Paul and Tania Desmond have closed Utea Park, 17km north of Waipapakauri Ramp, on 90 Mile Beach, after years of interaction with the Far North District Council over compliance issues.

The couple opened the property to guests in 2003, problems with the council beginning in 2011. Mr Desmond said yesterday that pressure from the council had "ramped up" in April, and had now reached the point where it had become intolerable.

Mediation had not succeeded, although, as requested by the council, three cabins had been removed, and more were to have been sold next week.

"Then we got fined again," he said.


"We can't win."

Far North District Council environmental services manager (acting) Jeremy Kirwan told the Northland Age that the council had not closed the park, but compliance officers had visited it on numerous occasions over the last eight years, in response to reports of buildings being illegally constructed and the site being used as an unregistered campsite.

A number of compliance notices had been issued to the Desmonds, and Horwath Trustee Services (Kaitaia), over the years.

They included a notice to fix illegal building work in 2011, a notice of closure, issued by the environmental health officer, in 2015, abatement notices for breaches of the district plan earlier this year, another notice to fix illegal building work in March this year (with compliance due by June 30), another notice to fix in July, and enforcement notices for failing to comply with abatement notices, issued on August 2.

"Unfortunately, Mr and Mrs Desmond have chosen not to comply with current legislation, have not obtained resource and building consents, and have not gained a Certificate of Camp Ground Registration," Mr Kirwan said.

"Mr Desmond has stated he has no intention of bringing the site into compliance with legislative requirements. Throughout this period the owners have run the property as a commercial campground, charging campground fees to a significant number of campers during the summer period.

"At the same time, Hukatere Park operates next door. This business is a registered camp site, and is fully compliant with environment, planning and other regulations."

Mr Desmond said yesterday that he had endeavoured to reach an agreement with the council, but had not been successful.


When he told a council officer that closure would mean tourists, particularly those walking Te Araroa, would have no access to toilets or any other facilities between the Bluff and Waipapakauri Ramp, she had told him they could "use the dunes."

"We walked way at that point," he said.

It was with heavy hearts that he and his wife were packing up to leave yesterday - with nowhere to move to - but there was more to it than losing their business and lifestyle. They had no doubt that closing the camp could potentially put some visitors' lives at risk.

"Let's just say the rescue helicopter knows where we are," Mr Desmond said, "and Far North Surf Rescue (at Ahipara) is more than an hour away. I don't think the council knows what we do here."

Waimanoni man Laurie Austen agreed, saying he was extremely concerned about the effect of closing the park in terms of "security," especially for those who walked the beach.

Meanwhile new of the closure has attracted worldwide interest on social media, one man saying he was "Gutted... You guys were amazing when I stayed. Best of luck."

"The little bit of paradise you built was always buzzing with tourists from all over the globe," another wrote.