Kaipara’s tent city success

by Andy Bryenton

Another season of sun, fun and camping at Kai Iwi Lakes, and once again it’s been a great one. Part of this is down, of course, to the stunning natural beauty of the lakes themselves, a place where it’s very hard to feel stressed out or run down. Even more than this, it’s down to the people who have made this one of the Kaipara’s biggest ‘towns’ for a brief couple of weeks.

As visitor numbers swell the population lakeside, there are several groups active to ensure they have a relaxing and enjoyable time. The Northland Regional Council and Kaipara District Council are involved in the maintenance and governance of the lakes. Two Maori governance entities have rohe whenua (area of interest) in the area of Lake Kai Iwi — the hapu Te Roroa and the iwi Ngati Whatua. All come together to plan for this busy season, with the KDC providing the services of staff who are there as local ‘ambassadors’ as well as to provide maintenance and upkeep.

Then there are the people themselves. Our guests, mainly from far afield, many of whom return to the lakeshore year after year in a kind of human migration. The overwhelming sense this year, as in previous years, has been one of good-natured camaraderie, which one would have experienced in the old, egalitarian camping ground days of yesteryear. Despite sunburns and wayward tent pegs, sand in the sandwiches and the usual minor travails of non-glam camping, this is one of the most laid-back ‘municipalities’ in New Zealand. For a couple of golden weeks, everyone’s kids run about with super soakers and water balloons. The music is mellow and summery, and it’s never too much to ask your new neighbour under canvas for a squirt of the red sauce when your bottle bottoms out. As in prior years, there will be plenty of folks who wish they could bottle some of that feeling to last the rest of the year.

So, a salute to those who have worked hard to help us play hard out there this summer, both at Kai Iwi Lakes and beyond. At those beaches where surf life savers have kept an eye on our attempts to catch a wave, to the roads, the petrol station forecourts and the supermarkets and convenience stores where staff stayed on to help us holiday.