Caravanning still fun after 51 summers

Russell Samson says good company and beautiful scenery have drawn him back to the Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park for 51 summers. Photo by Margot Taylor
Russell Samson says good company and beautiful scenery have drawn him back to the Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park for 51 summers. Photo by Margot Taylor

The buildings have changed and the caravan needs a lick of paint but camping in Wanaka for 51 (non-consecutive) summers has always been a "great time'', a Dunedin man says.

Russell Samson has been camping at the Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park since he was 11.

"I can remember my dad hired a caravan and borrowed his friend's car to tow it and we got up here and liked it so he then bought a 25ft caravan and we kept coming back every summer.''

Mr Samson recalled "long hot days'' spent on Lake Wanaka with friends made at the holiday park.

"We taught lots of our kids' friends to water-ski. We used to give them a chocolate fish as a reward.''

He said the holiday park had been "like a second home'' to four generations of his family.

"We watched our wee kids grow up here and now they are coming back as adults with their kids. It has always been a great time here.''

His grandson Harlen Hamilton (22 months) was the newest family member to visit.

"He is not old enough to water-ski yet but when he is I hope he will be out enjoying the lake like I did.''

The family's white and yellow caravan had been a permanent fixture at the front of the park since 1978.

"This is our site. I must have paid for it by now. It is the best spot because it is easy for people to find us. You just say through the camp, behind the caretaker's house and we are just there, every summer.''

Mr Samson there had only been a few times the family had not stayed at the park.

"We went to Australia so we missed one year. And we went to Nelson one year but we came back through here.

"I still like it here the best though. It just draws you back and even though we have done some things here hundreds of times, it is still good.''

Asked if he would ever stop visiting the holiday park, Mr Samson said: "Yeah, when I die.''

margot.taylor@odt.co.nz

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