Campers in Northland fled their beachside holidays in droves on Wednesday, ahead of a big tropical storm, but at Opunake, camping veteran Olwyn Duthie is staying put.
Duthie has been holidaying at the South Taranaki coastal spot since she was a youngster.
For the past 32 years she and her husband Kevin, and their family, which now includes grandchildren, have swapped their farm at Mangatoki for three weeks at the beach every January.
In that time, they’ve only ever admitted defeat once and gone home a couple of days early, after torrential rain flooded the campsite, soaking all their bedding and gear.
There is some bad weather most years, Duthie said.
“You see people packing up, with the wind howling through here, you see gazebos flying.
“If you want to buy camping equipment, come down here immediately after a storm and see what brands have survived.”
This week’s threatening weather comes just a day after Duthie and her granddaughter Freya Gibson, 5, arrived at their regular campsite and set up camp, ahead of the rest of the family who will arrive from Friday.
A subtropical storm brought heavy rain and strong winds to much of the North Island on Wednesday, with Northland, the Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Tasman placed under a heavy rain warning by Metservice, while Auckland had a strong wind warning.
Opunake Beach Holiday Park lessee Shelly Harkness said she had only one cancellation on Wednesday, from a family in the Waikato.
It was likely Taranaki would miss the worst of the storm, and the campground was sheltered between a bay and a towering cliff.
Duthie’s family campsite includes a caravan she inherited from her late parents on one end of a large, carport-sized gazebo, with a big enclosed motor sport trailer that doubles as a bedroom, at the other end.
The home-away-from home has grown over the years – the gazebo was added 18 years ago, and she sewed canvas sides for it – while camping – to make it more weatherproof.
They have a full-sized fridge, and two old sofas, which were being thrown away, have become the beach furniture.
Like many farming families, the camping ground is close enough to home for someone to go and milk the cows or get their hay in, and for family members who are back at work, to come for the weekends.
“It’s my family tradition… my four children have grown up in Opunake every summer, since they were born,” Duthie said.
“Next week, there will be 10 of us.”
Duthie was not concerned about the weather forecast, although she would tie her gazebo down with ropes and big pegs if the wind was too rough.
Generally, they just ride it out.
“In my real life, I’m a full-time volunteer with different organisations, as well as the farm, consequently this is my time-out. Don’t give me an appointment today, I will not come,” she said.
Meanwhile, the adverse weather forecast has seen the King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard concert at the Bowl of Brooklands on Friday shifted to the TSB Stadium, with all other details staying the same.
And the Urenui Boat Club’s OMV Open Classic fishing comp was postponed from Wednesday to Saturday, with organisers to decide on Friday afternoon if it will go ahead.