Leaving the wonderful camping area of Maraenui vowing to return sooner rather than later we headed off in our convoy of three towards Te Araroa and the reason for our trip the opening of the new NZMCA Park there.
With Dave and Nita leading the way us in the middle and Den and Bren bringing up the rear I wondered how traffic behind us would feel. Den however dropped back so that traffic would not face three motorhomes one in front of the other and Dave and I made sure we pulled over whenever we had someone behind us. I actually think we did a really good job of not slowing things to much.
The East Coast Road is so much different than the two of us remember, last time we came this way over 20 years ago, we remember seeing nothing but “Keep Out”and “Private Property” signs as well as a large proportion of rundown ramshackle housing of which there was almost none on this drive. A really noticeable difference.
You know you aren’t on State Highway 1 when the road narrows to one lane but that all adds to the enjoyment of the drive. As well as the chance to go slowly enough to have a decent look at the views as the road follows the Motu River for a short distance.
Den and Bren (Dennis and Brenda) have recently upgraded to this Mitsubishi Fuso Bus from their old Nissan Civilian. Sarah snapped this shot of the two of them sharing the love seats in the front. They reminded her of a couple of 16 year olds. The two front seats are mounted almost right next to each other reminding us of a love seat.
With Dave and Den knowing the area well it was good to have a couple of guides leading the way. Stopping at places like this church to take in the sights and feel of the coast. If we were on our own we might have stopped to snap the photo of the church but would not have known that it was open to viewing so would never have had the chance to step inside.
We stopped at Waihau Bay for some lunch, sadly the weather was beginning to pack in spoiling what I am sure would have been a really nice view across the bay. There is a charges applies parking area here just behind where we had parked, which looked like a great place to stay in summer. #3044 for those with the travel directory.
We also stopped at the beach in Hicks Bay where we could have walked to the old wharf but with the rain now really starting to make it’s presence known we decided that that’s something for another day. The road to the wharf is in poor condition and really narrow that’s why Dave had parked on the beach but neither Den or I were prepared to try that.
When I was planning this trip I had seen that at the opening of the Park at Dargaville they had some 80+ vans with a large number also attending the opening of the park in New Plymouth. Worried that we would arrive on Friday to find the camp full signs I had agreed with Dave that we would arrive on Thursday and there where already 8 vans here when we arrived.
Needless to say my fears were groundless the camp is huge (over 6000 square metres) with space for plenty of vans but actually only around 20 where expected. Mostly from the areas around the Cape.
The following day we set out for our morning constitutional heading towards the nearby beach for a bit of an explore. just after we left the camp we came across the three little pigs in a nearby paddock, they were so excited to see us but in reality they were just waiting to be fed.
The beach is a rather rocky windswept affair with a huge amount of driftwood at the top of the tideline. Not very inviting for a swim on this day but maybe the fishing would have been good.
Te Araroa is really nothing more than a small village with buildings that used to house the Bank, Theatre, Post office etc now either sitting idle or like the post office re-purposed as the local RSA/Community Centre. These days the village has a 4 Square store a Coffee shop a fuel pump and not much else.
What they do have though is the electric vehicle charging station for when all of you upgrade to electric motorhomes. Very forward thinking!
There are some things in each town that make that own unique and here in Te Araroa it was these flower planters that dotted the main street of the town. They certainly added some colour to the street.
Sarah and I wander through the town towards the road leading out to the lighthouse at East Cape and grabbed this photo looking back at the town. I think it captures just how remote this place is.
Back at the Park Dave and Nita suggested that we might like to get the bikes out and head off for an explore. First visit was the Manuka Honey factory about 2kms down the road from the Park where Nita purchased some of the local product. Everywhere you go on the coast you can see beehives, it is apparently a major industry here.
Sadly the heavens opened up again shortly after that and it was a rapid retreat back to the motorhomes.
That evening a large number of campers chose to visit the local hunting and fishing club where meals are available. Although we didn’t attend this we did hear stories of huge plates of food being served up as well as drinks at $5 regardless of what you ordered. It might be worth checking this place out if you come to stay here. Its within easy walking distance of the Park. The place is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and serves all the usual. Fish n Chips, Steak etc.
I took these photos the following morning to try and show just how wet it was the morning of the official Park opening. Sadly it was just going to get worse as the day progressed.
One thing I will say is the huge amount of river sand and stones they used from the local river to create a base here really has made it an all weather surface with the water doing a great job of draining away into the water drain by the road fairly rapidly.
As 1.30pm approached the local Iwi representatives started to arrive for the opening ceremony as everyone prayed for the rain to stop. Sadly it only appeared to get stronger and the wind began to pick up with Dave just one of a couple of people having their umbrellas blown inside out.
Unlike when we attended the opening of the Park at Motueka this time all of us were asked to make our way outside the gate for the first part of the blessing. Due to the number of umbrellas in front of me it was rather hard to get any decent photos. But I did manage to sneak to the front to grab a photo of the elders cutting the ribbon.
With the ribbon cut we were all invited back into the camp to walk all four corners where a prayer would be said at each to lift any Tapu that may exist at the camp. It was a matter of trying to dodge the ever increasing puddles as we made our way around the camp.
In the far eastern corner two Puriri trees where planted by Ferg and Brian who were instrumental in bringing this park into the NZMCA fold. I think the person I felt sorriest for was Cameron the Pastor who despite the adversity provided by the weather maintained a sunny disposition throughout reading from his prayer book to provide the blessing for the camp. A real “trooper” for the cause.
Once all four corners had been blessed it was back to the main gate for a final blessing and the park officially declared open. At this point I must apologise for the quality of the photos but everything was just getting so wet. From here it was time to retire to the warmth and dryness of the local RSA to conclude the ceremonies.
No NZMCA Park can be opened or so it would seem without a cake cutting ceremony and with much hilarity here when the cake almost fell off the stand whilst being cut the final act in opening the park had been completed.
We counted 21 vans at the opening and including the invited locals a total of 54 people attended the opening of the new NZMCA Park in Te Araroa a small turnout compared to a couple of recent openings but it is in a fairly remote part of the country and the weather for the weekend was absolutely atrocious so maybe all in all not a bad effort.
This opening brings to 43 the number of Parks that the NZMCA have opened and staying there brings to 30 the number we have stayed at. How are you getting on taking advantage of this fantastic resource.
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