Strait conqueror's big plans for little town

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013

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Wairarapa

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Perry Cameron made his name by swimming Cook Strait. Now he has ambitious plans to turn a small Strait-side township into a bigger dot on the map.

He wants to double the size of Lake Ferry, perched on the edge of Cook Strait in South Wairarapa - a place he has been "smitten" with for the past 25 years.

The Featherston businessman, now 72, became the first person to swim the Strait from south to north back in 1972.

Now he is selling the first 14 lots of a five-hectare subdivision that could eventually total 32 lots and almost double the town's size.

At present, he says, there are about 35 homes in the township, which includes a pub and a campground but few permanent residents.

It's a place he reckons deserves better recognition from people in Wellington, just a two-hour drive away.

"There's a marvellous old pub . . . and the heavy surf breaks on the shore, there are views across to Kaikoura over Cook Strait, and Wellington's just around the corner."

He admits it has an "almost spiritual" significance for him personally, given his history with the Strait.

"They're going to toss my ashes off a Cook Strait ferry when I cark it," he says.

Lake Ferry Hotel owner and campground manager Maurice Tipoki said a few older permanent residents were "a bit negative" about the possibility of an influx of new residents.

"But I'm all for it - if it hits the jackpot, it would be good for our district."

Permanent resident Bruce Murray, 66, said selling the lots could prove difficult, as property sales in Lake Ferry were slow. But he was in favour of the project if it attracted residents.

"The more permanents the better - it's these weekend warriors who just utilise the area and disappear that I don't like."

The lots are between 1000 square metres and 1200 sqm and cost $94,000 on average.

They were put on the market in late September and since then five expressions of interest had been received, Mr Cameron said.

The site would be levelled and replanted with lawn grass when the central roading and driveways were put in, after the first lots were sold.

A covenant excludes permanent camping or caravan use on the sites, because the aim was quality accommodation, he said.

The town has its own council-run sewerage system, which Mr Cameron said was designed to support up to 200 dwellings, and residents rely on bores or rainwater for drinking water.

He rejected any suggestion that the town's tranquillity would be compromised, because the lots were spacious and spread out, he said.

The council said the Lake Ferry district contained about 50 homes, and it appeared the township's infrastructure could handle the proposed development.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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