Queenstown Lakes District Council has recently announced its intention to retain ownership of the land at Glendhu Bay Motor Camp.
However, there are concerns that the sale of leases for five Queenstown Lakes camping grounds to an Australian group may spell the end of the Kiwi camping experience at these sites.
Despite the council’s assurance that it will maintain ownership of the land and campers will continue to enjoy their favorite locations, uncertainty remains, according to a report Lakes Weekly.
Concerns from campers
Doug Fraser, who has been camping at Glendhu Bay Motor Camp with his family since the late 1940s, expressed his concerns when he heard rumors about the potential sale of the lease to Australian company Hampshire Property Group.
“It seemed to be more focused on what financial returns they could get out of the camps rather than maintaining the Kiwi camping experience,” he said.
Fraser’s concerns were echoed by other Glendhu Bay campers who fear the potential loss of the “Kiwi camping experience” and increased costs to campers.
Environmental impact and sustainability
Amid concerns about preserving the Kiwi camping experience, the outdoor hospitality industry has increasingly focused on promoting sustainability and minimizing environmental impact.
Campground operators worldwide are implementing measures like waste reduction, water conservation, and eco-friendly infrastructure, ensuring the longevity and preservation of the natural environment that campers enjoy.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council stated that it would not be selling the land and would retain some control over how the lease operated.
“The lease in question allows the leaseholder to operate a campground on the lease’s sites. Council has an approval role for any capital investment in new infrastructure by the leaseholder, and any proposed changes to the fees and charges onsite,” the council explained.
Trends in campground modernization and amenities
As the outdoor hospitality industry evolves, campgrounds are undergoing modernization to meet the demands of today’s campers. Many campgrounds now offer a range of amenities and services, such as upgraded restroom facilities, Wi-Fi access, and electric vehicle charging stations.
These improvements aim to enhance the camping experience while still preserving the core values of enjoying the outdoors.
Glamping and alternative camping options
Another trend in the outdoor hospitality industry is the rise of glamping, which combines the comforts of a hotel stay with the natural beauty of camping. Glamping accommodations such as luxury tents, cabins, and yurts offer a unique outdoor experience, often catering to a more upscale market.
While these options may attract a wider range of visitors, they also raise questions about maintaining traditional camping values and ensuring access for all types of campers.
The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) received the application regarding the sale of the campsite leases in late October. The OIO will not release the application until after its decision is made and will not confirm Hampshire Property Group as the proposed purchaser.
“The application is currently being assessed,” the OIO said. “We have received 13 submissions on this application. A decision is expected on this application in May/June 2023.”
Consents granted under the benefit to New Zealand pathway are subject to standard conditions and special conditions that are specific to the investment. The council has not made a formal submission to the OIO, and the owners and prospective purchasers did not wish to comment while the application was before the Overseas Investment Office.
Bruce Miller, who had also been camping at Glendhu Bay since he was an infant, said as long as the current culture of the site was maintained, he was comfortable with new ownership.
Really, as long as there are appropriate constraints on what new owners may or may not do – particularly as they’re not New Zealanders and may not necessarily fully appreciate the New Zealand camping culture – that would be the main thing I’d be looking for,” Miller said.