Campgrounds booming at Taranaki holiday spots3 min read
Julian and Shelly Harkness, owners of Opunake Beach Kiwi Holiday Park, say they are having a very busy summer.
The ever looming threat of Covid has done nothing to take the appeal off camping with Taranaki holiday parks busier than ever in the first weeks of 2022.
At Opunake Beach Kiwi Holiday Park, owners Julian and Shelly Harkness are fully booked for campsites and cabins until January 16.
Summer is always the most popular time, and the last two years have been very busy, Julian Harkness said.
Because of its outdoor setting, camping was thought of a safer option for people wary of Covid, he said.
Like other holiday parks, the Opunake campsite had safety guidelines in place but no vaccination mandate for campers, 30 per cent of whom were aged under 12 and therefore not eligible yet.
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“We are acting on what the Government has advised,” Harkness said.
“People understand that being outside in the fresh air is the place to be if you’re worried about Covid.”
Most campers planned ahead for their next holiday when it came time to leave.
“We get 90 per cent of our sites rebooked as they walk out.
“We get two or three families coming, then it goes up to six or seven families when friends come and visit and decide to come and stay next year.”
The good weather had also made a difference, he said.
Taranaki’s first two weeks of the new year have been notable for a run of hot, clear days, albeit often windy.
Stephanie Hoy from Upper Hutt, who spent a week at Opunake with her husband Richard Quinn and their three children said it was their time at the campground, and they had loved it.
“The camping ground was great, and the beach is incredibly safe.”
At Oakura Beach Holiday Park the good weather had helped keep sites full.
“We are as busy as ever,” manager Ryan Ditchfield said.
The popular beachside campground has never had much trouble filling up, with generations of families coming back every year.
But Ditchfield said the last two years had been busier than ever with more people discovering the holiday park.
“Last year was busy, and that was busier than the year before. It’s just getting busier and busier. I do think lockdowns were making people a bit stir crazy. But the weather has helped and more and more people just want to get out and experience camping.”
In New Plymouth, at the Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park, things had finally slowed down slightly after a busy start to the New Year.
“We’ve been really busy for the concert in the weekend. That was awesome – we were really full. It’s a bit quieter now, but we’ve got a couple of big weekends coming up,” owner Anna Crawford said.
The summer camping season traditionally winds down when schools restart. This year most schools are returning the week beginning January 31.