Camps packed for hot season

By Don Farmer, . don.farmer@age.co.nz


Camping grounds and holiday parks from Eketahuna to Martinborough have been packed this summer, despite weather blips which threatened to scare visitors away.

Holiday park managers expect business to tail off as people return to work but should be in for another rush for the upcoming Wings Over Wairarapa later in January.

Coastal South Wairarapa has been extremely busy with South Wairarapa District Council ranger Colin Olds saying visitor numbers were "unprecedented".

Freedom camping reserves at Ngawi, Tora and Te Awaiti were "packed" he said, and although some tenters left when bad weather blew in just before New Year they had returned.

Mr Olds said there had been some issues with campers bringing dogs, which were not allowed on the reserves, but the biggest problem had been the rubbish left behind: "Some people still do not get the message that all they should leave behind is a footprint."

At Lake Ferry, the holiday park had been "flat tack", said Maurice Tipoki, who runs the camp with wife Mary.

Strong northwesterly winds over New Year had blown some tents down and driven some campers away but numbers had picked up.

Mr Tipoki said he expected visitors to drift off from the middle of next week as work commitments brought their holidays to a close.

The Lake Ferry Hotel, also run by the family, had been extremely busy, with the restaurant doing more than 200 lunches on the last day of 2012.

Mr Tipoki said a thumbs up from film mogul James Cameron, who dined at the restaurant, led to some of the business generated.

Elsewhere along the coast, Castlepoint Holiday Park suffered as a result of huge winds that struck over New Year, but business was now improving.

At Riversdale, a shortage of accommodation resulted in some campers imploring Camp Anderson caretakers to open up for them. The camp had been closed for new building work but the caretakers took the overflow and opened temporary kitchens.

Deb Smith, who with husband Neil runs the camping ground in Soldiers Memorial Park, Greytown, said a few overseas visitors had booked in but the largest share of business had been families arriving for the festive season.

The camp ground had cashed in on the La De Da concert to some extent, and only now were a few sites becoming available.

Martinborough Holiday Park had enjoyed a "great New Year", said lessees Lisa and Frank Cornelissen.

Mrs Cornelissen said with the promise of better weather arriving this weekend "the phones haven't stopped ringing".

At Mawley Park, Masterton, managers Rodney and Jelena Algie have enjoyed double the number of tenters as last summer but, conversely, campervan visitors are down.

Mr Algie said overall it had been a good summer.

"We expect to be especially busy on January 9-10, when orienteering is being held, and also for Wings Over Wairarapa," he said.

Pete and Di Evans reported steady business at the Carterton Holiday Park, with "not too many gaps" throughout the camp now and good bookings in the pipeline for the remainder of the month, while in Eketahuna a revived and upgraded camping ground is steadily picking up business.

Kerry and Loreen Cunningham have been in charge in Eketahuna for the past year and are getting a good response, especially from travellers between Napier and Wellington.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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