Waters beckon after long seclusion

Solo kayaker Neco Wieringa (25) appeared to have the lake to all to himself on Lake Wanaka...
Solo kayaker Neco Wieringa (25) appeared to have the lake to all to himself on Lake Wanaka yesterday; (insets) Oamaru Fishing Charters owner Neville Scholes on his vessel Willerie; Invercargill residents Jackie Quang and son Jackson Quang (1) play in the sand on Oreti Beach yesterday. PHOTOS: KERRIE WATERWORTH/DANIEL BIRCHFIELD/ABBEY PALMER

Boat and beach lovers have been enjoying an element of normality this week as restrictions on recreational activities were eased.

The owner of an Oamaru-based fishing charter business said many people were keen to drop a line, and had taken the chance to do just that.

That was clear to Oamaru Fishing Charters owner Neville Scholes, who counted 47 boat trailers parked up between the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and the western side of the North Otago Yacht and Power Boat Club in Waterfront Rd at the weekend.

He said the vast majority of those boat owners spent time on the water trying to hook fish, which showed there was a thirst for the pastime after the easing of Covid-19 lockdown to Alert Level 2.

However, that had not helped Mr Scholes or his business, which takes groups of 10 on fishing excursions off the Oamaru coast on the vessel, Willerie.

‘‘Once it went to Level 2, we all thought ‘neat, we'll be able to go fishing', but, they've put the government hogwash on it, saying a maximum of 10.

‘‘I'm affected by it for the simple reason that now, because I have a crew of two, we can only take eight passengers, so it makes it dearer for the passengers. Basically, that's it. We just can't do anything about it whatsoever.''

He had fielded inquiries, but said it was not viable to book fewer than 10 people, and he did not want to risk prosecution if he broke social distancing or the single-figure total number of people rules.

‘‘We're better off not to do it,’’ Mr Scholes said.

He expected business to pick up post-lockdown, but for now he was staying on dry land.

Mr Scholes, who founded the business in 2016 having hosted charters since 1975, said he had ‘‘not been to sea at all'' during the lockdown period.

It was a similar story in other parts of the South - in Wanaka a Paddle Wanaka staff member said business was starting to pick up as tourists were arriving from Christchurch and some had stayed in Wanaka.

In Southland a few people visited Oreti Beach, including the Quang family. Mum Jackie said it was their first visit since lockdown restrictions lifted.

Others included families and elderly folk, either sitting in their cars enjoying the view, or walking by the shoreline.



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