Thousands of crickets fans have descended on Christchurch for the opening of the Cricket World Cup, packing out the city’s hotels and motels.
Only a handful of rooms are left in a city that “seems to be growing” in anticipation of one of the world’s largest sporting events.
There was a “genuine, general feeling of excitement” New Zealand Motel Association (NZMA) chief executive Michael Baines said.
NZMA members had room for six people across Christchurch as of 4pm on Wednesday. Moteliers were sharing room information on NZMA’s Duty Motel internet system, which had been designed specifically for big events.
Christchurch was noticeably more full up for the cricket than any other part of New Zealand. But this could be down to the lack of rooms caused by the quake, Baines said.
Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said Christchurch was “full house” on Saturday.
“I think we are nearly cooked in terms of Saturday night.”
The room sharing system was making it easier for I-site staff, run by the tourism body, to find accommodation for people.
Christchurch has, at times, run out of beds during the peak tourist seasons since the quake.
The lack has sparked complaints from travel companies.
Hunter said there were a few beds in hotels and backpackers, but most were for Friday and Sunday.
Next week the city will still be heaving.
“The night of February 18 looks like it is under pressure because we have Foo Fighters concert in town and this weekend we also have Coast to Coast sitting right on top of the World Cup,” Hunter said.
Owner of the Pavilions Hotel on Papanui Road, Debbie Horncastle, said the hotel was full for Friday and Saturday.
The combination of the cricket event, the usually high tourist bookings in February and March, and the American Antarctic Programme was filling the city’s hotels.
“They bring in whole plane loads from the ice. It’s a good thing for Christchurch,” Horncastle said.
IBIS Hotel general manager Tim Dearsley said the hotel and sister hotel Novotel were heavily booked. .
“The whole city is chocka.”
It was still possible to get a bed but not easy, he said.
Hunter said it would mostly be locals through the gates.
About three quarters of ticket sales for the three matches at Hagley Oval had gone to the “local community”.
The overseas visitor load was expected to be 1800 to 2000 people, plus 1000 players, officials, media and others connected to the tournament.