No room at the inn as visitors fill motels
There are no motel vacancies tonight in Timaru, Temuka or Geraldine, with most guests attending the South Island Secondary School Athletics Championships in Timaru or the swap meet at the Winchester Showgrounds.
Bay Viaduct Motor Lodge manager Val Wilkinson said that as well as the events over the weekend, accommodation providers in Timaru had been busy since the South Canterbury Finance fraud trial began.
The duty motel in Timaru, Seabreeze, has no beds left for tonight.
The Winchester Motor Camp, next to the swap meet site at the showgrounds, is also booked out.
Camp manager Paula Cooper said it was the busiest weekend of the year. The 39 powered sites and about 39 unpowered sites were booked in advance.
"It is twice as busy as summer," Cooper said.
"Most people book for the following year."
For those who turned up late with no booking and were desperate, Cooper has a special place for them just behind the fenceline along State Highway 1.
"Most people stay two nights. On the whole they are clean and tidy but it's a bit of a mud bowl if it rains," she said.
John and Junette McIntyre of Rangiora are attending the swap meet for the first time this year. It's something they've wanted to come to for a while but never had time, but they are now retired.
As a classic car enthusiast, John McIntyre said he was hoping to pick up some memorabilia to add to his garage of "old stuff". He had heard the camping ground was between a state highway and railway line but he was not concerned.
"I'm 60 per cent deaf and my wife Junette wears earplugs," he said.
Junette McIntyre's friend from school, Marietta Jeeves, and her husband Philip, have been attending the swap meet for more than 20 years.
They attend about three swap meets around the South Island each year.
"It's a social weekend. About 12 other people we know from Christchurch come down," Mr McIntyre said.