Campers flock to Ash­hurst

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

Curly though the Manawatu sum­mer has been, it hasn’t de­terred com­mit­ted campers.

And there was no way the weather was go­ing to keep Karen and Peter Tim­per­ley from cel­e­brat­ing their 30th an­niver­sary at Ash­hurst Do­main.

That’s 30 years the John­sonville cou­ple have been pitch­ing their car­a­van and tents on the piece of ground ad­ja­cent to the Ash­hurst ceme­tery.

‘‘At least the neigh­bours are quiet,’’ Karen joked.

Also re­ferred to as ‘ Camp Mother’, Karen ad­mit­ted it may have be­come a lit­tle noisy as some 20 peo­ple joined them for the 30th.

‘‘They used to bring their ba­bies here, and now those ba­bies are bring­ing their ba­bies.’’

The Tim­per­leys still bring their ‘ba­bies’ along, Mitch a 16-year-old spaniel and Max an 8-year-old bi­jon poo­dle.

‘‘We’ve al­ways had dogs, and we came here be­cause you could bring your dogs... It wasn’t ex­pen­sive then, and it’s not ex­pen­sive now.’’

The camp­ing ground re­lies on an hon­esty box, just $7.50 a night per per­son for an un­pow­ered site, and $10 for pow­ered.

‘‘We’ve had a lot of fun here over the years, and peo­ple get to know you,’’ Karen said.

The cou­ple al­ways turned up on Christmas Day and stayed un­til they’d had enough. They liked the ca­sual re­laxed ‘old style’ camp­ground at­mos­phere.

A for­mer wharfie, Peter used to com­mute to work in Welling­ton, leav­ing his fam­ily camp­ing.

‘‘You’re close to ev­ery­thing here. Palmy is a short dis­tance away - Napier... When we get here, we don’t want to leave.’’

The do­main has been over­seen by grounds­man Ken Pratt for more than 30 years, as­sisted for the last decade by Kev Smith.

‘‘We don’t op­er­ate like a con­ven­tional camp­ing ground,’’ Smith said. ’’It’s quite a ca­sual sort of setup, well used by lo­cals and vis­i­tors, and gets quite busy.’’

Sev­eral of the reg­u­lar campers are from Palmer­ston North.

The city coun­cil’s Brian Way backs up busy. There has been a 143 per cent increase in Ash­hurst Do­main camper num­bers over the last six years, which in­cludes a 25 per cent increase in 2016 over the 2015 num­bers.

‘‘And we don’t even do a very good job of pro­mot­ing it,’’ Way said.

‘‘It’s an­other one of our Palmer­ston North se­crets.’’

DAVID UN­WIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

30 years hol­i­day­ing at Ash­hurst Do­main, Peter and Karen Tem­per­ley from John­sonville with Mitch the spaniel and Max the per­form­ing bi­jon poo­dle.

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