James Green (left) and Brandon Green, of Christchurch, are staying at the Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park Creeksyde until Boxing Day before travelling up the West Coast. Photo by Christina McDonald.
Camping appears to be as popular as ever, with Otago camping
grounds reporting a busy start to the holiday season.
The influx of holidaymakers started at the weekend but
camping ground managers expect to be busy on Boxing Day, the
traditional start to summer holidays.
The new operators of the Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park are
counting down to the start of their first summer season.
Although Rudolf Sanders and Aggie Hofsteenge have had plenty
of experience managing holiday parks, this will be their
first at the Wanaka camp they manage for the Queenstown Lakes
District Council, taking over at Labour Weekend.
Ms Hofsteenge said they had not had a chance to compare this
summer's bookings with last.
''We've been so busy sorting things out I haven't even had a
The couple also manage the Glendhu Bay Lakeside Holiday Park
and Ms Hofsteenge said regulars were already setting up camp
The Lake Outlet Holiday Park, in Wanaka, beside the Clutha
River outlet, is expecting a busier-than-normal Christmas
Owner Tracy Addison said because of the way the statutory
holidays fell, more ''Kiwi families'' had booked for the five
days before Christmas.
''It seems to be people are starting their holiday that
little bit earlier.''
Lake Hawea Camping Ground and Holiday Accommodation manager
Mike King said his bookings were up by 5-10%, which he
attributed in part to the Rhythm and Alps music festival in
the Cardrona Valley at New Year.
Haast Beach Haast Beach Holiday Park lessee Lorraine Wallis
said bookings were not as good as last summer's because of
the problems with State Highway 6 between Haast and Wanaka.
Contractors are still stabilising the slip at Diana Falls
brought down by heavy rain in September and the road is
closed at night.
At the slip, it is closed from 7pm until 8am.
At Haast it closes each night at 6 and reopens at 7am, while
across at Makarora it closes at 6.30pm and reopens at 7.30am.
The highway is also being closed at other times when there
are further slips or heavy rain.
Ms Wallis expected holidaymakers to make ''last-minute
decisions'' about visiting Haast, wary of being caught on the
wrong side if there was bad weather.
In North Otago, most campsites had already been booked for
the holidays, with just a few places remaining, while the new
Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, from Mt Cook to Oamaru, is being
credited by some for attracting more people into the area
Accommodation outlets in the popular Waitaki Valley and
Waitaki Lakes all reported positive bookings.
Otematata Holiday Park and Lodge co-owner Kirsty MacLeod said
although accommodation was still available for the holiday
period, some areas were fully booked about four weeks ago.
Kurow Holiday Park owner Chum Chamberlain said bookings were
''good'', at a similar level to last year, and he agreed the
new cycle trail should help businesses.
The Omarama Top 10 Holiday Park reported ''very good''
bookings, with owner Arda Booiman saying this summer will
beat last year.
Lake Ohau Lodge co-owner Louise Neilson said the lodge had
experienced ''steady'' bookings in the run-up to the holiday.
''I think that we will be expecting that we are going to have
lots of holiday-makers in the Mackenzie Country and the Alps
2 Ocean (cycle trail) is really going to be the thing that
just starts taking off from now through the summer."
Lake Ruataniwha Holiday Park and Motels owner Kura Ritchie
said the 2500-capacity facility had been booked up for
Christmas and New Year since Labour Weekend.
On the east coast, the Moeraki Village Holiday Park is also
fully booked for the holidays.
Holiday bookings are steady in the Clutha district, with many
holiday park operators reporting a rise in bookings on a year
Lake Waihola Holiday Park operator Brent Cowles said he was
pleased with the number of bookings.
Balclutha Motor Camp managerJohn McGowan said he, too, was
happy with the number of bookings, with camper van sites the
Beaumont Hotel and Holiday Park co-operator Gunni Egilsson
said visitors often did not book. The Taieri Mouth Holiday
Park was about 90% full for the Christmas-New Year period,
manager Paula Poutu said.
Tapanui Motor Camp owner Dave Scott said the ground was fully
booked for the next two weeks.
''We're probably a little bit up this year''.
Bookings in the Catlins are also going well, with YHA Catlins
Coast and Holiday Park owner-operator Craig Perry reporting
more group bookings than usual.
Nearby Newhaven Holiday Park and Pounawea Camping Ground also
reported good bookings, with the latter full over three days
at New Year, although cabins were still available.
New Year's Eve in Queenstown looks set to be a big one,
judging by holiday park bookings.
Demand over the resort's party period has also spread to
Kingston, with Hectors camp manager Annabelle Wilson saying
despite being 40 minutes out of Queenstown, people had been
calling since October about New Year's Eve bookings.
However, Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park Creeksyde co-owner
Erna Spijkerbosch said she would ''venture to suggest that
the peak is arriving a little bit earlier''.
At the Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park, the majority of
campers would start to arrive from Boxing Day, general
manager Peter Coppens said.
Bookings were still being taken for what is called the
''Bullring'' or the youth zone, which is the land earmarked
for the proposed Queenstown convention centre.
It will operate from December 29 until January 4, primarily
concentrating on the youth market.
Arrowtown and Frankton also have special accommodation for
young people, with Arrowtown Holiday Park - which comes under
the same management agreement as the Queenstown Lakeview
Holiday Park - also having a bullring.
Frankton Motor Camp is preparing for New Year's Eve, with
staff member Shelley McLellan saying the camp would start to
''crank up'' from December 28.
''It's good but it's flat out. It's ... the calm before the
Glenorchy Camping Ground's Sue Roney said the busy period
would come after Christmas and around the start of the new
The annual Glenorchy races on January 4 was expected to cause
Central Otago camping ground owners are bracing themselves
for a ''full house'' over the Christmas and New Year break
but some say holidaymakers are leaving it until the last
minute to book while others claim freedom camping is
Co-owner of the Larchview Holiday Park at Naseby, Matthew de
said although bookings were good over Christmas and New Year
and some campers booked early, there had been an usually high
rush of last-minute bookings.
''Maybe it's the economy - people not knowing if they're
getting annual leave or not,'' he said.
There was also a higher-than-usual number of people ''just
wandering up, and not booking and that's a dangerous game to
play if you want accommodation and does make it hard for
Freedom camping appeared to be having an impact on business,
Clyde Holiday and Sporting Complex manager Lauren Direen
Stays at the camp were shorter overall and ''people seem to
be going for the cheapest option. Everyone's hurting at the
Bookings at the Alexandra Holiday Park were similar to
previous years, but instead of the influx being on December
26, it would be spread over December 26-28 this year, owner
Janice Graham said. Cromwell Top 10 Holiday Park would be
busy throughout January, co-owner John Searle said.
''The major influx will be on December 26 and 27 and at the
peak, we'll have up to 1800 people here.''
''We're happy with our bookings throughout January and I
think people have a wee bit more confidence in their jobs at
the moment, so that's why our bookings are so strong.''