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Blended families . . . Nana- Karen Handy of Rangiora loves the family time she has with her extended family at the Spencer Beach Holiday Park each year. The family are (far left) Charlie Page 11months, and from back left: Wyatt Lawson 16months, Amanda Handy of Bishopdale, Amelia Page of Woodend, Maddox Page 9months, Ollie Page 2, and Tony Page of Pegasus. In the front are (from left) Sophie Page of Pegasus, Beauden Page 2, Nana-Karen Handy of Rangiora, Ryleigh Lawson 2, and Braxton Page 4. Photos: John Cosgrove

By JOHN COSGROVE

While numbers were down again this year due to Covid, the regions camping grounds were still a home-away-from-home for many families during the Christmas-New Year break.

Nana, Karen Handy of Rangiora, loves the sense of family she finds every year when she and grandad Wayne Handy and their huge blended family all meet up at the Spencer Beach Holiday Park each year.

“This year was our first year back after a wee bit of a break from staying there over the Christmas-New Year holiday period, ” Karen says.

“Prior to that we had been coming here for 10 years. It is close to home, has everything on hand and allows our eight children to bring all the grand kids along as well.”

Camping is a great learning experience for all her grandchildren, she says.

It’s a car . . . . Jason Bastings of Woodend, helps his son Carter 8, on the design of their sand castle at Spencer Beach over the Christmas break. This was the first time the family has stayed there.

“It is a great experience for the toddlers, they have to learn to share, and to be quiet when all the babies are asleep.

“It is also a great spot to learn all about nature and living with their cousins, and it is so awesome to watch their expressions opening presents on Christmas Day,” she says.

The families were all prepared for the holiday with fridges and microwaves on hand to keep the baby food and milk on tap, while the bigger kids and adults explored the region.

“The managers here are very accommodating, allowing us to erect a fence around our large group of tents to stop all the very young children getting out,

“They are all escape artists, even the youngest ones of the seven kids here under four years of age will try to get out whenever they can.

“But it’s a great camp as there are many other large family groups camped here beside us, so all the kids have to learn how to get along and make new friends,” Karen says.

Jason Bastings of Woodend says it is his family’s first time staying at the Spencer Beach Holiday Park.

“I know we came from just up the road, but we just wanted to get away for a few days.

“We have found it very nice staying here, it’s all about families and we have also run into a few of our neighbours as well.

“There are plenty of attractions and we are not at home, plus the kids are having a blast,” he says.

For the McCracken family, also of Woodend, camping out at the Spencer Beach Holiday Park is a family tradition as dad Chris McCracken said his family have been coming here for more than 17 years.

“We always have a family Christmas get-together here. Our kids get to meet their cousins, I get to spend time with my own family and my cousins as well. We like it here because its close to home if we need something and work if I have go in, he says.