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Fine weather draws full house of campers

LOUISE BERWICK AND CHE BAKER
Last updated 05:00 28/12/2012
Bill Jeffries and Ray Egerton
CHE BAKER
GOOD TIMES: Bill Jeffries and Ray Egerton, both of Invercargill, put the final pegs in their tent at Alexandra Holiday Park yesterday.

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Southern camping grounds are benefiting from the sunshine, with campsites already "humming" during the summer break.

Camping grounds and holiday parks across the region are attributing an increase in customers to the great weather, with some businesses recording a 10 per cent rise in holiday-makers.

Central Otago and Queenstown camping grounds have reported their usual strong following from regular campers and many places were expected to be completely booked out of tent sites, power sites and motels.

Alexandra Tourist Park manager Matt Fowler said only a handful of cabin rooms were expected to be left for those looking for last-minute accommodation over the new year. The park had a large number of regulars who would book for the following year as they left.

While Invercargill camping sites were not fully booked, most agreed business was up on previous years.

Beach Road Holiday Park owner Gerry Oudhoff said he was extremely pleased with the way the holiday season was shaping up.

"I've had my hands full the last couple of days."

He had experienced between a 10 and 15 per cent rise in customers this year, with the good weather luring holiday-makers outdoors.

"The beautiful weather really brought them out."

Invercargill Top 10 Holiday Park owner Philip Todd echoed Mr Oudhoff's comments, saying the season had been "very busy".

"It's very positive, everything is just sort of coming together."

While the park was not full, he said they had a lot of bookings for the month ahead and the busy trend looked set to continue into the new year.

Western Southland was not exempt from the demand, with the Colac Bay campground "chocka" for the new year.

Colac Bay Tavern and Camping Ground owner Jill Brown said the place was "buzzing" and they were having to open up extra camping sites to handle the influx of people expected for next week. It was their first year owning the business, but they were surprised by how busy it was, she said.

It was "just the normal busy season" in the Catlins, and there were lots of families enjoying the great weather, Curio Bay Camping Ground assistant manager Val Whyte said.

"It has been really, really busy."

She said the number of people was on par with last year, although the campground was fielding many more inquiries.

She had expected it to be as busy as it was, with many customers returning "year after year".

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