Great Barrier business owners struggling to keep up with influx of tourists

 Some cafés have had to close entirely as they ran out of food.
Some cafés have had to close entirely as they ran out of food. Photo credit: Getty

Business owners on Great Barrier Island are struggling to keep up with an influx of visitors over summer.

Chief executive of Great Barrier airline Fly My Sky Scott Young told Newshub there's been a definite increase in tourists flying to the island, which is great for the post COVID-19 economy - but it's a double-edged sword.

"The biggest challenge on Great Barrier right now is the island is packed out," he says.

"Restaurants can't operate at night because they can't get the staff - they're struggling to find seasonal workers because there's nowhere to stay - all the accommodation is booked out."

Cafe owner Rochelle Winger told Newshub the surge in demand has been "a shock to the system".

"There've been so many people coming to the island but not enough staff to be able to hold that amount of people.

"On a couple of occasions we've had to close our kitchen just to give ourselves a break, a day off to spend with our kids."

Winger says her café frequently ran out of food items as demand outstripped supply - and some other cafés have had to close entirely when they ran out of everything.

Both she and Young say the real question is what will happen in the off season.

"What will be interesting is to see whether the low season goes as low as it usually does," said Young. 

Winger says it's already started to mellow a bit - "it will be interesting to see what happens moving forward, whether this is just a bit of a lull or if it will continue to be busy."