Wet weather proves too much for some

Campers in Queenstown and Wanaka have turned their backs on the resort towns and the wet weather, which some holiday park operators have labelled the worst they have known.

Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park operator Tracey Perkins said in the six summers she and husband Patrick had been running the camp, this was the worst season she could remember in terms of weather.

It got the better of a few campers, who returned home, she said. However, most stuck it out, even through a power cut that affected most of Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Rd.

Lake Outlet Holiday Park co-owner Glenn Tattersall was waiting yesterday for the camp's internet and phone systems to be restored after they were ''fried'' in this week's electrical storm.

He agreed the wild weather was the worst ''by a country mile'' and the most extreme he could recall in the six summers he and partner Tracy Addison had been at the park.

''It's either been sensational or bloody awful. There's sort of been no in-between days.''

Lake Hawea Holiday Park co-owner Sarah Burdon was optimistic warm weather would soon arrive from Australia, ensuring a ''bumper of a summer'' by the season's end.

The biggest impact on camper numbers was from the closure of State Highway 6 from the West Coast, which had prevented the usual large influx of visitors, Mrs Burdon said.

Cabins at Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park had been full during the peak holiday period as campers in saturated tents opted to upgrade their accommodation, manager Kelly Campbell said.

However, some had ''had enough and up and left'', particularly over New Year.

Lorraine Wallis has been lessee of the Haast Beach Holiday Park for a year and a-half and said the weather yesterday was warm and humid and the sandflies were loving the tourists.

One of the main questions campers asked was: ''Is it always this wet?''To which she always replied: ''If you had come yesterday, it wouldn't have been like this, and tomorrow it's going to be fine.''

She said many of her campers had left their tents for the dry of her cabins.

Aspiring Campervan Park owner Richard Hutchison's campervan clients were not greatly affected by the weather.

Queenstown Lakes District Council holiday park general manager Greg Hartshorne said a wet 15degC Queenstown had been competing with places such as Rangiora, which were a sunny, dry 30degC.

''People will only sit in their tent, reading, for so long.''

The council owns four campgrounds in Queenstown, Arrowtown, Glendhu Bay and Wanaka and he said they were ''very international-orientated'', since most of the domestic market had ''been and gone''.

Many international tourists had already moved on, having missed out on many pre-booked activities such as jet-boating and visiting Milford Sound because of the weather.

''It's quite a pity, because I have not seen town so busy.''

Across town at the Frankton Motor Camp, owner and manager Graeme O'Rourke said only about 5% of campers had pulled the pegs up early.

The campground was ''chocker'' due to the Queenstown Recreation Ground being closed to campers this holiday period, he said.