Campers are a-comin’

Kaikoura Star - - FRONT PAGE -

‘‘Bring it on’’ is the mes­sage from Kaik­oura Coastal camp­ground man­age­ment as they pre­pare for the peak Christ­mas hol­i­day sea­son.

An es­ti­mated 2000 peo­ple will camp, boat, fish and, with any luck, soak up the sun at Kaik­oura’s coastal camp­grounds dur­ing the 10 days sur­round­ing Christ­mas and New Year’s Eve.

Kaik­oura’s many camp­ing spots of­fer a slice of coastal life over the sum­mer which is not easy to find else­where in the South Is­land.

And the fam­ily camp­ing hol­i­day is alive and well, and af­ford­able, Kaik­oura Coastal Camp­grounds man­ager Liz Ma­honey said.

Ma­honey, over­seer of Goose Bay, Boat Har­bour, Paia Point and Omihi camp­grounds, said there has been an in­crease in the num­ber of fam­i­lies spend­ing their Christ­mas hol­i­days here in re­cent years. ‘‘Our sea­son re­ally be­gins De­cem­ber 24th,’’ she said.

‘‘I would say there has been an in­crease in fam­i­lies spend­ing that hol­i­day pe­riod with us. It’s a busy time of year and many peo­ple have been com­ing here for years.

Peketa Beach Hol­i­day Park – Kaik­oura’s only beach­front hol­i­day park – is also pre­par­ing for the peak sea­son, and man­ager Digby Parkin is wel­com­ing the sea­sonal in­flux.

Parkin said the ca­pac­ity of the four main camp­ing grounds would com­pete with the mo­tels for the sheer amount of business brought into the area.

‘‘Camps don’t get a lot of credit for their ben­e­fit to the area.

‘‘They (campers) bring a lot but they can’t bring ev­ery­thing.

‘‘We have a li­cence for almost 1500 peo­ple here. I haven’t counted but I’d say we have heaps more ca­pac­ity than mo­tels,’’ he said.

He be­lieves the ben­e­fit to the com­mu­nity from camp­ing grounds is huge, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the fees col­lected for us­ing boat ramps along the coast.

‘‘The amount of boats that go out – they’re pay­ing $5 or $10 a day to use the ramps, that’s all coun­cil rev­enue.’’

But he takes ex­cep­tion to free­dom campers who are en­cour­aged to use their camp­ing fees on other tourism ac­tiv­i­ties.

‘‘We’re not anti-free­dom camp­ing. But they come in here us­ing our fa­cil­i­ties, sneak­ing in here and abus­ing us,’’ he said.

‘‘If they use my toi­let I’m pay­ing, and then my rates are used again when they camp at Jimmy Arm­ers.’’

The coun­cil say they don’t en­cour­age free­dom camp­ing but they don’t dis­cour­age it ei­ther. There is no by­law.

‘‘ They [ the coun­cil] seem to want to pro­mote cruise ships but I don’t see a lot of pro­mo­tion of camp­ing grounds.’’

Parkin was happy that the kids were swim­ing in the Kahutara river la­goon, and that it was clean and flow­ing at this time of year too.

‘‘Some kids came in the other day and they’d been swimming in the river and I asked if they were sup­posed to be swimming there. There’s an aw­ful lot of lo­cals and vis­i­tors use it, so I’m pleased it’s OK,’’ he said.

‘‘Let’s hope the sun shines and the peo­ple come. Bring it on.’’

Free­dom camp­ing: Trav­ellers can park overnight at a few pic­turesque spots on the coast north of Kaik­oura, in­clud­ing here at Maunga­manu, which most res­i­dents find per­fectly ac­cept­able.

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