New tech revives a family favourite

22:51, Dec 20 2012

A popular Waitaki holiday spot has been revived with the help of the community and Facebook.

Brent Cowles and Kirsty McLeod have taken over the lease of the Otematata Holiday Park, which had been closed for several months.

"We saw that it was boarded up, and made a passing comment to the local land agent if she'd had much interest in the camp," Mr Cowles said.

"Two weeks later we had negotiated a deal, I had resigned from work as a computer shop manager in Dunedin and, three weeks later, we were here."

Mr Cowles said they moved to the site about three months ago, and had worked 12 to 18 hours a day to bring it up to standard, including painting, renovating and cleaning and upgrading the pool.

"Over the last 10 or so years, it had gone into neglect. I'm Timaru born and bred, our family used to holiday here. We really wanted to bring it back to its former glory," he said.


"The last people bought it for property development. It had gone backwards for several years. They had lost a number of large bookings for groups. We've got a lot of them back," he said.

The pair launched a Facebook page for the site two months ago: within a day, it had more than 300 "likes". The number has now exceeded 1100.

"People have given us new beds for the lodge at cost price, a lawnmower, a washing machine, and a fridge, someone gave us some old chairs from the Dunedin Town Hall. Several people have worked on the site for free," Mr Cowles said.

"We want to bring back the traditional family camping experience."

The campground has 50 powered sites, 18 lodge rooms, and room for several tent sites. It has its official opening this weekend.

"We're 90 per cent full for New Year's Eve, that's all due to Facebook. It's been so good to have everyone working as one," he said.

The Timaru Herald