CAMPING: LIMITING the amount of time campers can stay at Waiinu Beach will spoil the settlement's free and easy feeling, a resident says.
Bill Zimmerman has spent many summers at that beach, about 7km from Waitotara village, during his 70 years. Like some of the other property owners, he started his own time there as a camper.
He was unhappy with the idea of any new limits and regulations being set for the campground.
This has been suggested.
Camp custodian Santina Zimmerman asked whether the place was a freedom campground at the May 3 meeting of the Patea Community Board. She and other residents expressed the fear that the number of long-staying buses would continue to grow.
"What worries us is, last year we had one. This year we have three," her husband Mick said.
Neighbours were complaining about having a bus between them and their sea view. And the long-staying housebuses had joined themselves up to reticulated water.
He suggested a time limit of one to two months for longer term campers, as was set in other places.
His wife said one of the three buses had been in the campground since November 2004. Another joined the same site during the summer.
Despite wanting time limits on camping, Mick Zimmerman agreed with his brother Bill that the campground needed to keep its low-key, community feeling. It had the minimum of amenities: the area was mowed, and water taps, rubbish bins, fireplaces and a toilet were provided.
"We want it left like that."
Dogs were permitted, and there was a donation box rather than a collection of fees.
The donation system worked well, with most people leaving money and an appreciative note as well.
The "freedom camp" concept was agreed to by stakeholders at a meeting in the mid 1980s, Bill Zimmerman said.
In summer campers spread along the coast, with a group of windsurfers settling near Snapper Rock, "one of the best spots for windsurfing in the country".
The campground was especially busy at Easter, when motor homes gathered there before and after their rally in Wanganui's Springvale Park.
The longer term campers created their own community and worked together to curb the wild Sunday riding of trail bikes and three and four wheelers, which annoyed local people.
"The locals will not go down to the beach on a Sunday afternoon now."
With coastal property in demand, Bill Zimmerman had heard of people offering $200,000 for a Waiinu section. He hoped that wouldn't change the atmosphere.
"We can't help but get yuppies moving in here. But hell's bells, it's a beach community," he said. It was he that set up the "Waiinu Working Men's Club" in a moveable building where people gathered to drink and socialise on summer evenings.
He said two unoccupied buses close to the beach belonged to a group of Patea families who were ratepayers. They were used continuously during the summer months and their owner had said he intended to move them.
After asking for a tap closer to his campsite he had helped himself by attaching a pipe to the nearest one. The water was used by other campers as well.
He had dug the "short drop" toilet for the use of people on the beach.
The third bus belonged to Ian Rapson. The vehicle had $20,000 worth of equipment and was his home, as he had recently sold his Waverley house.
He moved the 1972 bus to the beach in October and intended to take it away again as soon as he could make its steering legal.
He said he had been coming to the beach in summer for 20 years, and spent his time collecting firewood, doing jigsaw puzzles and towing boats up and down the beach with his tractor. Having a bus as a home was good.
"I hope to tour around the country a bit."
Asked if he knew some residents didn't want long term buses on the reserve, he said: "There has always been some growling. It's only been a minority of them, I think."
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