Paula Bennett has made her first trip to quake damaged Kaikōura as Minister of Tourism, and has appealed to Cantabrians to show their support by continuing to visit the coastal town.
It has been two months since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck north Canterbury, with Kaikōura and the surrounding area suffering significant damage.
Kaikōura had expected to enjoy the economic benefits of what was anticipated to be one of the country's busiest summer tourist seasons, but the continued closure of State Highway 1 north of the town has curtailed numbers.
Tourism Minister Paula Bennett met with locals and business owners in Kaikōura in a day-long visit yesterday.
"Boy, they've had some challenges, they've got some challenges, but the optimism of the tourist operators is inspiring."
Ms Bennett thanked holidaymakers from Christchurch who had visited and asked those who live further afield to consider visiting to show their support for the town.
"The more of that that can happen the better."
Businesses she spoke to were optimistic but challenges, including inconsistency of visitors, remained, she said.
Visitors to Kaikōura fell into three groups - those that were travelling to see the aftermath of the earthquake and its impact on the landscape; those who were coming anyway; and those who were making a special effort to visit.
Among the challenges the town faced was the closure of State Highway 1 north of the town, and the inconsistency of the opening of the southern road, which was closed two days this week for repairs, Ms Bennett said.