Idyllic camping spot has many fans

Devotees of Burton Creek say this holiday haunt has it all - including the cherry on the top. Lynda van Kempen take a look a this popular "peaceful", "idyllic" spot with "perfect weather".

Just 2.5 km from Clyde, this camping, swimming, fishing and picnic spot is on the shores of Lake Dunstan, and it lives up to its location on Fruitgrowers Rd.

Cherry and plum trees, seedlings from earlier orchards in the area, are laden with ripening fruit, just a stone's throw from the camping place.

The place is popular with visitors and locals, and it's rapidly becoming a favourite of mobile home owners. Self-contained mobile homes are permitted to camp at Burton Creek for up to three consecutive nights and there are usually several in residence.

Across the lake from State Highway 8, the site boasts expansive views and the barren hills provide a stark contrast to the teal-blue water. Groups of mature trees are dotted around the area and provide much-needed shade and shelter from the heat this time of year, plus magnificent splashes of colour during autumn.

Ask the visitors what the attraction is, and the same words crop up again and again - "peaceful","idyllic" and "perfect weather."

Taupo residents Ann and Bruce Watson are regulars, and stay for at least one night at Burton Creek during their annual trips to the South Island.

"It's so peaceful beside the lake. You've got the trees here, and the grass - it's the whole ambience of the place; it's just got it all, " Mrs Watson said.

"I guess, because we're from Taupo, we enjoy staying by lakes where we can, and there's not many places you can be right on the lake edge."

The couple are experienced travellers, having spent almost two years on the road after they first bought their mobile home.

They say there are always other mobile homes at Burton Creek and it feels a "safe" place to camp.

Mr Watson, a retired pharmacist, usually brings his fishing rod along, although to date, the fish have won the battle.

Fine weather is pretty much guaranteed, and that's another bonus of the site, they say.

"We've been here in autumn, as well as in summer, and it was just as appealing in autumn, with all the golden colours, " Mrs Watson said.

They heard about Burton Creek through the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association and are happy to recommend it to others.

Dunedin couple Olga and Richard Kitchingman need no convincing about the site's attractions.

Like the Watsons, they prefer to stay away from traditional camping grounds - "too many people all around you," Mrs Kitchingman says.

Retired for 17 years, the couple have travelled all over New Zealand in their motor home and say Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country are hard to beat.

"There's always settled weather here and we like the peace and quiet, " Mrs Kitchingman said.

They have stayed overnight at Burton Creek numerous times, usually on the way to or from Wanaka.

"We have a couple of days rest here before we go on again. It's just lovely here; look at it," Mrs Kitchingman says.

As well as more relaxing pastimes, like reading, they also enjoy hiking around the area.

"Probably we'd have a couple of walks a day up the hills. There's all sorts of tracks around here. One or two are very steep - like Mount Everest, so you need a bit of a rest after that," she said.

The trees provide great shade, a must when the temperature hits 30degC and above.

"When it gets too hot, we just shift the van under a tree and then move it out again later, to make sure the solar panel charges up the battery."

The camping site is flat and being right beside the lake appeals, as there's usually a bit of a breeze off the water, the couple say.

Their miniature pinscher Toby is also a fan of the place.

"He doesn't like to miss out ... As soon as he sees us packing up the van, he gets inside, to make sure we don't leave him behind."

Burton Creek is also popular with picnickers, swimmers, boaties, and water sports enthusiasts.

The Holmes family, of Dunedin, are regular users of the Burton Creek boat ramp and are adamant the area is the best boating place on Lake Dunstan. Sally and Andrew Holmes say it's an ideal place to bring their daughters Lydia (10) and Madeleine (13).

Another group of holidaymakers, the Campbell family, of Auckland, were equally complimentary about the swimming inlet, at the end of Fruitgrowers Rd, next to the Dunstan Arm Rowing Club headquarters, just a short walk from the Burton Creek camp site.

Motorised boats are banned from the sheltered inlet, which is surrounded by a beach. It also has a pontoon, anchored in deeper water, which acts as a magnet for more proficient swimmers.

Just down the road, right beside the dam, on the Burton Creek side, keen angler Bruce Smith, of Alexandra, was reeling in a salmon or two.

"Probably, you shouldn't say this is a good fishing spot; they're supposed to remain a closely guarded secret," he said.

"It is unusual for me to have this spot to myself though. When the salmon are running, in November and December, there's usually fishermen 10-deep here."


Burton Creek

• 2.5km from Clyde
• On the shores of Lake Dunstan
• Camping permitted by self-contained mobile homes only
• Maximum of three consecutive nights' stay
• Has public toilets, boat ramps and swimming inlet
• Described as "peaceful and idyllic" by campers
• Good boating and fishing spot