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Some Surprising Freedom Campers (A community service perhaps?)

Janet Dixon

November 2019 

I can hear some of you groaning just reading the title, however it is not uncommon in Picton to see a Jucy van, a Wicked van or a great big campervan pull up in our driveway as travellers reach the midpoint of their NZ trip.  There is nothing like a hot shower, a comfy bed and a lovely breakfast when you have been travelling the countryside in a basic form of accommodation. Yes, we welcome them and take the opportunity to talk about taking care of our beautiful Isles.

Recently we had a surprisingly different form of freedom camper visit.  Some time back a friend called me asking if we would have room at Anchor Down for 5 nights or did we know of anyone in the Picton/Blenheim area who provided dog friendly accommodation.  Marlborough was hosting for the first time, The Black Hawk National Dog Show. Now a little shiver ran down my spine………we had a little think………and a little more, and then decided, that yes, we will be a dog friendly hosted accommodation provider for this event.  We have 2 reasons for this:

  1. It was my friend, who I have known for a very long time;  and
  2. Supporting our community in attracting events is important to us.

So many things were to be considered when thinking about this type of event, such as:

  1. How many dogs?
  2. What if other guests are allergic/non dog friendly types?
  3. Can the dogs come inside?
  4. If the dogs do come in, how long will it take to de-fur the room?
  5. What about the neighbours, especially if the dogs are noisy/boisterous?
  6. Do we have enough bedding to redo every room after they leave?

Being solution focussed folk, we came up with some answers to address the concerns we were having. As I was quite excited to be seeing my friend, we decided to make an offer to her that involved reduced rates for all, if the rooms were filled by the Dog Show folk.  She obliged and it was all on. 

God what had we let ourselves in for!The day came!!  The North Island ladies arrived first with doggies in tow and not long after our lovely Dunedin lady arrived with her little family.  How many dogs you ask? 11.  Yip that’s right 11. 2 Standard Poodles, 3 Miniature Pinschers and 7 Griffons.  All very excited after travelling from as far North as Napier and as far South as Dunedin. 

On seeing their travelling vehicles we knew all our worries of fluff and fur were all for nothing…….these guys are seasoned FREEDOM CAMPERS!  Luxury accommodation vans for dogs.   There was even little play pens for outside! The 2 legged members of the group ensured that sensible freedom camping practice took place, with doggy bags always in hand.

The neighbours … Well they fell in love.  Never have they seen 4 legged bouncing Miniature Pinschers before.  The free tickets one of them got also helped.  The morning walk through the streets of Picton must have been an absolute treat for the town. 

It really was an absolute pleasure to host these competitors and we would not hesitate to do it again.  Our District Council even changed the local bylaw to allow dogs on leads through the centre of town.


Did we let them inside? 

Beautiful Hestia a 12 year old standard poodle was recently diagnosed with cancer.  So yes we did let her inside. She came to support her little Griffon brothers and sisters.  Hestia had her own blanket and she was not all fluffed up like the beautifully groomed Eros.  Hestia is gentle and loving and is welcome here whenever she likes.  Oh and I became the biggest dog show convert you have ever meet.  I was obsessed.


So folk, welcome these different freedom campers if they come to your door.  The horror stories of dogs in rooms and fluff and fur over every surface won’t happen with these Dog Show folk.  Well behaved dogs and interesting owners (and that’s another story)

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Some Surprising Freedom Campers (A community service perhaps?)

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