'Unfair' Kaiteriteri Motor Camp rules bring end to 23-year family tradition
A move to enforce booking rules at the popular Kaiteriteri Motor Camp could spell an end to decades-long holiday traditions for some families.
Nelson's Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve board has asked the motor camp to adhere to its longstanding "priority re-book" policy.
The policy allows people who have booked the same site for the same dates for at least five successive years priority to re-book for the following year.
During the peak summer period, an estimated 95 per cent of guests fall into the "priority re-book" category.
Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve chief executive David Ross said flexibility around the policy had "crept in" over the years.
This had seen some people who didn't qualify as priority customers allowed to re-book their preferred site each year.
This summer, the board had asked the camp ground to be consistent in its application of the policy, Ross said.
Motor camp manager Den Petch said the rule had been in place for many years, but wasn't always adhered to.
"You've got to have the same site, exact same dates and for five years. If you've got that, you've got a re-book status."
He said the policy helped to avoid issues with large numbers of people turning up at the camp on the same day.
"We'd have queues right down the road if everyone came in on a Saturday."
The move has seen some families, who have enjoyed holidaying at Kaiteriteri for decades, lose their priority status.
People like Annette McKenzie, of Wakefield, who has stayed at the motor camp on the same days for 23 years, have now been told that they don't qualify for "priority re-book".
"I just think it's unfair. After 23 years, how can you not be classed as a loyal customer?" she said.
"We won't be returning and I can name a lot that are thinking about the same thing who have been going for years."
McKenzie, 57, said she had been camping at Kaiteriteri since she was 17. She and her husband started bringing their youngest son when he was just three months old.
She said the motor camp was "alienating" loyal customers, and she would be holidaying over in Pohara in Golden Bay next summer.
Ross said, under the Reserves Act, the board's directive was to safeguard Kaiteriteri Reserve for the enjoyment of New Zealand families.
"We want to be open to as many people as possible. There are so many who can't get in here because, I guess, to a degree it's locked up by families."
Petch said the same site, same dates re-book policy was "industry standard" in New Zealand.
Some campgrounds, like Totaranui in Abel Tasman National Park and Momorangi in the Marlborough Sounds, had scrapped re-booking altogether.
Last summer, the board stopped the "priority re-book" policy for new people, but have allowed existing priority customers to continue.
Petch said he "absolutely" sympathised with McKenzie and others in her situation.
"They've still got a chance of actually getting back in."
People like McKenzie were able to apply for a site in May on a "first in, first served" basis.
However, with 95 per cent of the motor camp already taken by "priority re-book" customers, there will be strong demand for the limited remaining sites.