On what was another stunning Auckland winters day we decided it was time to explore all that the regional park in Wenderholm and it’s surrounds had to offer. First though was a quick pit stop in Albany to look at some upholstery fabric as we are thinking of personalising the lounge seats in the motorhome.
Coming out of the Albany Mega Centre we noticed a number of motorhomes parked in the Hooton Reserve parking area and despite clear signage stating there is no camping in the area people had and obviously were camping there. Some of these campers looked very well established, like they had been there for some time. In fact when I researching the place online I found a Stuff article from early 2016 talking about the Freedom Campers setting up long term at this reserve.
When we got home I checked all of the major camping apps but none of these appear to list this as an area that is available for camping, however a number people are obviously doing so. With this in mind you can make your own mind up about staying here and I have shown above on Google Maps were the place is located.
If you did decide to stay here there are toilets just across in the kids play area and the Albany Mega centre is within easy walking distance as is the bus station to take you into Auckland. Very handy I would say.
Wenderholm itself is located about 45 kms north of Auckland city with two areas that you can camp. The main campground entrance is located just inside the gates of the regional park and is accessed via the unlock code that you get from the parks help line at Auckland Council.
However as the grounds are currently sodden due to all the liquid sunshine we have been having so the camp is closed. Undeterred Sarah and I decided that we would walk down and inspect the grounds with a view to coming back when it was a bit drier.
The camping area is probably a good 800 metres from the entrance road. On such a warm sunny day it was a very pleasant walk alongside the paddocks that make up the working farm in this park. Interestingly all of the paddocks are named I guess that makes things easier for the park rangers when talking about whats happening in a particular area.
Just before the camp entrance is the rubbish collection area, although you are requested to take rubbish away with you making the place something of an anomaly. What was interesting was the worm farm. In all the places we have stayed I have never seen one of these at a campground and certainly not one that was the size of this. I wonder where the worms end up once they have farmed enough of them.
We decided that before looking at the campground that we would walk down to inspect Schischka House thinking that it might be a significant historic home or something along those lines. What I had forgotten is that a lot of the regional parks Wenderholm included have houses that used to be part of the working farm that you can now rent as a holiday home.
A quick check online via the Auckland Council website shows that the cottage is available for rent at $57 per night per adult although this was me just inserting a couple of random dates so it would pay to check before making plans.
Walking back down the road we reached the campground entrance which opens up into a large flat open field that would offer a number of really nice areas to stay.
The area is dotted with a number of water taps and has a large central toilet area and were it not so wet and boggy underfoot it would be a really nice place to be spending the night.
The camping area appears to have been set back from the water area with a number of bollards set into the ground preventing you from driving or camping as close to the water as you might want to. A bit of a shame really, even though it’s only mudflats it is still a very pleasant sight to look out onto.
It’s good to know that there is no length limit here whereas a number of the Auckland Council parks limit you to a max 7 or 8 metre length.
From the campground we wandered along the edge of the estuary towards the main parking area for the Regional Park. Where despite all the recent rain this area of the park was firm and dry underfoot and a very pleasant walk.
The same could not be said for the grassed area we crossed to get to the walking tracks where the field was nothing more than a green bog in places. We met some walkers coming out from the tracks who told us that parts of the track were very wet and slippery and as we didn’t have our tramping boots we decided that the walk could wait for another day.
We did however follow the formed track to Couldrey House which proved to be a very pretty bush walk without having to have our shoes covered in mud. The house itself was currently closed to visitors but last time we visited we found it to contain a number of historical artefacts that relate to the original settlers of the area.
Sarah and I actually have a rather vague family connection to Wenderholm with Sarah’s brother purchasing the old Tea Rooms building that used to be located here at Wenderholm and transporting it to his farm on the Awhitu Peninsular. I wanted to post some photos of the Tea Rooms in their original state but have been unable to find any. Rather sad as it was an interesting connection.
Arriving at the main car parking area you can register to stay in the self contained area that’s just a little further into the park. However unlike the main camping area you are restricted to just one night here although the cost of $8 per person per night is almost half that of the main camp.
It’s a simple process to pick up the phone in the shelter and call the council to register yourself for the night. The area is handy to clean toilets and plenty of BBQ and water taps are nearby.
On the day we visited there were only two motorhomes there so plenty of space to stretch out with a choice of hardstand or grassed areas to park on. It’s also very close to the estuary and very pleasant views. Making me wonder why more people aren’t camped here.
From the self contained camping area we wandered along a pathway that took us to another cottage that you can rent, this one almost right on the main beach. From there we strolled around the estuary outlet and with the tide so far out it looked like you could walk to the other side. Although a number of signs about strong currents suggested otherwise.
Wenderholm is a place that I would strongly recommend as somewhere to make the time to visit and spend either a day or a week exploring or just chilling out. One of the nicest regional parks in the Auckland network.
Upon leaving Wenderholm we decided that we would pop down the road to Waiwera site of the famous hot pools. The pools are currently closed for a major renovation and are due to reopen in December 2018. Since they where looking rather tired last time we visited it it’s probably a good thing. As State Highway 1 no longer passes the town they probably cannot rely on passing traffic anymore and need to make it more of a destination and to do that it needed investment.
Talking about investment a place sadly lacking this is the site of the old camping ground that has now been nothing more than an empty paddock for the last 3 or so years. I tried researching online to discover what is meant to be happening but other than some outdated development plans very little info is available.
It’s sad because it could make such a great campground if someone was prepared to invest the money to bring it up to a modern standard and with all the old buildings removed that’s probably more than someone wants to spend. No doubt next time we visit there will be nothing but multi million dollar houses.
To round out the day we stopped in Orewa at Captain Kerrs for a late lunch of fish and chips. We chose the place completely at random and I have to say it was some of the best fish and chips we have had. With fresh snapper at $7.50 for a generous sized piece also great value given it’s price in the shops these days.
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