At the time of writing there are 41 NZMCA camps dotted around New Zealand with Sarah and I having stayed at 26 of these. I hope to one day be able to say that we have stayed at them all but when you live in the city where two are located it’s hard to know if we will ever stay at either of these camps.
A couple of weeks ago we drove out west to visit the camp at Tui Glen and you can read that post by clicking here but this week it was time to brave the Southern motorway to visit the NZMCA camp based out at the Ardmore airfield.
The location on the Southern side of the city would be a handy base for those who are looking for a stopping off point close to the city but far enough away from the main hustle and bustle that you can feel you are really back in the country. It’s about a 10 minute drive from the motorway off ramp if you are coming from either the north or south and fairly well signposted. Coming from the always popular Rays Rest it’s about an hours drive.
Access to the camp is best from Hamlin Road and into Harvard lane as opposed to driving through the narrow roads if you enter from the Airfield Road entrance.
Auckland is so spread out these days and traffic delays caused by congestion seem to get worse and worse so this camp makes a great place for a layover if you arrive in Auckland later than expected or find yourself exhausted after battling through the traffic from the other side of town.
There are no worries here about the size of your motorhome although if it’s longer than 7 metres you cannot park in the window seat (front row), facing the runway. That’s a little bit of a shame as I am sure lots of people would spend quite a bit of time here watching the planes taking off and landing.
Talking about planes this airport was conceived and constructed during WW2 at the request of the Americans but with construction not completed until 1945 the war was basically over before the airport was finished.
These days the airport serves as a training base for a number of flying schools as well as being the major airport in Auckland for smaller private and company planes. With the odd jet plane coming and going during our visit. There are certainly a lot of planes, with a never ending line of planes taking off and landing during our visit.
You could also wander down to the Ardmore Airport Cafe for a bite and coffee and just spend hours watching the activity around you.
The camp itself has plenty of space although one of the campers we spoke to said that it was almost full the previous evening and had emptied out quite a bit in the morning. As usual there was a large cross section of vehicles in the camp.
Of all the NZMCA camps we have visited this one has by far the best library. With as you can see a decent selection of books from which to chose. There are also a number of magazines and a good collection of free stuff. I think this is a really good idea if what you have to donate will still be useful to someone else. It’s actually how we ended up with our old fashioned toast maker in Te Anau that worked better than the one we had recently purchased, which we traded in.
The camp has both rubbish and recycling bins at the back of the camp and these appear large enough to handle what one would imagine is quite a bit of stuff being tossed out.
During our travels in the South Island we spoke with a number of people who told us of the Air Cadets Hall, next door to the camp, and the ability to use the showers and washing machines for a donation. What was disappointing was almost everyone of those people spoke of the danger of loosing the facility because people are abusing the honesty system and not paying for what they are using.
If people are telling this tale in the Catlins and Central Otago it doesn’t say much for some of our members, that they wouldn’t pay a few dollars to use someone else’s facility.
The camp comes in at 4 out of 5 on my ratings scale and I think that’s a fair result for $3 per person per night. It’s certainly a place that I would stay if we were coming to Auckland. So a camp in West and South Auckland now the NZMCA just need to try and sort something North of the city. Or at least that would be my suggestion.
If you are at the camp on a Sunday and like fresh produce it might be worth checking out the Clevedon Farmers Market that runs every Sunday from 8.30 am till 1pm if you want to see what’s on offer click on this link to view the website for the market. The market is one of the largest in the country and well worth a visit although parking can be a bit tricky.
Once done with that you can head out to the coast making sure you stop at the Clevedon Oyster Co. for a dozen or two of their finest. Then check out some of the regional parks and beaches with a couple of really good picnic points along the way.
Next stop was to take a drive 3 kms down the road to find the dump station at Bruce Pullman Park. It was nice to see that you can access the dump from either side making it easier for Eurovans like ours with everything on the wrong side at so many places. It also has potable water and is free to use.
Right next to the dump station is a toilet block that also includes a shower and change room as per the above photo. The shower was closed for maintenance on the day of our visit but reading some reviews online it would appear to be free to use and unlike DOC camps runs hot water.
I think the biggest surprise of the day was to see the sign about motorhome parking at the entrance to the sports complex. Turns out you can also stay here for $6 per night per vehicle. You can either pay the fee at the reception area in the Gym or you can pay online via internet banking.
The only major drawback I could see here is that you need to leave by 8.00 am on a Saturday morning during winter to make sufficient parking space for the people coming to play/watch winter sports on the nearby fields. You would probably want to have a shorter happy hour on Friday.
To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.
To view the Ratings we have done for other camps click here