It was one of those will we or won’t we Monday morning’s when the weather really didn’t know quite what it wanted to do. In the end I decided I will and Sarah decided she wouldn’t, she wanted to continue working on the new seat covers for our motorhome. So it was left to me to get myself up to Shakespear Regional Park and check it out for this blog and as a place for future visits.
The peninsular that is Whangaparoa, is situated about 40 kms north of the Auckland CBD. When I met Sarah 30 years ago it was still dominated by holiday baches one of which her family have owned since 1962. So it’s rather sad to see the extensive housing that makes it just another suburb of Auckland today. Urban spread gone wild!
However once you reach the end of the road and arrive at Shakespear Regional Park it’s almost like being magically transported to another part of New Zealand as the houses disappear and rolling farm land takes their place. Auckland City Council is actually the largest farmer in the Northern region.
The whole area of the peninsula that contains the camping area and beyond is now a land island with a huge predator free fence. This has allowed the reintroduction of native species such as Kiwi making this a very special place as one of the only places with free roaming Kiwi in Auckland. The Park has also had extensive plantings to regenerate native bush and wetlands areas.
Once in the park proper you turn left uphill towards the two camping areas at Te Haruhi Bay. But first it’s a quick photo op at the giant picture frame that dominates the top of the hill overlooking the bay. It certainly was a picture of a view that morning.
Into the park proper to reach a reminder that this park used to be someones farm with this one of the few original buildings still remaining on the property. The original farm house is now a YMCA camp. The park was officially opened in December 1977 by the then Prime Minster Robert Muldoon. These days the park attracts around 600,000 visitors a year but on the day of my visit I could count the visitors on both hands.
Once down on the flat you reach the area where CSC vehicles can park up on a hard surface. It’s good to see that the parking bays are around 11 – 12 metres long so could easily take our motorhome at 9 metres or two smaller vehicles with a bit of an overhang over the grass to allow for the 3 metre rule.
Parking in the CSC area is $20 per night regardless of the number of people in the motorhome, or at least that’s the figure that comes up using the council online booking service. A quick check on pricing during summer shows that the price is the same year round which I find surprising as I thought it would be cheaper during winter. I am a strong advocate for making these places much more affordable over winter maybe as little as $5 per night to encourage use of the facilities and also reward the people that are travelling during that off peak period.
Across the roadway from the CSC area is a large park area that opens up onto the sweeping beach that was completely devoid of people on this beautiful winters day. There is potable water available here from taps although these are too far from the road or the camp to connect your hose. There is also a a rather dilapidated toilet block just across from the CSC camp, it’s still more than serviceable and clean it’s just really showing it’s age. But one mustn’t grumble.
At the end of the sealed roadway is the entrance to the camping area of Te Haruhi Bay. Despite the sign telling you that bookings can be made over the phone at the park office this is no longer the case. However since almost everyone carries a mobile these days it should not be a problem for most.
It’s good to see the Kiwi sign on the gate reminding you that this is a land island with a predator proof fence. So if you have driven in here with your dog or cat you need to immediately turn around and exit the park as no animals are allowed. I realise that a lot of motorhomers travel with their pets ruling out places like these but conservation must be a priority in places like this close to the city where so few other places exist.
Despite Auckland Regional Parks being rubbish free I noticed these bins at the campsite along with another worm farm. The ultimate in recycling I guess.
The official camping area is a large flat area that given the huge amount of rain we have had recently was remarkably firm and dry. In fact the council have had to close a number of their camps over the winter due to sodden ground. Refer previous blog. So it’s good to see one that can be used year round.
One thing I did find surprising is that given that the camp can take 160 paying campers that there appeared to be only one water tap. This tap was located at the back of the camp ground and I imagine access would be quite difficult when the camp is full.
The camp is $15 per adult per night with a minimum charge of $30. I don’t really see why this place should be any more expensive than the CSC area given it offers no extra facilities. You can however stay here for 7 nights as opposed to 3 nights in the CSC area. Bookings can be made up to 7 months in advance via the council website.
Behind the campsite is a walk up the hill that takes you to Pink Beach, a really pleasant walk through farm land. The walk starts off on a nice gravel track that runs out at the top of the hill. Sadly the ground beyond here became very boggy making access beyond this point a walk for dryer ground conditions and another day.
Back down the hill and past the ancient Maori burial ground that adjoins the campsite and then for a stroll along the beach. It’s not hard to imagine once the weather warms up just what a pleasant place this would be to stay.
The beach is obviously a very safe swimming beach with a huge grassed area behind to allow for plenty of picnic places or just some shade under one of the many pohutakawa trees.
At the other end of the beach from the campground is the Ranger station which is also the home to the Shakespear Open Sanctuary a group of volunteers working to reintroduce and foster native species within the park.
The building was unmanned on the day of my arrival but the Peacocks were doing their best to man the station in the absence of a ranger.
Leaving the park I stopped at the picnic area located just inside the main gate, although you cannot camp here it would be a very pleasant place to park up and have a picnic under the trees. Maybe even try your luck at collecting your bag of cockles for dinner. There are great views from here to Rangitoto and the Sky Tower in the background.
Leaving Shakespear Regional Park I thought I would call into the freedom camping area located at the Gulf Harbour Marina. It’s a much larger area than a lot of freedom camping areas. Unlike a lot of these places where anything bigger than a car will struggle to park here you could easily park an 11 or 12 metre motorhome with plenty of room on the otherside for one of a similar length.
Reading the online comments the 20 spaces here fill up really fast so an early arrival would be best. Because these are car/trailer spaces they are a standard carpark width meaning that you are very close to your next door neighbour.
Located just inside the carpark are toilets and a very handy dump station but sadly no fresh water. There is fresh water at Shakespear Regional Park but no tap close enough to connect a hose from the carpark.
The notice about the defence area relates to an area of land and sea at the end of the peninsular that is used by the Navy with the land a restricted area and obviously when they are doing live firing then so is the sea.
Heading back to Auckland it was a quick visit to RnRV in Silverdale for a catch up with the owner Paul to discuss a couple of things about a new blog series I am working on to be published soon. Paul’s yard runs alongside the Northern Motorway so as you drive past you can see this huge display it’s worth getting off at Silverdale to have a look at whats on offer if you are considering a motorhome or caravan purchase.
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