COVID-19: Tourism Minister Stuart Nash hints at help for struggling tourist towns

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash is promising to do what he can for one of the country's hardest hit tourism destinations. 

Te Anau is in a fight for survival and desperately needs help.

With empty streets and empty cupboards, the small town is feeling the pinch. The trophy animals that bring international hunters to town - now prized by hungry locals.

"There's a lack of protein in town, there's plenty of dry foods so we took it on our back myself and fair game from Invercargill to go and shoot a load of deer to put 100kg's of mince into Te Anau and we did the same for Queenstown as well," business owner Kim Hollows told Newshub.

"It's desperate, things are desperate."

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Te Anau was an international destination but now they're fighting for what's left of the domestic market. 

"Even the likes of Queenstown they can fly in, fly out easily but to get them coming that extra 2.5 hours to here, it's just a step too far," Milford Kayaks owner Rosco Gaudin says.

When tourism dies in a town like this the flow-on impacts everyone.

"The cream comes from the tourism industry, these guys aren't just short of cream, they've got no milk, they've got nothing," pharmacist George Batchelor says.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash acknowledges that Te Anau is suffering more than most. 

"Things are tough here, it's probably the community that's doing the toughest of all our communities around the country," he says.

Nash admits more has to be done. 

"We do need to do more. I've promised to go back and have a look and see if we can speed up that process.

"It's really me sitting down with these business leaders and civic leaders, finding out what's going on and where the stresses are and taking that back to cabinet."

This is a promise these communities are relying on for survival.