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"When we first got here, you could look at the lake and you could see two roofs and that was it."
Fifty years later, the lake can still be seen, but there are a few more houses in the way. Back then, no-one had any idea the township or the rest of the district would develop into what it was today, Mr Cotter said.
"It’s incredible when you think about it, but I guess it didn’t happen overnight. There have been spurts here and there, but it has really taken off with families looking for an affordable place to live.
"He’s seen plenty of development since he arrived and what were once ‘‘a couple of paddocks’’ have been divided up to form what is a vibrant community today.
"I used to know everyone in Lake Hawea and all the kids at the school, I knew them by name, but now I hardly know anyone.
"But we’ve still got a great community out here. Not long ago, we had a community meeting and more than 100 people showed up. You would hardly see that sort of turnout in Wanaka or Queenstown."
What attracted people to Lake Hawea now was the same thing that attracted the couple 50 years ago.
"We were looking for a nice place to raise our kids and it turned out to be a fantastic place to raise kids.
"And still is."
The Cotters also played a part in the growth of tourism in the town. In 1969 they took over the lease of the Lake Hawea camping ground and developed the land.
"At the time we didn’t know if anyone would come.
"But in the end it turned out to be a pretty good money-spinner, both for us and the rest of the community, bringing people into the town every year."