Camping in the Bay: Cosy at the park

By Genevieve Helliwell

If you close your eyes and listen hard you'll hear the waves crash on the Omanu shoreline.

I look to my left and I see a man sitting under an umbrella, reading a book. He has a smile on his face. Ahead of me, a man plays his guitar to a toddler, who's dancing under the awning of a large tent. To my right is a girl lying on a towel on the lush green grass.

Everywhere I look, people are smiling. Even the men who are in the kitchen washing the lunchtime dishes.

If I could explain paradise, this would be it. Welcome to Cosy Corner Holiday Park.

Run by Greg Davidson and his partner Vicki Pike, the holiday park is a home away from home for the campers who stay there.

One family, the Stuarts, have been holidaying at the park for decades. They come back year after year and now it's a family tradition.

When the Bay of Plenty Times visited, we were introduced to three generations of Stuarts. Chris and Jan Stuart were relaxing with their children Grant and Stacey in their permanent campervan.

Stacey was cuddling her 22-month old niece Katelyn, whose parents had gone to Hamilton for a wedding.

"My parents first came here and I was brought here as a child," Mr Stuart said.

"It was a bit of a family tradition for me then dad sold the caravan and we got married and now the whole family comes along."

Grant and Stacey almost grew up at the campsite and spent many holidays exploring. Stacey, now 24, remembered getting lost at the campsite when she was about 2-years-old. Her mother found her hours later after she had ventured into another tent and made friends with the elderly woman who stayed there.

"This place is so safe. It's like one big family," Mr Stuart said.

"We've made really good friendships with the owners and all the people who stay here. [Greg's parents, who managed the camp before him] were like grandparents to the kids."

The 2 acre (0.8ha) holiday park is tucked along Oceanbeach Rd, near Omanu surf club. The beach is a stone's throw away but many guests prefer to swim in the solar-heated pool. It was one of the first pools built in Mount Maunganui more than 60 years ago, I was told by Ted Davidson, Greg's dad and owner of the holiday park.

Ted and Mavis Davidson bought the holiday park in 1968. Ted was working on the amenities block at Golden Grove holiday park when he said to the owner: "I wouldn't mind doing something like this."

The owner told him Cosy Corner was up for sale, so he asked Mavis whether she wanted to own a motor camp.

By the end of the day he had made an offer on the holiday park and the Davidsons were the new owners of the facility.

"He came back and said 'we do' and I said 'we do what' and he said 'we own a motor camp'. I thought he was only joking," Mavis said.

The couple turned the holiday park from drab to fab and began to form lifelong friendships with their clients.

In 1988, their son Greg came back from overseas and took over the holiday park while his parents went on a year-long world trip. Since then he has operated the camp with his partner Vicki, who has been involved for the past 12 years.

"I'm an auto-electrician by trade, so it was a change not working on cars, but I've been here since I was 6 so I generally knew how things went," he said.

Even though Greg's parents are no longer involved in the everyday running of the holiday park, they cannot bear to leave. They live on the back of the holiday park and love the company of holidaymakers.

The holiday park was at capacity over the Christmas/New Year holiday period and tapers off around Easter. About 80 per cent of guests were repeat customers and many others were from international destinations.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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