Glendhu Bay Lakeside Holiday Park managers Julie and Gavin Gray have been making last-minute preparations at the camp for the annual influx of summer guests, including carrying out final inspections of a new $1.76 million wastewater system which has just been completed in time for the busy period. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
The new $1.76 million wastewater system at Glendhu Bay
Lakeside Holiday Park will be put to the test on Boxing Day
as about 300 groups of holidaymakers arrive.
The final inspection of the system was carried out earlier
this week and camp managers Gavin and Julie Gray are
confident it will prove its worth over the forthcoming busy
The upgrade, which has taken about two and a-half months to
complete, provides the camping ground with its own on-site
wastewater treatment system. Previously, trucks came in to
pump out the park's holding tanks.
Mrs Gray said the wastewater system had been in "dire need"
of an upgrade, as were other camp facilities such as the
shower and toilet blocks, which were next on the list.
"It's a redevelopment basically of the whole park and this
[wastewater system] is where we start, the underground and
come up," Mrs Gray said.
The wastewater upgrade has meant the loss of 30 camping sites
this holiday period while new grass grows. Most of those
sites were typically rented to younger groups for New Year
and about 60% of those had to be turned away, so it was
likely the camping ground would be a "lot quieter" this year,
Mrs Gray said.
Although "it's not always the younger ones that cause
trouble", added Mr Gray, who doubles as security officer
during the holiday period.
The camping ground will be busy through until early February,
with three weekends booked to full capacity of between 1500
and 2000 people. About 90% of summer guests were "return
customers" who came back year after year to the same site,
many handing their annual bookings down through the
During winter, guest numbers drop to below 50 - mostly
passing tourists or skifield workers.
This is the second year the Grays have managed the camping
ground. They were assistant managers for two years before
that alongside owners Herbie and Chris Illingworth, who ran
the camp for 18 years before their lease expired and the
Queenstown Lakes District Council - which funded the
wastewater upgrade - took over last year.
"It's certainly a lifestyle choice," Mrs Gray said.
"It gets a little bit isolated and lonely over the winter, it
really does ... and then over the summer we're extremely
While people come from far and wide to experience a New
Zealand summer at Glendhu Bay, during the last two weeks of
the school holidays 70% of campers were from Wanaka.
"Because they're just down the road I suppose, and it's the
last bit of family time they're going to have for the year."
Last-minute preparations before the Boxing Day influx have
included setting up the camp shop, organising security and
inducting staff - boosted from 13 to 17 this summer to
relieve pressure on the Grays.
For Otago University student Pip Oliver, a camp staff member
for three consecutive summers, working for part of the day
and water-skiing the rest is a dream come true.
"I get a holiday and I get paid for it as well," she said.
"And I enjoy the people. It's a very social job."
Although the Grays rarely leave the camping ground, except
for the occasional trip into Wanaka, they are already
planning a well-earned trip to Fiji after the holiday crowds
have left the camp.
In the meantime, the focus is on hosting the thousands of
people who call Glendhu Bay home each summer.
"We will be flat out but ... we're really looking forward to
it," Mrs Gray said.
"It's once a year that we catch up on everybody. It's a great