Picking up after lockdown

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Two years of planning and hard work on a new business venture for a Kaitangata couple hit lockdown only weeks after opening.

Blair Thompson and Jonni de Malmanche opened the Kaitangata Motor Camp, on a former bowling club site opposite the Clutha River at Kaitangata at Christmas last year.

“We had really only just opened when we went into lockdown,’’ Mr Thompson said.

‘‘At the time we had four permanent guests staying so we looked after them, shut the gates to the public and continued working on our site to get things ready for when lockdown finally finished.”

But since Level 2 he said the couple had been surprised at how busy they were.

“We were initially surprised by just how many international tourists stayed put during the lockdown and have now continued on with their travel around the country.”

Mr Thompson said domestic traveller numbers were steady, bookings were increasing and so was demand for semi-permanent sites from contractors working in the district.

“We have already built three new cabins and are getting ready for the next step; a better ablutions block and three more larger cabins,” Mr Thompson said.

The managers of several other camping and motor home sites in the Clutha district said they had also experienced the ups and downs of the lockdown.

Kaka Point Camping Ground owners David and Denise Anderson said their lockdown had been very quiet.

“We only had two people here. It was very confusing right at the start as we didn’t know whether to let people stay or not, but that was soon cleared up and we locked the place up for Levels 3 and 4,” Mr Anderson said.

Mrs Anderson said winter was usually slow and they had not seen much traffic since reopening after lockdown.

‘‘We have only had a few guests in but we are more worried about what is coming up now that there are more cases flying in,” she said.

“People are moving around a lot more.

‘‘We saw a big jump in visitors to the Kaka Point/Nugget Point areas on the first weekend after Level 2 was announced, then it tapered off, down to our usual winter numbers, but we have still had a lot of inquiries about bookings for the summer season so things are OK.”

Lake Waihola Holiday Park owner Peter Michelle said they had been all right during the lockdown and were looking forward to the summer season.

“We had 11 permanent guests here during lockdown, we locked the gates and followed all the rules, gave each one a separate toilet and shower unit,’’ Mr Michelle said.

“Initially, when we reopened we started to see a lot more seasonal and hospitality workers from the lakes districts coming through to stay for a couple of nights at a time.

“It’s been quiet overall but now we are seeing inquiries for the summer season, which is reassuring.”

Mr Michelle said they had inquiries from permanent campers in Mosgiel looking for sites after it was announced the Mosgiel camping ground would close to make way for a new swimming pool.