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Camp camping: The beginner's guide to Vinegar Hill

Sat 20 Nov 2004 In: Events

What is Vinegar Hill? Definition 1: A native bush reserve campsite located in a bow of the Rangitikei river. Definition 2: One of the most prominent and long-running glbt Christmas/New Year gatherings in the country, attracting 200 or more happy LGBT campers. Where is it? About two and a half hours drive north on State Highway 1 from Wellington or about six hours south from Aucland. On a map look for the town of Hunterville (a.k.a. Hooterville) on State Highway 1 to the west of Fielding. Slide your finger up the map just a tad and you'll find Vinegar Hill at the start of a winding road that cuts east from SH1 to Fielding. Is it easy to get to? Yes! It's just 1km from SH1, the signposting on SHI is bold and clear. Follow the sealed side road across the big bridge and then turn right onto the gravel road entrance to the reserve. As you come out into the open grassy camping area you're in the straights and general campers area. The traditional glbt area is to your extreme left, look for dykes with children and crates of Speights, poofs with landscaped front yards and tacky outdoor furniture. When does it go off? Most campers arrive on Boxing day or the day after and head away a day or two after New Years' Day. Do I need to book? No, just turn up, there's plenty of room, first in first served. Site fee of $5 is collected more or less daily. What facilities are available? Clean basic toilets, cold water, rustic cold shower, grass, gravel road, river for swimming, native bush for walking. What facilities are not available? Electricity, hot water, food supplies. But if you crave a hot shower the motel in Hooterville makes one available to campers for a couple of dollars a go. Every day at least one carload of folks heads in to Hooterville for supplies of some kind and the Hooterville general store owners come down most mornings with grocery supplies, cold drinks, etc. for sale. Can I take my pet? No, not allowed. Is it a cool place to be? Yep! The atmosphere very relaxed, with swimming in river (massive flooding earlier this year has been repaired. New Year's Eve is the highlight with a hastily assembled show of amateur frolics... bonfire, bad drag, choosing of Miss Vinegar Hill, danceparty atmosphere with soundsystem and bar. Some years there has been a slight problem with drunk country hicks speeding through in a car yelling insults but they've been seen off and the police and responsible locals are very supportive of their glbt visitors. Best thing about it? It's very relaxing, away from everything in the company of very friendly glbt folk for a week or so. Worst thing about it? On a rainy day (and there are often one or two of those) it can be the second most boring place in the country if you're not used to making your own amusements. (Editor's note: If you're a regular to any of the other LGBT summer holiday gathering places around the country, such as Uretiti, please get in touch with us using the feedback button below so we can prepare a useful guide to YOUR favourite summercamp!) Jay Bennie - 20th November 2004    

Credit: Jay Bennie

First published: Saturday, 20th November 2004 - 12:00pm

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