Wanaka’s permanent population is about 5,000 but it usually builds up to about 20,000 over New Year.
Locals and regular visitors know to stock up on supplies before then to avoid queues in the supermarket which can stretch the length of the aisles.
This summer I’ve never seen more than four or five people in a queue. The introduction of 6 self-checkouts will have helped but the rest of the supermarket hasn’t been as crowded as in past years either.
On New Year’s Eve we wandered into town at about 10.30 expecting to find the normal hordes and found a fraction of the number we’d seen in previous years.
There are still plenty of visitors but shops and businesses report they’re not here in the numbers they’ve come to expect at what is normally the peak holiday period.
Does that mean people have gone somewhere else, or is it a sign of recession and they’re staying at home?