Campervan park tempts tourists

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Another stage in making Oamaru’s harbourside more attractive for visitors has been achieved with the opening of a small campervan and tourist park.

In February, Scott and Dee-Ann Fitzgerald opened the Penguins Nest Cafe on Marine Parade and ever since, they have been slowly developing the more than 4000 sq m property they rent from the Waitaki District Council.

To date, they have invested $350,000 in the project “with more to spend,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“We might look at other opportunities. There’s still scope to do a lot more.”

The new park has provision for 27 powered campervan sites.

“We haven’t been making much noise about it,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“We’ll see how it goes and aim to hit our straps by mid-January.”

Toilets, showers and kitchens have been installed at the back of the park and once the grass grows, there will be sites for tents. An old building on site will also be demolished.

Tourists have already stayed at the park and this was expected to pick up as word spread.

“The council have been quite positive,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“We tried to do this eight years ago on another site and hit a brick wall. They didn’t want development.

“We left town for five years and nothing was done. We knocked on the door and tried again.”

He said the park was within walking distance of the Victorian Precinct and Penguin Colony and the new children’s playground was just next door, which would make it appealing to tourists.

He believed the harbour area offered many possibilities.

“I think it’s been underestimated. If we get people staying here it will build the profile of the harbour area. Heritage is great but this (the harbour) has not been realised.

“Hopefully locals appreciate that they’ve got something down here.”