Wakatipu locals fear ruin of public reserve

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Neighbours are furious over little-known plans to build a privately-run mega-camping ground at Queenstown’s scenic 12 Mile Delta. 

Department of Conservation is preparing to lease six hectares of the popular public lakeside reserve to a Wanaka couple for 48 years. 

Both parties would expand the 36-site DoC-run campground to possibly cater for 650 people. Nearby residents have concerns over traffic safety, especially in winter, flooding, sewerage, noise pollution and environmental im-
pacts at the site near Queenstown. 

“There’s going to be another 300 campervans on the Glenorchy Road, going in and out of here,” Closeburn’s Andrew Yeo says. 

“It’s already a high risk for crashes.” 

Yeo says 17 vehicles ended up in the ditch last winter. 

Resident Geoff Wilson says: “They’ll arrive with their poo-tanks and want drainage facilities. 

“That is a shingle flood-zone, we’re going to have giardia in the creek.” 

Wilson and Yeo commend DoC for spending half a million dollars tidying up the unkempt delta last year, including a sealed access road. 

But they now feel DoC was just preparing the ground for the mega-camp. 

Wilson: “That’s what I’m worried about, that it’s a done deal.” 

Longtime neighbour Sue Farry says noise is “a real concern” because it echoes in the Bob’s Cove/Closeburn area. 

She’s also seen the delta flood several times: “Unless they’ve got closed toilet containers, sewerage issues are a concern.” 

Farry – who operates an exclusive lodge – says the delta is “a fragile ecological environment”, popular with locals and visitors. 

“When you go to the beach, do you want to go where there’s 600 people at a campground?” 

Ewen Rendel, another Closeburn resident, comments: “I was surprised and the general community is very surprised about the size that is being proposed and we were surprised that it was going to be privatised.” 

Grant McMaster, manager of the exclusive Closeburn Station subdivision overlooking the delta, is also critical but applauds DoC’s work that’s lessened the fire risk. 

“We thought it would be good for the old Kiwi camping ground, but it seems to have grown another bloody leg. We’re not so keen on a great big trailer park-type thing.” 

Wanaka’s Glenn Tattersall, whom DoC’s leasing the camp to, says the 650 figure is “theoretical” and would only apply at peak periods. 

“If the campground is able to have X amount of people that couldn’t be in the area before, that brings a direct economic benefit to everyone.” 

DoC’s plans are about “getting the Kiwi camping opportunity back in the Wakatipu, because it disappeared”, Tattersall says. 

“We’re creating a really natural camping environment.” 

DoC local community relations pro­gramme manager John Roberts says people have till April 4 to comment on the plans. 

The proposed 650 capacity is “one of the things the public might choose to comment on”.
“That number’s not fixed.” 

Roberts says DoC’s upgrade was quite separate from its campground plans. 

Meanwhile, Queenstown Lakes District Council holiday parks manager Greg Hartshorne doubts the 12 Mile camp would be economically viable as it’s too far out of town. 

“The minute you move out of town, people become one-nighters.”