But it has become a permanent home for many residents who have nowhere else to go, and it stands as a stark example of what happens when access to housing moves beyond the reach of society’s most vulnerable.
Newshub visited the park to speak to residents living on the frontline of New Zealand’s housing crisis.
One woman, who asked not to be named, said she was being charged $470 a week for an unfurnished one-bedroom unit with a separate toilet and shower.
As the woman is unemployed, her rent is paid by Work and Income.
Her previous rental was sold, leaving the woman and her four-year-old daughter with nowhere else to go.
“I had 45 days’ notice and I could not find anything anywhere,” she said.
Although she knows the price is high, she told us she was grateful to have somewhere to live.
“To be honest I don’t think I’ll be moving in a hurry, because I can’t be bothered with the ‘no’s all the time.”
Many residents say the cost of the housing is too high. Newshub spoke to one man who was paying $390 for a caravan, which he said he thought was too much.
“I’m paying $390 for this… $390! That’s a house!”
Bernie Smith is the CEO of Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, which has been on the frontline of New Zealand’s homelessness crisis for the last 30 years.
When Newshub told Mr Smith about some of the prices residents were being charged, he said they were being “ripped off”.
“There’s no doubt about that. For $470, you should be able to get something more substantive and secure than being in a park-like environment,” he said.
“What’s frustrating is that these lodges and parks can get away with what they do get away with, and in some cases earn millions of dollars a year by being propped up by government funding.”
But the owners of the park said the costs were fair, based on their need to have a dozen full-time staff on hand to deal with the special requirements of running this kind of operation.
They also noted that the price included free power, water and rates, along with amenities such as a free bus to Henderson, a free daily breakfast and free internet.
In a statement, the owners said they were down to 19 caravans and had three builders working full-time to convert these remaining sites into permanent dwellings.
“Please understand our frustration when in 20 years of trying to provide a service to people and do nothing but inject money to improve this service the entire time, all we get is hate from media wanting a juicy story,” the statement said.
“I just wish you could come and meet with the 90 percent of the village who enjoy the sense of community and camaraderie.”
Businesses like Western Park are dealing with an increasing number of people desperate for homes. The park is temporarily filling a gap Auckland’s housing crisis has created.
Housing crises aren’t a new phenomenon in New Zealand. As the country moved on from the Great Depression, housing quality and availability became scarce. In 1936 the then-Labour Government developed the Government Housing Act, which meant that every New Zealander would get a house to rent or own – at a price they could afford.
More than 80 years later, the Kiwi dream for most remains just that. Instead for the most vulnerable, it can be a living nightmare.