the real estate industry.”

Northland real estate agents have already reported a dip in people attending open homes and private viewings, with many, including Aucklanders, delaying travel due to lengthy detours.

Northland Inc chief executive Paul Linton was looking forward to people travelling north for Easter.

“We encourage people to explore the amazing places, businesses and people that Northland has to offer and to take a trip Northland-style, making the journey through the winterless north part of their holiday, not just the destination.”

The Brynderwyn Hills will open to all traffic, in both directions, for six days over the Easter break.

The highway will close again from April 3 until May 12 during which time motorists have to revert to detouring along Paparoa-Oakleigh Rd and Cove Rd for light vehicles, and SH12 and SH14 for heavy trucks.

NZTA regional relationships director Steve Mutton said a huge amount of work had been undertaken at the Brynderwyns so far.

“The project team is well on track to complete the remaining work that requires a full closure after the Easter break.”

Motorists are asked to allow extra time on their journey as traffic is expected to increase.

Jenny Ling is a news reporter and features writer for the Northern Advocate. She has a special interest in covering roading, lifestyle, business, and animal welfare issues.



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