Every summer, thousands of Kiwis dust off their tents,
fill the car with camping gear and seek out the perfect
holiday location. For the Greaves family, of Christchurch,
and their friends, Moeraki is the ideal spot. They risked
exposing their secret to tell Rosie Manins why.
Ray Greaves (31) has spent most summers camping at the
Moeraki Village Holiday Park since he was about 5 years old.
His father was taken to the camping ground as a child by his
parents, and so Mr Greaves was a third-generation camper and
his children among the fourth generation.
Every year for about two weeks during the Christmas holidays
the Greaves family set up a tent village at the camping
ground, where they were joined by families of friends.
Moeraki catered to every need while retaining its small
community charm, Mr Greaves said.
Children could safely wander from the camping ground to the
beach without crossing a busy road, ride their bicycles
around the village, fish from the wharf and entertain
themselves at the local playground.
Dolphins, seals and penguins were easily found around the
coast, ensuring city folk a healthy brush with nature.
The camping ground also allowed dogs.
And, of course, Moeraki boasted excellent fishing.
''It's just the feel of it, a small community feel - a bit
more knitted together. It's safe bringing kids here and
there's plenty to do,'' Mr Greaves said.
His wife, Charlotte, could not think of one thing a Moeraki
''It's a home away from home. It's kind of ideal ... pretty
damn close to perfect I think,'' she said.
''You see the kids when they're hungry and it's great. You
don't have to worry.''
This year, Mr and Mrs Greaves were joined by each of their
parents, Mrs Greaves' aunts and uncles, family friends
Margaret and Gary Brand, and some of the family's neighbours
Their dogs, Willow and Moose, were also on holiday, along
with 12-week-old German short-haired pointer Carson.
''Willow is about to have pups so she may be having them here
at the camping ground if we don't get home in time. The
ability to bring your dogs is a big drawcard because not many
camping grounds allow that,'' Mr Greaves said.
His family enjoyed going on walks, trips to the Moeraki
boulders, fishing charters and jaunts to Oamaru or Dunedin if
the weather packed it in.
But most of their time was spent relaxing in the sun, making
the most of being in a relatively unpopulated and quiet area.
''Some camping grounds have hundreds of people, which can be
a bit much. This is a nice size and has a great feel about
it,'' Mr Greaves said.
When the fishing charters started, he stopped bringing his
own boat down from Christchurch, to save the hassle.
The charters, and subsequently smaller number of vessels in
the water, had helped replenish the crayfish and paua stocks,
Blue cod, perch and groper were most commonly caught and
served up for lunch or dinner.
''As a kid, I used to go down to the boat ramp and there
would be people waiting in line to launch their boats. There
would be 40 or 50 boats in the whole time.
''Now, everyone sticks to the gentlemen's number of 25,
although I think 30 is the limit,'' Mr Greaves said.
Moeraki's camping ground had always been full and bookings
were essential, he said.
Over the years, the owners had kept improving amenities,
which were always immaculate, Mrs Greaves said.
The Moeraki village itself had escaped over-development,
although Mr Greaves had seen the establishment of Fleur's
Place and the opening of the local watering hole.
''It's been the source of some great friendships. We see
familiar faces each year but also new ones, as well,'' he
''But, of course, you can't print any of this. We don't want
anyone to know how good it is,'' Mrs Brand chimed in.
Catch me if you can ... Cousins (from left) Ciara
Kennedy (10), of Sydney, Hannah Bond (10), of Oamaru, and
Michaela Kennedy (7), of Sydney frolic in the Moeraki waves.
Idyllic ... Christchurch couple Charlotte and Ray Greaves
(left) relax with friends Gary and Margaret Brand, also of
Christchurch, at their favourite holiday spot in Moeraki.
PHOTOS: GERARD O'BRIEN
Unspoiled ... Moeraki's small size attracts holiday-makers
from the city, keen for some peace and quiet.
Child's play ... Archie Wood (4), of Christchurch, is
entertained by Carson, a 12-week-old German short-haired
pointer, at the Moeraki Village Holiday Park.
Rods at the ready ... Siblings Laura (14) and Hamish (10)
Masters, of Christchurch, try their luck fishing off the
Dog days of summer ... Christchurch pets Moose (left) and
Willow make the most of being taken camping at Moeraki Beach.
Sunbather ... A seal soaks up the sun on the beach.