Crunch time for holiday park owners

By Pippa Brown

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As Rotorua heads for a record-breaking summer and visitors flood the best holiday spots, spare a thought for those still working.

Accommodation managers and owners often live on site, are on call and living work day and night.

Having a relaxing view across "magical" Tikitapu (Blue Lake) helps Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park owners Sheryl and Brian Murray get through one of the busiest seasons the couple have experienced in the three years they've owned the park. At other times during the year they can feel quite alone.

"Living out here is a world all of its own," said Mrs Murray, a seemingly incongruous statement as hundreds of holiday makers now fill the park.

"It's lovely being on the other side [of the desk] but the view from this side is absolutely fantastic. It's the best view in the world - looking out across the lake is magical," she said.

Nestled in a native bush-clad valley with the lake stretched out in front guests seem to be absorbed into the 15-acre site, leased from the Department of Conservation (DOC), an idyllic and tranquil spot only 10 minutes drive from Rotorua.

"It's amazing how big this park is. It's a huge park and we are filled to the brim. Being DOC land it will never be developed - we treasure that," said Mrs Murray.

When the Rotorua Daily Post visited recently it was the busiest day of the year as Christmas holiday guests checked out and New Year holiday makers waited to check in.

It was hard to pin the owners down or get a question in as they directed staff, checked guests in and out, answered questions and sorted anything out of place. No detail is left out as Mr Murray stops to pick up small bits of rubbish and left property off the ground.

"It's difficult at this time of year," he said. "This is crunch time and we're constantly flat-out in a really busy six-week period and it's a fulltime job. The million-dollar view becomes hard to see when it's so busy and there's so much to be done."

There are more than 500 guests on site and most of them have booked years ahead.

People who leave booking until the last minute are often turned away. As mountain biking becomes more popular and trails are added in the surrounding area demand for accommodation has grown and a new area has been developed to cater for school groups.

The previous summer season ran right through until April and it's expected this one will be the same. It's the third summer since the Murrays took over the award-winning holiday park from previous owners Jack and Susan Timmer, who'd managed it for 20 years.

Originally from Rotorua, the Murrays got a taste for managing holiday parks while travelling around the South Island in a campervan.

After periods at the Blenheim and Queenstown Top 10 parks the couple set up Haast Top 10 Holiday Park. After finding themselves back in the North Island managing the Waitomo one, they decided it was a great lifestyle and looked at options for buying.

As Mr Murray said: "When you go away and then come back you really see the beauty of Rotorua."

Even with a rostered set of managers it's hard for the couple to get away.

"We spend a lot of time catching up with the family all over the North Island," Mrs Murray said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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