The current pandemic (Covid-19) disrupted businesses and challenged societies all over the world. In particular, destinations are being urged to keep the attraction and value of their products and services in post-pandemic tourism recovery programs. Drawing from a qualitative study based on published reports and research, and using participant observation, this research analyses the situation of tourism in Akaroa, South Island of New Zealand, during the coronavirus outbreak and the first stages of the recovery process. Results of the research show that while crisis management led to the closure of the sector due to strict social and travel restrictions, the confinement measures adopted by the government and the progressive reopening of the country has resulted in a shift from “cruise tourism” into a gradual return of “domestic tourism”. This paper argues that local peoples’ perspectives must be kept in mind when developing a tourism recovery strategy. This case study also shows that because of the nature of changing working environment, there is potential to change local demography in the form of an increase in residents putting pressure on local infrastructure. In a rural and marine environment, local stakeholders’ attention is required to focus on “quality” of tourism rather than “quantity”. Nature-based resources and outdoor activities are expected to be the critical ingredients for tourism’s immediate and sustainable future.