Dunedin will experience an invasion this weekend not seen since its gold rush days.
The cause? One man and his guitar.
Ed Sheeran is in town, and with him, 65,000 visitors who will swell Dunedin’s population by more than a third.
The influx is causing major traffic headaches for the New Zealand traffic agency, as it plans to manage 21,000 extra cars entering the city.
But accommodation houses and restaurants are reaping the rewards, with venues booked out all over Dunedin – many since before the tickets even went on sale last May.
Otago Motel Association president Sue Rhodes said all rooms at her motel were booked within four minutes of confirmation last May that Sheeran’s would play, and it was a similar story for most of the city.
”Absolutely everything will have been booked out. Anything that’s got a bed will be gone,” she told the Otago Daily Times.
Commodore Motel owner Rick Meder said he had never experienced a rush like that following the announcement that Sheeran was coming.
”It’s bigger than an All Blacks’ test because he appeals to a completely different audience,” he said.
”Ed Sheeran appeals to everybody. Anyone from a teenager right up to a grandma.”
Hospitality New Zealand Otago president Mark Scully told stuff.co.nz that the weekend influx was “bigger than anything we’ve ever seen”.
“Accommodation’s full, private accommodation’s full. It’s not just the commercial accommodation which is obviously chocka, I think the town is bursting at the seams in terms of people hosting their friends.”
Restaurants are also booked out, with Ironic Café and Bar owner Steve Wilson reporting he had been planning around the weekend for months.
“The biggest event that we’ve ever had was the Rugby World Cup in 2011. This is going to be bigger than that,” he said.
Sheeran said he understood the “kerfuffle” his visit was causing for the usually sedate Otago city, because big names coming to his similarly-sized home town of Ipswich were such a rarity during his childhood that they would fuel a similar frenzy.
We have never seen anything like it in this city,” venues manager Terry Davies told stuff.co.nz.
“It will be a test, but it will be amazing.”