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South Wairarapa economy positively buzzing

A crowd gathers at the Martinborough Fair. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

South Wairarapa has cracked the top five territorial authorities in the country when it comes to economic expansion.

The district’s economy expanded 5.4 per cent in the year to March 2017, more than double the average for the Wellington region according to statistics supplied by Infometrics.

Queenstown Lakes was New Zealand’s fastest growing economy at 6.8 per cent.

South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier said the figures were “really positive”.

“I think you can see it in the towns themselves, and you can see it in the whole district generally.

“There’s people there, people buying stuff, people staying for the weekend . . . there’s a positive buzz going on.”

Guests spending nights in South Wairarapa grew by 14 per cent compared with 3.2 per cent in the national economy.

Mrs Napier said South Wairarapa provided a range of activities for visitors, and the short commute from Wellington also meant it was easily accessible.

“With tourism, we have a good product in that we have a wide variety of things.

“If you want to go out and see nature or go shopping you can do that, or if you like wine and food there are plenty of options to do that as well . . . I think they all feed off each other.”

Seeing visitors arriving in droves throughout the summer months, despite not having the greatest weather, was “really cool”, she said.

Infometrics managing director, Andrew Whiteford, said the boost in South Wairarapa’s economy was due to several contributing factors.

“The growth in both domestic and international tourists have resulted in a retail boom for the district.”

House sales grew by 23 per cent in South Wairarapa, compared to a decline of 4.5 per cent nationally.

The “red hot” housing market could be put down to Wellingtonians looking further afield for more affordable housing options, he said.

The district also saw an increase in the number of scientific, professional and technical workers, with two-thirds of highly skilled individuals in the district now self-employed.

Destination Wairarapa general manager, David Hancock, said South Wairarapa’s strong economy was reflective of the good work being done across all Wairarapa.

“With a large percentage of our accommodation being in South Wairarapa, it’s no surprise that tourism is growing particularly well down there, as it is across the whole region.

“The other thing that is really important is Wairarapa tourism operators have grown in their capability as individuals, and we’re now starting to see them grow as an industry.”

The length of time people chose to stay in Wairarapa had also improved, beating out some of the most well-known tourism spots in the country, he said.

“We only measure this annually, but out of 33 regions that were measured, Wairarapa sits as the 19th best region for length of stay.

“That’s better than Rotorua, Waikato, Dunedin and Taupo, which are the next four behind us.”


  1. …and the climate is great, naturally beautiful environment, near but not too near a major city/airport, no traffic issues, diverse population..still affordable and much more !

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