The Department of Conservation (DOC) Papatowai campground in the Catlins re-opened on 19 December, receiving its first visitors and some interested locals. DOC Coastal Otago staff have been working around the clock getting the site ready for the summer holidays.
The campsite had been in much need of a makeover and now has a revamped toilet and kitchen block, and upgraded waste water treatment system. Five more toilets, including a disabled toilet, have been installed to bring the site up to standard. The campground was previously privately managed but was closed several years ago due to the sub-standard sewage system.
“The campsite has been developed to provide a back to basic, classic Kiwi camping experience” said Bill Wheeler, Coastal Otago Visitor Assets Programme Manager. “The major highlight of improvements is the new state of the art sewage system. The system can be remotely monitored and adjusted, and can cope better with the high usage the site has traditionally experienced during the summer. The outflow is extremely clean and could be recycled to flush the loos if required.”
The campground will be maintained as a standard DOC campsite and is designed for the self-sufficient camper. There is no hot water or electricity on site - so no hot showers. However, it provides the basic facilities many visitors to the Catlins seek - somewhere safe to park up for the night, toilets and a covered cooking area. Campers will need to bring their own cooking equipment and fuel. The barbeque site will also be restored in time. A newly installed self-registration booth enables visitors to pay the fee of $6 per site per night.
The campsite is located behind the gas station and shop on the main highway. It is surrounded by native bush and a short track from the campground provides access to Tahakopa Bay.