Thames-Coromandel businesses at 'tipping point' after being cut off by severe weather

  • 07/02/2023

Long weekends are usually booming for businesses in the Thames-Coromandel but the recent weather event has caused retailers in district to reach their tipping point.

The severe flooding across the north of the country has isolated the district, resulting in a devastating loss of customers for local businesses.

The Coromandel is under a local state of emergency following the severe weather event.

Since then, the Thames-Coromandel district has been riddled with road closures, the most significant being State Highway 25A. 

SH25A is the main highway that connects Thames-Coromandel to the rest of the country, however, it has been closed between Kopu and Hikuai since January 25 after heavy rain caused part of the road to completely collapse.

SH25A. Photo credit: Newshub.

Other routes through the district are now open, such as the coast road (SH25) on the west, but the issue is people are being advised not to travel to places like Thames, a provincial service town.

"People are being told not to travel here so we're losing a lot of business and it's vital that we keep our businesses going," Thames Business Association CEO Sue Lewis-O'Halloran told Ryan Bridge on AM.

"We are kind of running out of resilience and we often talk about Thames businesses being so resilient but frankly, we're at the tipping point."

The town relies on visitors during summer, but with Waitangi weekend a bust due to the recent weather weekend businesses are doing it tough.

Owner of 100% Appliances in Thames and Whitianga Mark Milmine said his revenue is currently down around one-third.

He told AM poor weather since the start of November is keeping holidaymakers away and the recent road closures are exacerbating the issue.

"I think it was important that the district was closed for a day or two to get that remedial work underway but now that it's done I think the message does need to go out that the Coromandel is open for business."

Lewis-O'Halloran said she is concerned about the survival of businesses in the district, especially following the last two years which were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When we are being told that people should not come here and we're completely open and accessible and ready to do business… It's really a sadness that we can not promote our town because we really need that business," she said.

Milmine's message to holidaymakers is simple: "Come down and enjoy the summer that is surely about to arrive".

Watch the video above.