Tahuna Beach Holiday Park general manager Marcel Fekkes with the 1937 visitor book, and a photo from the 1960s taken outside the same reception building that still stands today. Photo: Kate Russell.

Tahuna still a favourite holiday spot 90 years on

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The very first comment in Tahuna Beach Holiday Park’s visitor book dates back to 1937 and sums up quite accurately why it has remained so popular ever since.

“An ideal situation for all requirements, the best in New Zealand,” wrote N. Pattle from Ashburton on December 6, 1937.

Many visitors later, the holiday park is now getting ready to celebrate 90 years – but it needs your help to bring the memories alive.

A national competition, called ‘Collective Holiday Memories’ was launched via a website last month and allows people to submit photos and short stories of both the holiday park and beach.

$8000 worth of prizes will be up for grabs for the best stories and photos submitted.

Kerry Sunderland, project manager for the competition, says they welcome nonfiction (personal/memoir/historical) and fiction stories, based on or inspired by people’s holiday memories at Tahuna Beach or the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park – formerly called the Tahuna Beach Motor Camp.

“We are hoping to uncover a range of funny, original, heartfelt and quirky holiday memories – whether they are expressed in words or images,” she says. “We’d also love to see some poems submitted.”

She says she is already delighted with the response to the competition. “It’s only early days, but we’ve received some really great photos and fabulous stories so far.”

The holiday park’s history dates back to 1926, when The Tahuna Sands Association first took over responsibility for development of the site. After building changing sheds, a playground and a kiosk, locals and holidaymakers started enjoying the site and the motor camp officially opened in November 1937.

Today the holiday park, which occupies 22 hectares, attracts about 2500 during its peak season and it is also home to a permanent village population who live in relocatable houses and motor homes.

To coincide with the call for contributions of photos and stories, the holiday park is also running a sculpture competition, and is putting out a call for all New Zealand-based sculptors to enter a Tahuna Beach Nature Sculpture Walk. A commemorative book and new interpretative heritage panels throughout the park are also in the pipeline.

There are four great prize packages up for grabs, including: best story, best photo, and two people’s choice awards, in which the public will vote.

For more details and to submit your memories, visit www.collectiveholidaymemories.nz. Entries close October 31.