Camping grounds brace for holiday rush

'You can only fit so many in'

JENNA LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012
Nieveen sisters
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ

SUMMER DAYS: Dutch tourists the Nieveen sisters – from left, Carlijn, 12 , Marleen, 9, and Roos, 5 – dig the thermal fun at Hot Water Beach on Coromandel Peninsula.

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Waikato people are shrugging off the economic blues with a beach holiday and some of the region's holiday-town accommodation providers are reporting the best bookings for years.

And, if you haven't booked your festive getaway yet, it may be too late as campgrounds in Whangamata, Whitianga, Waihi and Raglan are either fully booked, or close to it, from Christmas through to the first week of January.

It comes after a soggy summer last year and a slow start to December.

Whangamata Motor Camp manager Ann Brien said bookings were looking good.

"You can only fit so many in," she said.

Most campground owners noted a slow December with very few "random walk-in customers" as compared with previous years.

But Mercury Bay Holiday Park owner Helena Stratford said that, although the seasons bookings started off slow, the Whitianga campground was looking pretty full to the brim from here on in.

"Our bookings for January are the strongest we've seen since we've been here," she said.

Raglan Palm Beach Motel owner Sheryl Rangiawha said they still had a few places left to snap up in the new year, but they were looking "fairly busy" all summer.

"We're just hoping for good weather because that always keeps people happy," she said.

And as the final days of work for the year roll around, many of you will be packing up the car with tents, togs and towels to head off on the ultimate Kiwi summer vacation, with little time to worry about where to go - so the Waikato Times has done your research for you to work out the best bang for your accommodation buck.

If you are looking to camp, a quick trip over the hill to Raglan is an obvious choice (and $100 cheaper a week than most sites on the Coromandel) but, if Waihi is your favourite spot, we have got some bad news - it will sting you at least $180 more to camp there for a week.

Of course if you want to head off the beaten track with ultimate access to the beautiful Coromandel surrounds then Department of Conservation campsites are always an option coming in at a bargain $30 a night for a family of four.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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