The Lake Ferry Holiday Park, a popular camping destination in South Wairarapa, New Zealand, has recently undergone a significant change.
The South Wairarapa District Council (SWDC) has taken over the operation of the park, following the sale of its assets by the former leaseholder, Mary Tipoki. However, the transition has not been without controversy.
Tipoki, who had been running the facility since 2002, claims she was subjected to years of poor treatment by SWDC staff, which ultimately led to her decision to sell. The council, on the other hand, maintains that they worked respectfully with Tipoki, and it was her actions and inactions that led to the non-renewal of her lease.
The SWDC has now appointed a new operator, Chris Wagner of KiwiCamp, who will be managing the facility for the next 12 months. The council purchased the assets from Tipoki for over NZ$300,000, with additional legal fees exceeding NZ$12,000. The capital upgrade costs will be added to the purchase price.
Tipoki alleges that she was not offered any assistance by the SWDC to bring the site up to standard. She claims that the council never offered to help her in any way, neither financially nor otherwise. The council, however, has declined to comment further on this matter, as reported by RNZ.
The SWDC has assumed responsibility for the capital costs of the necessary changes to bring the campsite up to standard. This will be loan funded, with repayments and interest covered by the revenue from the park. Central government funding has also been applied for.
The council’s Manager of Partnerships and Operations, James O’Connor, expressed gratitude for the constructive way that Tipoki engaged with the council to reach an outcome that meets the needs of both parties. He acknowledged the significant work done by the Tipoki family at the holiday park over a long period of time.
However, Tipoki has alleged unfair discrimination. She claims that the council refused to issue her a campsite license, which prevented her from selling the camp to a third party. She believes that the council deliberately got rid of her so she wouldn’t have a new lease.
The council has entered into a license agreement with KiwiCamp, tasking them with managing the day-to-day operation of the park, getting the park compliant with the camping-grounds regulations, and making improvements to the facilities available at the park.
KiwiCamp is known for producing prefabricated campground infrastructure and operates a digital platform to enhance the camping experience.
The SWDC has stated that the existing facilities at the facility were outdated and did not meet regulatory standards. To facilitate the necessary improvements, KiwiCamp will seek exemptions from parts of the camping-grounds regulations that the park currently cannot comply with.
The transition of the Lake Ferry Holiday Park’s operation from Mary Tipoki to the SWDC and KiwiCamp has been marked by controversy and disagreement. However, the new operators are determined to bring the campsite up to standard and enhance the camping experience for all visitors.