Holidaymakers clamour for Manawatu beaches
Campgrounds in Manawatu are starting to reap the benefits of a national shortage, Destination Manawatu chief executive Lance Bickford says.
Some campgrounds in the region are fully booked over Christmas, New Year and some well into January and February.
Totara Reserve Camp caretaker Kelly Williams said powered sites in the Pohangina Valley had been so popular that Horizons Regional Council were contemplating setting up more in the hope of clearing a waiting list that had ballooned to ten names long.
At Himatangi Beach Holiday Park co-owner Margaret Penney said they were booked out over Christmas and the so-called "second wave" of campers in mid-January had been strong.
"We're always busy over summer but I think the fact that we won that award [AA Spirit of Hospitality top holiday park] again this year has brought in a new lot of people again," Mrs Penney said.
"We're looking really good."
Mr Bickford said some smart marketing had been done in recent years to try to turn Manawatu a more attractive area for campers.
Momentum for the region as a camping destination was now beginning to build particularly in the Pohangina Valley, he said.
"It's great to be able to really showcase a different side of the region. A lot of people think we're just flat land and anything we can do to show that we are not that is great.
"It's getting to the point now where it's about making sure we don't kill the golden goose."
The loss of several beachside campsites around New Zealand in recent years had played into Manawatu's hands, he said.
"Camping grounds beside the sea are being sold off to developers and there's less and less of them. We've largely kept ours and with people turning to more natural forms of holidaying, they're searching for things like what we have to offer."
Despite the at-times variable October weather there were 200 people staying at Himatangi Beach Holiday park over Labour Weekend. Among them were trail-bikers including Lindsay "Aussie" Richards, his family and their neighbours.
The clan have been coming to the Himatangi Beach Holiday Park for at least five years to cruise the sands, and Labour Weekend was their first ride of the season.
Mr Richards, who is the mayor of the holiday park for the 2013-14 season, said it was a special place to come.
"The idea of a camping ground, it's great for kids and this park has a fantastic atmosphere."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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