Owner invests in holiday park's future

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 13:00 27/12/2013
Bob Perriam
Fairfax NZ
BOB PERRIAM: The future of the business is to provide self-contained accommodation because people don't want to be tenting in the winter.

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The opening of a new $300,000 waste treatment plant at Golden Bay Holiday Park in Tukurua is a sign of commitment to the long-term says its owner.

Bob Perriam, the Central Otago businessman who owns the park, bought it with a partner in 2003 and intends to throw a party at the camp on Sunday to celebrate both his decade of ownership and the camp's 50 years of operation.

It would be a routine milestone were it not for the norovirus outbreak of four years ago that resulted in hundreds of campers became ill with vomiting and diarrhoea. It attracted plenty of bad publicity and resulted in Mr Perriam closing the camp for several months in 2010.

At the time, he said he was seriously considering closing the camp for good and redeveloping the six hectare beachfront site.

A series of meetings with campers convinced him that the park was viable as a campground and he reopened it on Labour weekend that year.

This winter the new wastewater treatment plant was installed.

The Oasis plant installed by Robert Cox of Environmental Waste Water discharges the treated water into a soakage field and Mr Perriam said the water was "cleaner than from any council-operated wastewater schemes".

He stressed that the new plant was not in response to any concern that the previous treatment plant was connected to the norovirus outbreak.

At the time of the outbreak, dye testing of the camp's internal effluent system had cleared the campground of any fault.

But the wastewater treatment system's consent for a discharge permit had since expired and over the previous decade, standards had risen, meaning the old plant would not have gained another consent, Mr Perriam said.

Health authorities never determined the cause of the outbreak, and speculated that it may have come from an already-infected camper spreading the virus.

Mr Perriam is looking forward to the camp again being filled over the peak season of summer, and said the highlight of owning the camp was to see summer regulars enjoying their holidays there.

He has built a memorial track alongside Tukurua Stream for one of those regulars, Brian Taylor, who had been "an absolute stalwart of the camp", bringing a large group of friends and family every summer.

Mr Taylor died in the Christchurch earthquake. He was the managing director at the King's Education language school in the CTV building, which collapsed.

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In another sign of his ongoing commitment to the camp, Mr Perriam said that work would begin in the "near future" on more beachfront luxury units. The camp has two of the five-star two-bedroom units, and Mr Perriam said he had consent to build up to 12, which was a way to make the park more sustainable by extending its season.

"The future of the business is to provide self-contained accommodation because people don't want to be tenting in the winter," he said.

The anniversary celebration is being held at the camp at 5pm on Sunday, with many of the regular campers in attendance as well as the farmer who originally opened the camp.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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