The Nelson-Tasman region has faced a shortage of workers this summer, and no sector is being hit harder than hospitality.

"Most of the staff are backpackers, so they usually work six to eight weeks and then move on,” said Kerry Ford, owner/operator of Ford’s Restaurant. “I've got students but they will be gone by the end of February as well."

While there were plenty of younger workers applying for jobs, Ford said it was a lack of people with sufficient hospo experience which was making life difficult. Some of her workers were being forced to work six days a week, and while most didn’t mind the extra cash, it was still only a matter of time before they moved on. A lack of motivation in the service industry was partially to blame.

"People don't see hospitality as a career, especially front-of-house,” said Ford. “Overseas they do but in New Zealand they don't see it as a career opportunity, but it can be."

Nelson city proper isn’t the only place feeling the strain, with towns like Motueka and Takaka also struggling to fill vacancies. Venue owners who felt they had the luxury of picking and choosing a strong team were relying on a December rush of applicants, which just never came.