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Summer Camping: Vinegar Hill

Fri 5 Dec 2003 In: Events

The Camp holiday camp for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people is just off SH1 near Hunterville, says the reigning Queen Calum of Vinegar Hill in his Christmas message. We would like to invite Our many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender subjects to join US once again for the traditional riverside gathering at Vinegar Hill in the lower North Island. It's a charming sheltered campsite at the Putai Ngahere Reserve, on the banks of the Rangitikei River, with GLBT holidaymakers arriving around Boxing Day and heading away shortly after New Year. People from all parts of the country, young, old, and everyone in between, come to Vinegar Hill to relax, take time out, and enjoy themselves... it's a good time to recharge the batteries before heading back into the world of straightdom. Things happen spontaneously at Vinegar Hill. In good weather, people organise instant groups to float down the river on a variety of inflatable objects. They swim in the swimming hole, sunbathe on the beach beside the river, take a stroll through the camp and surrounding bush, or they get some exercise, throwing Frisbees, or playing ball games- softball, cricket, touch rugby, petanque, etc. At night, there are glow-worms on the track down into the reserve, with some people making time to have a look or just plunging into the bush for some privacy. Others take the opportunity to meet neighbours, making new friends over a few drinks. Occasionally it rains, making other opportunities available- shopping trips for those little necessities, such as food, refreshments for the night ahead, and of course, decorations for your campsite. All manner of things are used as decorations- from pink plastic flamingos within white picket fences to mirror balls or whatever your imagination can dream up (or your car hold). There are prizes for the best decorated site, so people do make that extra effort. The Cheltenham dairy makes daily deliveries (except alcohol), or you can take a trip into Hunterville, where you can get almost anything. It saves carrying your favourite tipple all the way from home. While there is a toilet block with cold showers available at the campsite (bring your own toilet paper), it's best to bring a solar shower if you want hot showers. Alternatively, the Motel in Hunterville is usually happy to make one of the units available to use the shower, at a nominal charge. There has been trouble with dogs in the past. Several incidents last year resulted in Mr Policeman being called, and a couple of cases required veterinary care. For this reason We, as Queen, would request that all owners keep their dogs, or any pet that attends, under control at all times. A leash, chain, or rope should suffice. It's also requested that those who do bring dogs, camp at the north end of the campsite, not letting their pets stray down past the division in the road near where the campfire is, and that they clean up after their pets. It is not very nice walking around during the party and having your foot slip on something you would rather not have been there. Signs will be made reminding people of these basic courtesies. As New Years Eve approaches, more and more people arrive, so if you want a good site, it's best to be there a little earlier. Entertainment is organised by the reigning Queen (and this year that is I) for the nights of the 30th and 31st of December. The first night's entertainment usually has best buns and best boobs competitions with prizes being awarded in each case. Sometimes wearable art competitions are organised as well. On New Year's Eve, a big party is planned, with your Queen organising volunteers to perform- drag, opera, or whatever you want to do. Sound systems and a stage made available by people who attend the camp regularly are put to use to provide entertainment. Before midnight, the prizes are announced. These often include best decorations and best lighting. In the past there have also been prizes for best use of technology. Then there is the Miss Hospitality award, which goes to the person, male or female, (or maybe both) who has been most… er... "hospitable". And of course, the crowning of the New Queen takes place. The Queen is elected by a committee of former Queens, on the basis of service to the camp. The Old Queen is defrocked, the crown prized from their head, and the regalia are then prepared for the next recipient. The name is read out, the New Queen announced, and amidst cheers, gasps and showered with verbal blessings they are dressed in the Robes of Office, the staff handed to them, and the Crown placed upon their head. Then it's on with the party … One must not forget to mention the Queen's Progress on New Year's Day, usually at a time when people are able to withstand the light of day. During this, the newly crowned Queen, along with others from their site will make the rounds to show the Queen to their adoring subjects, and give the subjects time to salute the queen in the traditional one eyed manner. The Vinegar Hill experience is whatever you make of it. If you expect it to have all the comforts of home - or at least a 4 star motel, then perhaps you are looking in the wrong place. But if you want to have a good time, meeting people, visiting strange and out of the way places, trying new experiences, trying new things, then you will have a good time. Did We say good time? We mean a fabulous time. - 5th December 2003    


First published: Friday, 5th December 2003 - 12:00pm

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