New Momorangi Bay Campground managers Helen and Wayne Foley are looking forward to their first summer season in the bay, a popular holiday spot with visitors and locals.
Managing the campground is something of a dream job for the couple.
Helen, a registered nurse at Wairau Hospital, and Wayne, a boatbuilder by trade, applied for the position about three years ago but narrowly missed out.
When they saw the Department of Conservation advertise it again early this year, they didn't hesitate to apply again.
"We honestly didn't think the position would come up again. These positions don't come up very often – the managers before the last ones were here for 15 years," Helen says.
The interview process was longer and more detailed this time, and centred around the couple's commitment to the DOC philosophy and their ability to work together.
They were thrilled when DOC offered them the position.
"It's quite flattering they thought we worked good as a team," Wayne says.
"We want the same things and we want the same outcome," Helen says.
The decision to move to Momorangi Bay was about making memories for their three children – Jack, 13, and twins Tom and Briarna, 10.
"The kids are loving it. They've been out with the dolphins, watching seals and fishing. It's an ever-changing view," Wayne says.
Christchurch residents and tourists escape city life at Momorangi Bay. Their campervans and tents line the foreshore. Everyone knows everyone else.
"We were always intrigued by it," Helen says.
"The fascinating thing about the bay is the living history, the people who have been coming here 50, 60 years," Wayne adds. "At the end of the day, we're just the new caretakers, and a lot of the campers know more about the place than us."
That history has already shown itself in the bookings the couple have had since they moved from Blenheim about three months ago.
"People will ring up and say, `I'm so-and-so's sister, cousin, grandfather, and we camp here'. It's going to take a while to know everyone's history," Helen says.
But they will have plenty of time to do so. While their initial contract is for two years, they hope to stay on for 10 years.
The couple plan to start gathering some of the history and memories of the families who stay at Momorangi Bay this summer by distributing exercise books around the campground for people to write about their time there.
"We can then compile them and make a bit of a book," Wayne says.
The campground has 135 sites, and about 1000 people are expected to stay there between Christmas and New Year.
- The Marlborough Express