A tourism campaign daring people to visit Dargaville with a focus on the Kaipara District's Kai Iwi lakes has coincided with up to 100 people per day being turned away from the popular tourist attraction.

Kai Iwi Lakes assistant camp ground manager Leanne Howells says "it's been mental".

"Since starting here 13 years ago this has by far been the busiest season that I can ever recall, just this morning I received 30 emails requesting bookings."

Howells says they are so busy they're having to turn people away.

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"I've got people trying to book for next year and then the year after and I'm having to tell them that bookings for next year don't even open until July 1."

The tourism campaign was launched a month ago by the Dargaville Community Development Board and a promotional video about the lakes has already had over 17,000 views on Facebook alone.

However development board enterprise development manager Lorraine Davidson says she doubts the Visit Dargaville – We Dare You campaign has made that much of an impact so soon.

"That may be going a bit far, as our campaign only started in December, most people may have made their plans before this time. Guess that's a potential survey to determine the reason for this."

"However for the past three years the board has been promoting Dargaville and its local environment via the newspaper and I am confident that this has improved Dargaville's profile and the visit Dargaville campaign is a targeted follow up to this.

"Our objective is to challenge potential visitors to consider Dargaville as a worthy destination with many geographical attractions and outdoor activities to be experienced," said Davidson.

The Visit Dargaville – We Dare You campaign will run until May and is designed to heighten the awareness of Dargaville and its surrounding environment such as the river and harbour, beach, lakes and Trouson Park.

The campaign tells the stories of a family, a mature couple and a young couple who are visiting Dargaville to experience all the area has to offer, for both residents and visitors alike via short YouTube video clips that have been posted to their visit Dargaville Facebook page.

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The video shoot depicts some of the typical activities and attractions that may appeal to these lifestyle demographics.

Rare dune lakes Open Day

Residents and visitors are being invited to discover as well as learn how to protect the rare Kai Iwi dune lakes at an open day tomorrow.

The galaxias inanga is a species of whitebait found at the Kai Iwi Lakes. People are encouraged to learn more about the lakes at tomorrow's open day. Photo/Supplied
The galaxias inanga is a species of whitebait found at the Kai Iwi Lakes. People are encouraged to learn more about the lakes at tomorrow's open day. Photo/Supplied

Freshwater community conservation education programme Whitebait Connection is hosting the event, now in its seventh year.

Regional co-ordinator Isabel Krauss says the purpose of the day is to connect people with the lakes and to learn that, "apart from being a fantastic camping spot, it is also a very special and fragile ecosystem".

Dune lakes are solely fed by rain water and don't have a natural outlet, like a river that flows to the sea, so everything that goes into the lakes, stays there.

Krauss said these factors meant the lakes' native species are very sensitive to pollution and the introduction of invasive species.

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The Kai Iwi Lakes are known to be home to a range of native species, like the dune lake galaxias inanga (a species of whitebait) as well as freshwater crayfish and native bullies.

"This is why we also promote Check, Clean, Dry on the day, a campaign that Northland Regional Council will run through an information stall.

"It is very important that people check, clean and dry their equipment when moving between different waterways. This will stop the further spread of invasive species and freshwater weeds which could have a huge effect on these lakes."

As well as educational, the day aims to be fun for all the family with activities on and off the water.

Activities include guided snorkel practice, learning how to paddle with a waka ama team or simply hang out and enjoy the many activities and displays on offer on land as well as competitions and prizes.

Thanks to Kaipara District Council and the support of many local businesses and organisations, the open day also gives people an insight into the rare biodiversity and cultural treasures found in dune lakes - they are a truly special place!

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The Kai Iwi Lakes Open Day is held on Auckland/Northland Anniversary weekend on January 26 - make a day of it or book a campsite at Kai Iwi Lakes campground from 10.30am-3.30pm.

Free circus classes

A group of about 11 children aged from 8 to 14 have attended free circus workshops for the past week.

Running away with the circus became a reality for a group of kids who attended free circus classes in Dargaville recently.
Running away with the circus became a reality for a group of kids who attended free circus classes in Dargaville recently.

Student Khloe Dixon said: "I love it, I think the circus classes are fun and more kids should come along."

The classes were held at the Dargaville Primary School hall and a range of skills were taught and developed from hula hooping to juggling, diablo and acrobatics.

■ Email Rose — if you have news that you would like to share with Northern Advocate readers. Rose.stirling@gmail.com.