Tahuna Beach Holiday Park being washed away

AT RISK?: An aerial view of the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park.
AT RISK?: An aerial view of the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park.

Tahuna Beach Holiday Park won't exist if the Nelson City Council does not help fund erosion protection, says the camp's manager, Ann Cumpstone.

Tahunanui Beach, regarded as a Nelson icon, has suffered fresh erosion from summer storms. The Back Beach is now further exposed, but the council is taking a hands-off approach.

The popular holiday park is on council-owned land which is leased by Tahuna Beach Camp Inc. It has nearly 1000 camp sites, and is described as the largest camp in the southern hemisphere.

Cumpstone said: "We have spent $250,000 of our money protecting this land for the people of Nelson, probably against the council's wishes. We know they have a 'managed retreat' approach. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place."

Council communications manager Angela Ricker said without a change to the council's managed-retreat policy it had no budget or long-term strategy regarding the holiday park land.

It was the Tahuna Holiday Park's choice to construct the wall, which, with the council's approval, it was entitled to do.

Cumpstone said the holiday park lost 28 sites 15 years ago.

"They fell into the sea. That was a pretty big loss of income. If we waited around and tried to negotiate we were going to lose another 14 if we didn't act. We spent around $150,000 two years ago. It's just ongoing and we have to patch it up."

The damage wasn't just from storms. Big, heavy, old tree stumps, dumped on the beach at the back of the golf club, floated off and smashed into the camp's protective rock wall, she said.

"I firmly believe we are one day going to be the front beach. It would be nice to get some kind of help . . . Ideally, I would like the council to help us with funding the rock walls to continue to protect this land or there will not be a holiday park. There will not be Parkers Rd. Is that what they want to happen?"

The sea was coming through at the western end and through to the BMX area.

"It used to go out and around, now it goes right in. We cannot afford to spend any more, we cannot protect ourselves any more."

The camp has an income of $2.3 million and had a $31,000 surplus last year.

Nelson deputy mayor Paul Matheson, who lives in Tahunanui, said trying to mitigate the Back Beach erosion with rock walls would be "an engineer's nightmare". Most people now accepted that, he said.Fairfax NZ

The Press