Alf is delighted this morning to find humbug alive and thriving in the Coromandel.
It was a gorgeous place, once, until the holiday-makers and property developers moved in and many of the most beautiful beaches quickly were converted into something resembling Auckland suburbia.
Now – the NZ Herald is telling us today – the buggers who live in the houses that have spoiled the Coromandel are complaining about a bloody icecream stall.
The hypocrisy is delicious.
Residents and holidaymakers near the remote and unspoiled Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula are appalled an icecream stall is operating there under a licence granted by the Department of Conservation.
And they say other hawkers are carrying in chillybins and selling soft drinks there without permission.
Don’t you just love it?
But wait. There’s more irony in the story.
The cove’s crystal waters and famous arch are accessible only by boat or a half-hour trek, the Herald points out.
The cove gained international renown after featuring in the 100 per cent Pure New Zealand tourism campaign.
So what has happened as a consequence of it winning this accolade?
…tourists are once again flocking to the site by kayak and on foot.
But hordes of tourists flocking to the beauty spot are one thing, apparently. Ice-cream stalls are another.
Some residents of Hahei, east of Whitianga, say the icecream business has tainted the untouched paradise and set a precedent for further stalls on Coromandel’s coast.
Peter Hawley, who has a 40-year association with Hahei and the cove, says guests of his bed-and-breakfast business have complained about the development.
“Guests said everything about the place looked as it would a thousand years ago, except someone was selling ice creams.”
Actually, the whole of the Coromandel would have looked as it was a thousand years ago if only the people had stayed away.
But now settlements like Hahei – and the tourist accommodation that goes with it – can be found up and down the coast. Actually, you’ve got to look real hard to find a bit of unspoiled coast.
The Herald goes on to tell us that DoC initially issued the icecream licence for a seven-week trial period, pending approval from the Thames Coromandel District Council.
A public meeting early next year will give people a chance to respond to the developments in and around the cove.
But residents feel the icecream stall should not have been allowed in the first place. They also told the Herald the shop is already operating, without council permission.
“It is astonishing and shocking that DoC would not only grant a licence … but would do so without any consultation with the community that loves and protects the place,” said Mr Hawley.
Holiday homeowner Mary Varnham said approval for the stall had “opened the floodgates”, with imitators selling drinks from chillybins they had walked in with.
“This is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful coastal areas and landscapes of New Zealand. In all our years of visiting Cathedral Cove, we have never once heard anyone ruing the fact there are no icecream stalls or snorkel-hire facilities there.”
Alf suspects this Mary Varnham might be the same Mary Varnham who lives in Wellington. If so, he suggests she pop down to Parliament some day to have a word with those in high places about DoC’s budget.
As Waikato conservator Greg Martin explains, DoC is faced with diminishing state funding and has to find ways to fund its work.
Costs at Cathedral Cove included a $500,000 repair of the carpark, ongoing work on the rockfall at the cove’s arch, and the stabilising of a rockfall behind the cove to protect houses.
Varnham better get to the Minister with her bleating before Alf does. He will be suggesting we could fetch more money for DoC by sticking McDonalds and Kentucky Fried restaurants on the cove.
Ah, nothing better than a good environmental stoush, Alf! I didn;t know about this story when I visited the cove. Cheers, Richard