It’s funny we have owned the old campervan for 15 years prior to purchasing the new one and we had never been freedom camping and here we are spending our 4th day unrestricted in only 8 days of owning the van. The camp site at Whananaki South is not in the travel directory and it’s not on Campermate so apparently almost nobody knows about the place.
You need to drive around 10kms along a rather narrow metal road but the road itself was in reasonable condition . There are no marked spaces or signage with the place looked after by one of the locals. It’s like New Zealand was 50 years ago camping here a completely different experience.
At low tide it’s about a one kilometre walk across the beach most of the way to the Capitaine Bougainville memorial followed by a steep climb to the memorial itself that is covered in pine needles making staying on your feet and interesting experience. From there we walked back along part of the Te Araroa walkway through the pine forest and paddocks, this was a pleasant one hour walk with some great beach views.
On the walk back to the campsite I could not resist taking a photo of this fern releasing a new frond. In some ways it reminded me of the Day of the Triffids with the plants whip waiting for some unsuspecting person to walk by.
We also found this cemetery in the middle of the pine forest at the sandspit end of the beach that separates Whananaki North from South there were only six graves that where visible as acknowledged in the sign but it’s such a lonely place to have a grave yard it makes you wonder about the lives of the people that lived there at the turn of the century. Two of the graves where for really young children and although I have not posted photos of them both where being tended with toys placed at both gravestones by someone.
There are plenty of places to walk around the campsite and if you walk around the headland and into the estuary then Whananaki North is just across the foot bridge with a basic shop for essentials like milk and bread. They also have a swap a bottle for your gas but that’s probably a little heavy to carry back to the campsite.
We woke up to this stunning sunrise after the first night and with almost nothing between us and the water except sand you can see why I have called it paradise. My understanding from speaking to another camper is that the land was gifted to DOC who control the beach but handed the land to the local council who have done nothing with it. There are no toilets, there is no water, the nearest dump station is miles away and the road into the camp is narrow winding and unsealed for about nine kilometres but if you do go there I am sure you will be in paradise as well.
The beach at low tide, as you can see it’s very flat and at full tide it’s not that deep making it I would think a very safe beach for children, although when the full surf rolls in I would not like to guarantee that. But when we where there the largest wave was not much bigger that a ripple.
If you would like to see all the places we have visited click here
If you would like to see the ratings of the places we have stayed click here