The McKee Memorial Reserve opens the gate to campers again this
Council staff and contractors alongside
It was an honour to be able to do a final walk around and
inspection ahead of the opening with Fred McKee whose family donated much of
the land that makes up the reserve the today. It is an area rich in history
from the Maori that frequented the coastline in pre-European times, to the horse
drawn cable car that was used by early European settlers to transport goods
from the beach up the bluffs.
The McKee Reserve is the only area of significant coastal native bush left between the Able Tasman National Park and Nelson and is home to an array of native birds. The bird life has recovered significantly with the efforts put in by
While Ken has not been at the reserve quite as long as the
giant Lancewood tree (150 – 200 years old) he and his partner Jan Wellington
have been the resident caretakers for almost 22 years. Waking up to a
beachfront view like they have it is easy to see why they have not been keen to
relinquish their job. However, they have decided it is time to pack up and see
more of the world, and we thank them for the many years of hard work and wish
them well for the future.
This does mean that Tasman District Council are currently
advertising for a new caretaker. If you are at all interested I would get a CV
in quick because this is one job that won’t need to be advertised twice!
It is fantastic to see that the Council has made the effort
to reopen the McKee Memorial Reserve as a camping ground in response to pleas
from the community. The budget price camp ground ($6 a night) has been a favourite
for many locals with many having generational ties to their favourite spot!
According to Ken the patronage is about 60/40 split between
locals and guests from further afield. Even young foreign tourists return home
and send their parents back to Ruby Bay to stay at McKee. Ken assures me that
when the parents show up and ask him if he remembers their children who stayed
some years earlier he always responds “yes of course, they looked a lot like
you … only younger!” Not a bad memory given that Ken collects $130,000 worth of
$6 fees a year!
If you are planning to stay at the McKee Memorial Reserve
this summer it will pay to book in early as the camp site is still a work in
progress and the storm damage has reduced the number of sites available. Down
from the previous 250 people a night to 150 for the opening, staff will be
monitoring the reserve to see what capacity can be comfortably accommodated in
Download a copy of the Fred McKee brochure and learn more fascinating facts about the reserve