A Grand Opening

We had stayed at the new NZMCA camp in Motueka a couple of weeks after it opened for a few days and really enjoyed our time there. During our time at the camp various members of the local committee where coming and going looking at various things around the camp as well as speaking to the campers to gain feedback. It was during this time Sarah and I heard about the tree planting together with the grand opening to be held the following Saturday.

We have been members of the association since 2002 during this time I regret to say that we have never been to a rally or been involved in any activity to do with the association except for taking advantage of the discounted offers and using the DOC pass each year so together we decided that it was time to give back and help out with the tree planting.


So after our trip to Farewell Spit we crossed back over the Takaka Hill to Motueka. The first time I crossed this hill I wrote about how scary I found the drive it’s funny how your perspective changes with experience and South Island roads. After having driven some fairly scary roads over the last 4 months, Waiuta, Lake Coleridge and Godley Head the Takaka Hill just becomes a long steep hill even if it does have a few roadworks at the moment.

We arrived into Motueka stopping at the excellent New World store to replenish the cupboards and pick up a loaf of our new favourite bread (A pumpkin seed loaf) then it was the short drive to the NZMCA camp. Since we had been here a couple of weeks ago it had changed slightly with a horseshoe of stones now running through the centre of the camp to provide firm surface to access the camp.

With the area we had camped previously fenced off to prepare for the plantings we spoke with one of the committee members who was working on the site and he suggested the far right corner which appeared to be reasonably firm underfoot in what was I regret to say rather a boggy mess of a camp. I think if we hadn’t committed ourselves to helping the next day we probably wouldn’t have stayed here.

The camp is located directly across the road from the Motueka Recreation Centre which includes the local cinema and with the rain continuing to persist down we decided to spend the afternoon inside a nice warm theater watching a movie. For those that we are interested we watched Tully which is a rather strange movie it’s not really a guy’s movie.

Saturday morning the day dawned rain free if rather cloudy. It looked like the gods would be smiling on the local committee giving them a reasonably nice day to have the planting and opening. It was a fairly decent turnout for the 8.30am start to the planting with some 20 plus turning out although most had stayed the night so not far to travel.

One funny aspect of that morning was a camper fleeing the camp first thing when they noticed the work party about to start. Of course it could just have been a coincidence.

With such a good turnout the group was divided into 3 separate work parties with one to start at the gate one in the middle and us in the far right corner. With yours truly on self appointed spade duty. All of the plants had been laid out by the supplier in their designated place so it was simply a matter of moving them, then digging the hole. As the bank where we had been working was a fairly recent addition to the campground the soil was soft and the digging easy.

Photos of me courtesy of Bonnie Wilson who was also the official photographer for the event.

The rest of the work party each completed another part of the process adding the compost into the bottom of the hole with fertiliser others freeing them from the pots and spreading the roots for planting and finally covering with old carpet squares to prevent weed growth. All in all quite a process.

With the decent numbers of volunteers planting happened much faster than anyone expected and it wasn’t long before the final plant was set to be placed in the ground. This duty fell to Bob (top right photo) as recognition of the sheer amount of work that he had put into getting this park up and running.

So at just after 10am it was all over and with people still turning up to help everyone was surprised how quickly it had all been finished a chance to return to the motorhome for a cup of tea before the grand opening at 11am.

Never having been to anything like this before we weren’t sure if we faced hours of boring speeches or it would all be over quite quickly. As it turned out it was well planned with just enough talking to make it a formal event and still keep it interesting.

After a quick opening address from the Mike the local area chairman we where treated to a wonderful blessing, and it’s here I must apologise as I don’t know the ministers name, who with his wife explained that they use water to consecrate life through baptism and so it was the same with the park choosing two members of the committee to consecrate the park grounds.

Then the cutting of the ribbon to officially allow entry to the park (how did we all get inside I wonder) then the local committee had the cake cutting duties which appears from other posts to be quite the tradition.

Then onto the most important part of the event at least according to my stomach a terrific spread of nibbles for those attending the event. Feeling that I had more than earned my share with my efforts with the spade earlier in the day I sampled a variety of what was on offer and can report that it was all very tasty!

That afternoon Sarah and I wandered into town to take advantage of the local launderette only to be absolutely staggered on our return to find almost everyone had departed the camp. I later figured out that since almost all of the attendees where locals there was no need for them to remain in the camp. That night there were only 5 lots of campers left.

Saturday night the rain returned with avengeance I think there was more water here at the camp than there was at the local swimming pool, not a great time to be leaving. The ground that felt so firm the previous day was now beginning to feel rather like a sponge.

Motueka - NZMCA

Proximity to Attractions

Really handy to the local walkways and the Great Taste Cycleway runs past the camp. The local cinema is across the road and the beach a 500 metre walk.

Nearest Supplies/Town

New World and Countdown are an easy walk 1.5km walk into town both with tons of parking nearby if you need to take the camper.

Ground Surface

Sadly a rather muddy mess on both instances we visited. However I understand that they are planning to hard surface an area shortly.

Proximity to Water/Dump Station

Water right on site with a couple of taps located around the camp. The dump station is a 1.5km drive away.

Outlook from Camp

Rather an industrial setting with a big fruit packing shed right next door but this is offset by the local community gardens and the hills behind town.

Noise during Day and Night

Rather a drone coming all day and night from the packing/refrigeration sheds next door to the camp.

Cellphone Signal

Good coverage

Walking/Cycling Tracks

Right there next to the camp either around the lagoon or ride to Nelson or Kaiteriri

Overall Rating:

A well placed camp that suffers a little in it\'s score from the packing sheds next door but a great place to stay.

Thankfully, we thought, there was some carpet left on site that we could use to provide traction on or way out of our camping spot back onto the hard of the stones. So Sarah and I laid a trail in front of the wheels towards the stones with a view to extracting ourselves without getting stuck.

What is it they say about the best laid plans………… I think we made it forward about 1 metre then the wheels started to lost traction. At this point it was back outside for me to help relay the carpet in front of us. Sarah stood to the side on the carpet on the drivers side to try and hold it into place whilst I accelerated slowly forward, the next thing I knew the carpet was pulled out from under Sarah and she was tumbling over into the mud which had us held firmly stuck.

At this point our neighbour Alan popped  out to help spade in hand as he dug some of the mud away from the front wheels and Sarah and I spread stones in front of the wheels in an effort to provide some form of traction, sadly this failed so another course of action was required.


Even though Alan’s ute is only 2WD he was able to use the firmer surface provided by the stones in the middle to very gently give us the extra pull we needed to extract ourselves from the mud. Many thanks Alan who with his wife Irene are the custodians of the camp in Murchison, really great people and thanks to them both.

All of this has made me realise that after 16 years of being a member it takes a people like me and you to make things happen that benefit all in the Association and maybe it’s time to consider joining one of the local area groups to see what you or I can contribute to make the Association even stronger.


Next post involves a rather long stretch of metal road that leads to a very nice DOC camp.

To see all my camp ratings please click here

To see the interactive map of the places we have visited click here

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2 thoughts on “A Grand Opening

  1. Lovely photos of you digging holes, John. Well done, both of you – I’m sure that was appreciated. Glad you managed to get out in the end – certainly looked like a quagmire … Not something you would want to happen too often!

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