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Thrilled to just be here

June 27 2022 by Scott Stevens

Thrilled to just be here

Every Monday afternoon at 3.30pm for the last three months I have wandered the streets of downtown Queenstown for 45 minutes, killing time waiting for my daughter to finish her dance class. I go down Church Street around the waterfront through Steamer Wharf up Shotover Street down Beach Street, along Rees, back up The Mall along Camp Street down Cow Lane. You get the idea. Drifting.

I meet friends in the street and stop for a chat, I see fellow business owners standing outside their restaurants, bars or shops. I watch for Australian visitors. Like hunting deer in the bush. A sign, any sign of their presence. I shake my head at the painfully inept work ethic of CBD upgrade contractors. I think of that Dire Straits song “…look at those yo yos, that’s the way you do it, money for nothing…”

Not much changed for two- and three-quarter months. A bit depressing to be honest. Then, last Monday all of a sudden, the buzz was back. I don’t know if it was before or after the first direct flight back into ZQN from Aussie, but there were smiles on people’s faces. A sign our target species were back. Couples browsing restaurant menus wearing nice ski fashion choices straight out of the malls of Sydney.

The next morning was one of those super cold ones, negative something my nose told me. I was brushing frost off an outside table at my restaurant and a lady came out with a smile a mile wide. She must have had a good guest experience, so I smiled widely back. We started chatting. I remarked on the temperature and her response was pure joy. It went something like “I absolutely love it here, never experienced anything like this before, wow just look around, this is amazing.” Noticing her summery attire, I said she should pop down the road to the local puffer jacket shop. “No no no I must have been born for the cold, I’m from Cairns it’s bloody hot there, this just feels amazing”.

At this point all my worries just dissolved away into the frost. What I was seeing on the streets and in conversation with this very happy lady from Cairns was the new beginning of tourism in New Zealand. Or at least my hope for it. People visiting who really really want to be here. Grateful, respectful, happy guests who came to New Zealand and love it, because we are New Zealand. It seems pretty simple now, just be us, don’t sweat the small stuff and believe that every one of the 200 or 300 people getting off those planes direct out of Australia will be thrilled to just be here.

Scott Stevens

- Scott Stevens