The Management of the council-owned Clyde Holiday Park is under fire following a slew of complaints from guests. The complaints centre on evictions, allegations of guests at the park being followed by the camp manager, abusive behaviour from management and failure to even secure a booking. Jared Morgan reports.
The News was made aware of multiple evictions at Clyde Holiday Park in the lead-up to New Year’s Eve, but has since uncovered complaints dating back to when Gary and Roslyn Ryan took over the lease of the holiday park two years ago and at other holiday parks the couple have managed.
The whistle-blower came in the form of Invercargill man Wing Ng, who was asked to leave on December 30 after he had intervened in what he initially believed was a domestic incident the night before.
Mr Ng, then an off-duty police officer, said he had been socialising with family and friends at his campsite in the holiday park when he heard raised voices about 11pm on December 29.
“I could hear a male shouting and could see the figure of a woman in front of him.
“I waited to see if the yelling would subside but the male did not stop yelling.”
He then went to investigate.
As he got closer he recognised the woman as his sister-in-law Leanne Cameron and the man as Mr Ryan who was “still yelling and was very aggressive and confrontational”.
As he drew level with Mrs Cameron he saw another woman whom he recognised as Mr Ryan’s wife.
“Gary’s wife was telling him to ‘shut up’,” he said.
At times Mrs Ryan had to push her husband away from Mrs Cameron.
Eventually, Mr Ryan yelled “you’re all out, you’re gone,” Mr Ng said.
The following morning Mrs Cameron, Mr Ng and another family were informed by a non-communicative Mr Ryan they were to leave.
“All he would say was away.
“I went back to my campsite still confused, spoke to my wife, and she was also confused as to who had to leave.”
Mrs Ng went to the office to be told by Mrs Ryan the Cameron family, the neighbouring family and husband were to leave.
Mr Ng later ascertained it was his alleged interference and quoting the law that was the reason the Ryans had decided he had to leave but it left his wife, children and grandchildren and extended family at the camp without him.
The family was tight-knit and had been camping at the Clyde Holiday Park for 52 years, occupied 10 sites and had about 20 people on site at any time, Mr Ng said.
“There were plenty of tears shed. I can usually control my emotions, [I] have to in my profession, but being away from my family for New Year was too much.”
The money he and his wider family spent was in Clyde but they – and their money – would not be returning as they had found an alternative, he said.
Mrs Cameron confirmed the incident Mr Ng became involved in stemmed from an incident earlier on the evening of December 29 when her daughter and partner were walking on the streets near the camp when they were stopped by Mr Ryan, who was driving a white ute, and demanded to know if the couple had been in the camp.
Mrs Cameron said her daughter told Mr Ryan they were in fact guests at the camp.
She then went to look for her daughter and the dispute with Mr Ryan happened after he had confronted her, asking where she was going.
Her 80-year-old mother Lynn Beardsley had been a fixture of the annual family camp but had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and she was disappointed the family stay had been disrupted given her mother’s condition.
“We cut our holiday short and organised another location to spend our money to have a holiday where we are not treated like prisoners.”
Other people who contacted The News, described problems even getting into the camp.
Gore woman Trish Gutschlag said she had not been able to make a booking at the Clyde Holiday Park since 2019 Ryans took over the lease despite multiple emails back and forth.
“[It] has left me at age 76 traumatised whenever Clyde camp is mentioned and people are asking me why I am no longer camping at Clyde after 40 plus years.”
She believed there were numerous other disgruntled campers who were too afraid to speak for fear of retribution.
“They don’t want to happen to them what they see has happened to me and others who have dared question the camp lessee and his somewhat questionable business acumen.”
She also pointed to widely reported issues at the Winchester Motor Camp in South Canterbury and Selwyn District Council’s North Rakaia Huts which had been previously leased by the Ryans.
Christchurch woman Gill Odering also said she had been unable to secure a booking in the holiday park in the past year after experiencing problems securing a spot for the 2020/21 period and had called Mr Ryan to express her frustration.
“I said he was a really difficult person to deal with and really disorganised, he then hung up on me.”
She believed Mr Ryan acted out of spite rather than practicality when it came to refusing her booking and she would not return to Clyde Holiday Park while it remained under his management.
Central Otago District Council planning and environment executive manager Louise van der Voort said she had spoken to the Ryans.
“As I understand it, over the break there were a number of visitors to the camp who entered the site without signing in under the Covid-19 requirements.
“Some of these people accessed from places other than the main entrance and stayed later than is permitted under camp rules, drinking and causing a level of disturbance to other campers.
“And it seems that some of the campers staying at the site were also reluctant to follow sign-in procedures.”
The Ryans, as lessees of the camp from the council, were responsible for the daily operation of the facility, she said.
“We do, however, take the complaints seriously and I will be investigating further to ensure the facility is operated as intended under the terms of the lease.”
The Ryans declined to comment when contacted regarding this story.