And there were many day visitors at the beach, many of them coming to use the water ski access lane or go to the jumping off rock! There were also many people with kayaks and stand up paddle boards. Many of these people stayed until the evening on the warm, calm evenings we experienced this summer, and had barbeque dinners before returning to their homes.
All of these people visiting the camp and day picnic beach area has kept the LOCA camp volunteers very busy, keeping the toilets, the camp and beach areas clean and tidy, checking in campers and talking to all the visitors. For January 2015 this work amounted to over 180 hours of volunteer time. This reflects an outstanding commitment to help maintain this community asset.
The feedback from the campers has been great with many commenting to us about how beautiful the site is and about how clean and tidy the area is kept. People, both New Zealanders and overseas tourists are coming to stay here now on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family who have already visited. And there are many repeat visitors for all sorts of reasons. The LOCA volunteers can be very proud of their efforts - and the profits from the camp operations made by LOCA will be going back into conservation activities around Lake Okareka such as the esplanade strip trapping programme (see Mike Vincent's report on page 19) to help protect the dab chicks and other wetland birds and also into the new Lake Okareka walking track.
Feedback coming in from other communities is that many are extremely envious of the opportunity that Lake Okareka has taken up with working with Department of Conservation in managing this camp site and with Rotorua District Council with managing overnight parking at Boyes beach. It means that money is coming into the area from outside and is being used for the benefit of the community and the environment.
We would really welcome more local people becoming involved with helping to manage the DOC camp and also Boyes beach. There are no doubt about it times when it does get very busy, but it is also very rewarding, interesting and at times a lot of fun meeting and interacting with the visitors.
Please contact Sandra Goodwin 362 8865 if you would like to help.