OIO gives green light to Australian company's lease of camping grounds

7:37 pm on 26 June 2023
Glendhu Bay Motor Camp

Queenstown Lakes District Council said it intended to retain ownership of the land at Glendhu Bay Motor Camp. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The leases to Queenstown Lakes camping grounds have been sold to Australian company Hampshire Holiday Parks.

The company operates 29 camping grounds around Australia. It was granted permission to buy the leases by the Overseas Investment Office on 10 June.

Hampshire would now own and operate the leases for camp grounds at Albert Town, Arrowtown, Glendhu Bay, Queenstown and Wānaka.

Long-time Glendhu Bay campers had raised concerns about the sale, fearing the loss of the Kiwi camping experience.

Glendhu Bay Motor Camp

Glendhu Bay Motor Camp is located just outside of Wānaka. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

But the Overseas Investment Office said the sale would likely benefit Aotearoa.

"The main benefits to New Zealand are economic benefits as the investment is likely to result in creation of jobs; in increase in occupancy rates as a result of the additional capacity and improved quality of the facilities; and in greater efficiency in operating the holidays parks and a better experience for the campers as a result of the use of technologies," a summary of the OIO's decision said.

"The investment is also likely to advance government's tourism policy and likely to result in more sustainable and eco-friendly operations of the holiday parks.

"The application has attracted public interest and a number of third-party submissions particularly with regard to Glendhu Bay Motor Camp.

"The decision-makers imposed a condition requiring the applicant to conduct a public meeting about Glendhu Bay Motor Camp to discuss its operation to the campers. The decision-makers also conditioned the applicant not to substantially alter the operations of Glendhu Bay Motor Camp."

Long-time Glendhu Bay camper Doug Fraser said he had hoped the OIO would reject the sale of the lease at Glendhu Bay, just outside of Wānaka.

The Glendhu Bay land, near Wānaka, was gifted to the council by the Scaife family a century ago for affordable camping.

"We'd hope it wouldn't go through for Glendhu Bay obviously, but now that it has at least there's some conditions and we'll just see how that plays out," Fraser said.

"Whether the QLDC will protect our interests there, that's going to be the big issue. I've still got my suspicions, I must say."

Fraser had been camping at Glendhu Bay Motor Camp with his family since the late 1940s.

From what he had read of the OIO's decision, it appeared development of the site was coming, which was his greatest fear.

"The question is whether the QLDC will support the Kiwi camping experience at Glendhu Bay, given that they have a vested interest in maximising the return on their investment there," Fraser said.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council moved to allay concerns about the sale last month, saying it would not be selling the land and retained some control over how the lease operated.

"The lease in question allows the leaseholder to operate a campground on the lease's sites. Council has an approval role for any capital investment in new infrastructure by the leaseholder, and any proposed changes to the fees and charges onsite," the council said.

"QLDC does not have any input on the prospective owner. The current leaseholder is allowed to assign the lease to another company. However, council does have some ability to conduct due diligence over the new leaseholder and to ensure the company is in a financially stable position to take on the lease."

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