On the road again

After a couple of months, hibernating during winter cabin fever was beginning to take hold, and it was time to hit the road again. We had been in contact with Dave and Nita who we had met on our South Island trip, and they suggested a meet up at the opening of the new NZMCA camp to be opened shortly in Te Araroa on the East Cape.

Before we could hit the road, however, there was a project that had to be completed. When we first purchased our motorhome, we bought one that was already here in New Zealand rather than ordering a new one from Germany. This meant that we had to live with the rather bland brown and tan seat covers that came with the van.

So a couple of weeks ago, we hit Spotlight to look at new fabric, and after much discussion between the two of us, we found a material that both of us were happy with. Just to test things out, we purchased 4 metres to start with there was some confusion over the price with two tags attached to the roll. One showing $34.95 and the other $39.95 a check on the computer showed it should have been the higher price, but they charged us the cheaper one anyway.

When we were away a few weeks ago with the group of Dethleffs owners, Sarah had the chance to look at some squabs that had been recovered by one of the other owners. The original idea was to copy this style of cover which involved using elastic around the fabric underneath the squab to pull it all tight. This idea didn’t quite work out so the more involved process of making complete covers began.

After a successful test of this method, we realised that we hadn’t purchased anywhere near enough fabric, so a quick trip back to Spotlight was in order.

A rather pleasant surprise was in order at Spotlight. The fabric we had chosen was now on clearance special and down to $15 per metre, but if you purchased three metres or more, it was then half price again so $7.50 per metre as opposed to the $34.95 we had paid the previous week. So we purchased the remains of the roll 15.4 metres for $115.50 compared to $139.85 for the four metres we bought the last week!

And so the great work continues. In total there are 7 squabs to be recovered plus two headrests, and that’s without even thinking about the two front seats, which will be a significant challenge in themselves.

We hadn’t had a newspaper delivered to the house for almost a year now so when Sarah needed something to make a pattern out of it was a quick visit to the neighbours to grab a couple of weekend papers, so she had something large enough to use for those awkward shapes. Placing the squab on top the newspaper to then draw around it.

Finally, with the job completed (or at least the squabs) it was a quick trip out to where the motorhome is stored to put them back and view the finished result.

Impressive I would have to say, with what has been achieved so far and we are both thrilled. So with all that sorted, we were ready to hit the road again. With the weather gods deciding to smile on us, we hit the road Sunday with the plan to spend at least one night at the NZMCA camp at Waihi Beach.

You wouldn’t think it when you see the above photos but when we arrived at the Park on Sunday it was almost full with very few places available to park. We decided that we would have a quick look down the road at the freedom camping area in ANZAC Cove. Where we nabbed a great spot looking out over the water.

* Note: The freedom camping area at Anzac Cove has been closed to freedom campers*

We returned Monday morning on our bike ride to find the camp almost empty with spaces everywhere. Oh well, such is life.

I was sitting here enjoying the sun and reading the June/July Motor Caravanner when I came across an article talking about Anzac Bay and how the NZMCA had sorted the overcrowding situation here by opening the new Park just up the road. So I figured that we had parked in the original Park!

For those that haven’t been to ANZAC Bay, it’s right at the Bowentown end of Waihi Beach and faces the inner harbour. Parking is minimal with only space for maybe 6 motorhomes with the camping area enforced by the council handing out $200 fines to anyone parked in the wrong spot. Or at least that’s what we were told by one of the other campers here.

Even though the skies were starting to look a little ominous, we couldn’t turn down the chance to stretch the legs and walk up the hill next to the camp. This provides a great view of Matakana Island on the other side of the water with Mt Manganui in the background.

The hill itself is an old Maori Pa with evidence everywhere of ancient fortifications. It would have been a very strategic site back in the day with great views in all directions as well as plentiful seafood from the surrounding harbour. There are stacks of old shells all over the hill.


We had to beat a hasty retreat to the motorhome when the sky turned black, then heavy drops started falling from the sky, thankfully no more really than a heavy passing shower before we felt able to get out and continue with our adventures.

I came here last year with two of my sons, staying at the Bowentown camping ground (we needed to charge the EBikes that day) as Sarah wasn’t with us I was keen to show her the BMX track on which our boys had heaps of fun. Then the two of us set off for a stroll along the beach. This beach stretches almost 10 kilometres from Bowentown to Waihi Beach but today wasn’t the day to walk it’s length just a chance to stretch the legs.

There are several carpark areas along the road leading to Bowentown, some of which are available to freedom campers, and we chose the walkway from the beach leading to this one to head back to the road.

It was here that we ran into Derek working on his caravan brakes. Derek told us that he has been living and freedom camping in the area for the last year and absolutely loves the place.


We had a quiet and uneventful night, Both of us have some concerns about freedom camping in public carpark areas as we worry about being disturbed by hoons. So it was surprising at 5.00am to be woken by another camper opening and slamming closed their habitation door on a repeated basis. They had already upset the campers on either side by squeezing into a space that didn’t really exist forcing both of them to move, one into a space vacated by another leaving, they felt so hemmed in.

So with a beautiful blue sky day, it was out with the EBikes for the first bike ride in a couple of months. The good thing about this area is it’s almost totally flat so even though we had the EBikes we didn’t really need to use the E part.

On the ride back towards Waihi Beach, we passed the dump station that’s handily located on the main road. It’s a great site with easy access, no matter what size your vehicle. It also has potable water, which the NZMCA camp doesn’t.

Reaching the Waihi Beach settlement, we came across yet another freedom camping area. I must say this area is one of the best we have come across with place to stay. Although the number of spots is probably still not enough for the height of summer, there was plenty of choice here in winter.

As we rode past the Top 10 camping ground, Sarah spotted the bus belonging to Andy and Amber together with their two young children Jake and Daisy who write the blog Buslifenz.comĀ and also have a very successful Vlog (video blog) on YouTube. Sarah has been reading and following their video adventures and was keen to say hello, so went and introduced ourselves. It’s a blog well worth having a look at.

In the hills behind the campground is the Waihi Beach reservoir with an extensive walking/cycling track that runs right around it, through native bush. It was a real hidden gem to find.

When we had driven into Waihi Beach the previous day, we noticed some caravans and motorhomes parked at the top of the hill to the left. This turned out to be the local RSA. We rode up to investigate. It’s free to stay here although obviously, they do like you to take advantage of the bar and restaurant. You must also register with the office upon arrival. Great meals for $20 according to the people we spoke to staying in one of the caravans.

Returning from the bike ride (28kms) we decided that we hadn’t had enough exercise and decided to climb the hill on the other side of ANZAC Bay. Other than the paths being very wet and slippery, it was an enjoyable walk up and over the hill to Shelly Beach on the other side.

This hill must have had a strong Maori presence in the past as we came across several shell middens along the path. The pile of shells in the photo above was almost half a metre deep and 100 metres up the bank and had obviously been used for a very long time.

Back up to the top, we took in the fantastic views back towards Waihi Beach, they certainly made the walk worthwhile. On the way down I noticed just how badly the area was affected by noxious weeds like Gorse, Blackberry, Ginger etc. it is a real shame to see this, and I wonder what can be done to restore the area to native bush or at least help reduce the problem.
Overall we have really enjoyed our stay at ANZAC Bay and have been surprised by the amount of places that you can stay in such a small geographical area. Well done to the local council for having these. We also loved the walks and the cycle along the long flat road next to the beach so pretty. All in all, a place well worth a visit.

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 hereĀ 

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2 thoughts on “On the road again

  1. So glad that your latest adventure started so well .. Hope it continues that way. The new covers look very smart. Well done,Sarah!

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