Campers heading home from GLBTI campgrounds
Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By GayNZ.com Daily News staff - 2nd January 2017
Some campers are beginning to head away from the two main summer holiday camping areas which have been host to hundreds of GLBTIpeople in the Manavatu and Northland.
Traditionally the Vinegar Hill and Uretiti Department of Conservation campgrounds see an influx of campers after Christmas day and a thinning out inn the days after New Year's Eve and this year is no exception, although some campers are remaining for another week or more.
At Vinegar Hill campground on the banks of the Manawatu River near Hunterville a wide range of organised entertainments have been presided over by the outgoing Queen of Vinegar Hill, Iria Pene. Bingo, Fashion in the Field, a Queen's Cocktail Party and a New Year's Eve Boogie Wonderland party have all been held. A men's vs women's team softball match was convincingly won by the women's team.
There have been no reports of misbehaviour, which has been occasionally an issue with drunken locals entering the camp in some past years to jeer at the GLBTI campers who make up around one third of those in the camp. As usual many campsites have been decorated in camp motifs which this year included a chandelier of illuminated flamingos. Prizes were awarded for best lighting, flagpole and campsite.
On New Year's Eve a new Queen of Vinegar Hill was crowned, he is Andrew Fletcher of New Plymouth, chosen to acknowledge his services to the camp as part of the medical team in the first aid tent. It will be Fletcher's job to over see preparations for next year's gathering.
The weather at Vinegar Hill has been largely fine with the river in a good state for swimming. However, a number of campers are voicing concerns at the poor level of maintenance of the campground roads in recent years which has seen deep ruts appearing in a number of areas and dust becoming an issue. At Uretiti changeable, humid and at times damp weather have been a feature of this year's holiday camping.
New Year's Eve at Uretiti, a beach-side camp just south of Whangarei, was a colourful affair with over two hundred of the estimated 300-plus GLBTI campers gathering from early evening at the Daddy's Bar socialising area.
“We had a classic car parade at 5pm,” says long-time camper Steve Farrow and a few guys costumed up with wigs. As the sun set strobe lighting and music started pumping and we had a great night which wound up at about 1am.” Farrow says quite a number of straight campers joined in the GLBTI NYE celebrations and there were no behaviour problems.
Most years a large bonfire is lit on the beach to the south of the camp but this years that was not possible due to fire regulations