Fergus profile photo.

“Holiday Parks have come a long way over the last 10 years. They have changed dramatically from what were commonly known as camping grounds or motor camps to what are now sophisticated holiday parks providing quality accommodation for both international and domestic visitors.

Most holiday parks are privately operated, they may be leased from Council or DOC, or they may be freehold. There are still a number of parks which are owned and operated by Councils and these range from smaller parks through to New Zealand’s larger parks such as Tahuna Beach Kiwi Holiday Park in Nelson and Kennedy Park Resort in Napier.

There are a few urban myths about holiday parks, one being that they are all being sold off for residential or other developments. This is not the case, with the number of parks in New Zealand being static over the past ten years. We have 410 commercial holiday parks in New Zealand ranging from those that can hold over 3,000 guests per night down to small parks in the regions which may cater for 200 guests.

Holiday park guest nights have increased from around 6.6 million visitors in 2008 to 8.2 million in the year ended May 2018. This is an outstanding growth rate and shows that the sector is continuing to attract a wide range of guests. We are very well known for providing the iconic kiwi holiday and around 66 percent of our visitors are Kiwis holidaymakers. The other 34 percent of our guests are international visitors looking for an authentic New Zealand experience and these visitors come from a wide range of countries. The largest proportions come from Europe including the UK, Germany and a number of other Western European countries. We welcome lots of Australian visitors and we get good numbers from North America. We are now seeing growth in guests from markets such as China, Southeast Asia and most recently South America.

International visitors choosing holiday parks are either travelling in campervans or motorhomes with an increasing number travelling in rental cars and using our cabin or apartment style accommodation. Kiwi visitors may bring their own tent, caravan, motorhome or use our built accommodation.

Holiday park inbuilt pool.

Another urban myth is that our visitors are not big spenders. This is far from true in both the case of international and kiwi visitors. On average international visitors staying in holiday parks spend $180 per day with domestic visitors spending $87 per day. While staying at holiday parks, guests contribute over $1 billion in direct expenditure to local communities. Approximately $612 million (60 percent) of the expenditure is from domestic travellers with the balance of $405 million (40 percent) spent by international travellers.

The biggest challenge that the sector has is seasonality. To address this, many parks have chosen to increase the amount of built accommodation that they offer. These may be basic cabins with guests using the communal facilities ranging right through to luxury apartments. Other innovations include the development of conference facilities and family facilities such as swimming pools and kids activities. An excellent example of this is the new swimming pool and swim up café at Lake Taupo Holiday Resort.

We have challenges as well, and we are most concerned with the proliferation of freedom camping in urban areas close to many of our holiday parks. Over the summer months, our parks constantly have to deal with non-guests sneaking into parks to use showers, toilets and kitchen facilities. It is good to see the Minister of Tourism is addressing this issue within the establishment of his Responsible Camping Working Group. There is a need to concentrate on long-term solutions and to take a national approach to the issues around freedom camping. As a sector, we fully support the principle of user pays. There is no such thing as free camping; someone pays whether it is DOC, local ratepayers, taxpayers or the environment.”

Fergus Brown

Chief Executive

Holiday Accommodation Parks Association of New Zealand