Kaikoura has lost about $55 million in visitor spending since last year's devastating earthquake but tourism operators are hopeful the cash injection will recover with the summer season about to kick off.
The first anniversary of the November 14, 2016 quake is less than a week away and the town now faces something of a recovery quandary - how to house both workers and tourists.
The 7.8-magnitude jolt caused widespread damage and ruled it out as a tourist destination for months.
Destination Kaikoura statistics show that visitor spending was down from $121 million to $66m for the year ending in September.
Visitor spending was expected to take an even bigger hit, but that has been offset with road crews booking accommodation.
Accommodation providers say they're now in a Catch-22 situation. More tourists are heading back to Kaikoura a year after the quake, but they still need to provide beds for the much-needed contractors.
Lobster Inn Motor Lodge owner Julie Pablecheque says they are in a tough spot.
"Tourists want to come back, and that's great, but contractors are still trying to book (accommodation)," Ms Pablecheque said.
The motor lodge suffered mainly cosmetic damage in the quake and had remained open - housing a large number of contractors.
But it was now a fine balancing act for Ms Pablecheque, who said they need this summer's market of tours to come through, but they also the contractors in town to keep rebuilding.
"You can't accommodate both during the week.... (and) without the tourists, the retailers and activities will suffer," she said.
Ms Pablecheque is prepared for contractor bookings to continue well into the new year.
"We're all quite happy with how things are moving, these guys are working big hours and getting the work done," she said.
"It's not a five-minute fix".
KAIKOURA VISITOR NUMBERS:
* Visitor spending down $55m since September 2016
* Commercial accommodation dropped 80.5 per cent in December 2016
* There were 705,856 visitors in 2016, and 344,536 in 2017 (year end October 2017)
* 51 per cent decline in tourist numbers (year end October 2017)
* Domestic visitors down 53 per cent and international visitors down 45 per cent (year end October 2017).