Whangamata locals ready for influx of Aucklanders, medical staff on edge

One Coromandel town can't wait for Aucklanders to break through the border on Wednesday as the township looks forward to a much-needed cash injection.   

Whangamata locals and their businesses have missed Aucklanders and their money-spending as they get set for a big weekend. However medical staff in the town are preparing for a long summer.  

Whangamata will soon see an influx of Aucklanders travelling to the Coromandel and they'll welcome them with open arms.

"Great, we need it," one local told Newshub, while another said, "I think we've been spoiled but it's time to open up."

Chill cafe owner Michelle Liddell said the past four months have been quiet, as they've missed out on Auckland and Waikato travellers. 

"I suspect we're going to have a huge weekend this weekend," Liddell told Newshub.  

The cafe is getting ready to ramp up vaccine pass checks as well. 

"So far so good, but I think with the weekend, with the extra people, it is going to be challenging," supervisor Britney Burrows told Newshub.

Just down the road, Turkish Master Kebabs is advertising for more staff. 

"I need staff because Aucklanders are coming," Turkish Master Kebab owner Goksel Buluntulu told Newshub. "I need a couple more, three part-time workers." 

The Palm Pacific Resort is lucky to have loyal annual summer bookings but felt the absence of business when the supercity border went up. 

"Numbers have definitely been way down since August, especially though October, November from Labour weekend," said Palm Pacific Resort owner Kelvin Cook.

"Labour weekend was normally 27 full units, we probably had about four for a couple of nights over that period." 

While there is excitement for reunions with family and a boom in business, there is some apprehension from local medical staff.

They're preparing to deal with the usual influx of summer travellers that includes three big concerts, holiday injuries as well as COVID.

"We're going from 4000 to over 100,000 people to look after," Whangamata Medical Centre GP Fiona Bolden told Newshub. 

The medical centre is currently the only place to get a COVID swab and Bolden said there are other limitations.  

"Our nearest hospital is actually Thames Hospital but we know they want to try and keep Thames free of COVID given it's got a limited capacity for negative pressure beds," Bolden said. "So it means that people are going to need to go to Hamilton." 

For now, the town is rolling out the welcome mat for Aucklanders.

"I think we're going to get bombarded, but they deserve it," one local said.

The locals are hoping it's bombarded with summer business and not COVID.

Watch the full story above.