Reefton's population nearly triples with motorhome rally

26 February 2024
Development West Coast
Over the weekend, Reefton played host to the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association's (NZMCA) National Motorhome Rally, drawing approximately 1,500 attendees in 800 motorhomes and caravans.

The event, which took place from February 22nd to February 26th, marked a significant boost to the local economy and highlighted the region's appeal to domestic tourists.

Bruce Lochore, CEO of the NZMCA, emphasised the community's warm welcome and the impact such events have on smaller towns.

“We find that we're welcomed more in smaller communities than we are in say cities, so we can have a big impact on a small town like Reefton on a day-to-day basis, whereas in a city we're just one of many coming through.”

“It was an opportunity to work together with all three councils through Development West Coast and promote the whole region to all of our members, not just for the rally.”

Heath Milne, Development West Coast chief executive noted, "These types of events... bring people to the region, and they stay.”

“Reefton has really been one of the success stories over Covid. It's become a real destination in its own right.”

Visitor spending in Reefton in 2023 was 17% higher than pre-pandemic in visitor spending, according to data from MarketView.

Paula Kilkelly from Reefton Distilling Co. said “events like the motorhome rally are really great for Reefton. It definitely brings people into the area. We also have the Old Ghost Road and the Paparoas close by, so we get a lot of visitors coming, stopping in Reefton, and stopping at the distillery, and the feedback is everybody loves this small town.”

Michael and Helen Bain from Kerikeri have been participating in national rallies since 2012. “We came here about three years ago and enjoyed it, just independent traveling. And when they said the national rally was here, we said, we must come again. Yes. Well, love it,” Michael said.

Lochore added “We want to thank the people on the West Coast, the entire West Coast, and especially the little town of Reefton for welcoming us … We've been welcomed by the shop owners, and the pubs particularly, have been very welcoming and we just love it and want to thank them and the entire West Coast for hosting us.”

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