AT THE camp camp a new queen was crowned last night.
As many as 500 people were gathered at Vinegar Hill campground on the Rangitikei River near Hunterville for the annual New Year's Eve celebrations there.
They were gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual adults and their children and friends ? "anyone who will feel comfortable in this environment".
"It's usually us getting intimidated, but this time it's the other way around."
This was a big year for the gathering, it is 30th anniversary. Men and women from as far away as Australia and the South Island were there.
For many, who belong to local groups, it was a rare chance to get together.
The current queen, crowned last year, is Auckland's Marc Smith.
We found him at his palace, a white tent with tables set out with food and drink for the Queen's Cocktail Party.
He said the role gave him a lot of responsibilities: organising the big party last night, collecting camp fees, being chief contact for Manawatu District Council, smiling and waving.
This year had been successful so far.
There was Christmas dinner for 30, a civil union ceremony on the beach on Boxing Day, a movie night, a softball game, a barbecue on the beach, a bush fashion show with outfits made of foliage, a best buns, tits and legs competition and a competition for the best decorated campsite.
Last night there was to be a big bonfire, and performances. There would be drag queens, live singing, lip syncing, awards presented and the coronation of the new queen.
"You can only ever be queen once."
The new queen was chosen by a committee of previous queens, and there were eight of those in residence at Vinegar Hill this year.
In the rivalry for the best decorated campsite there were some hot contenders.
One large tent had an entrance garden with gravel spirals. The "Vinegar Hilton" had lights and a flagpole and was "fit for a queen".
Another tent had a chandelier, hot and cold showers and a lighted flower arrangement outside.
Those awards were to be presented last night, and after the bonfire and performances there was to be a dance party.
Campers said the council was helpful, putting in extra rubbish containers, and local shops and hotels received a lot of custom.
"Hunterville does quite well out of this event."