With the tour of the Heritage NZ sites completed we wanted to catch up with Aileen and Stewart who we had met in the South Island and who we knew were staying at the Ruakaka Beach Holiday Park whilst Aileen was completing a work assignment nearby. Despite having lived in Whangarei in the 1980’s and driven past this camp numerous times on the way North neither of us had ever been to this camp.
From the roadside the camp reminds me a little of the old summer camps in England. There where numerous caravans parked up by the entrance and we were a little hesitant about staying there. So much as I hate to admit it, we parked on the road and with the office closed wandered through the camp looking for Aileen and Stewart’s motorhome.
We found Stewart and the motorhome perched on a slight hilltop overlooking the estuary and the beach in what appeared a prime position. A quick word with Stewart and we decided that actually this could be quite a nice to stay much better than it looks from the road. So back to the office to register. The rates were really reasonable and included power, free use of the showers and an onsite dump station with water taps at every power point. During winter they run a special for those looking to hide away with a weekly rate of $120 and a monthly rate of $500 with everything included, great value!
With the motorhome parked up close to Stewart but well more than three metres away. It was time to stretch the legs and explore the beach and estuary area. With the path down to the estuary just below where we had parked the van leading towards the beach it was the obvious place to start.
It was a glorious day with both of us in shorts and T shirts with me even breaking out the sandals for the first time since winter. The only downside was a rather strong onshore breeze that got stronger as the day progressed. At least it was warm though not a cold southerly.
The whole area around the estuary and the beach along to the surf club is a wildlife refuge so as you will see from the sign no dogs. horses and vehicles. So the only thing disturbing us was the squawking from various birds and the overpowering scent from the fresia’s that were growing everywhere along the pathways behind the beach.
The great thing about travelling at this time of the year rather than peak periods is the complete absence of people both in the places we stayed and at the places we visited with the beach almost completely deserted save for a few lonely fishermen at various intervals along the beach.
I am sure that a lot of motorhomers would feel sad looking at such a large area with well defined walkways and lots of scrub and think my dog would love it here. This however is an important conservation area as are most wetland areas in New Zealand. Since the camping ground is on DOC land it also has a no pet policy as does the DOC camp at Uretiti just down the road ruling out most of the camping here for motorhomers with pets.
As we wandered down to the surf club building we took a couple of shots of the beach the one above looking down towards the DOC camp at Uretiti and as you can see we basicly had the beach to ourselves. I am sure that in the warmer months to come and with a little more swell in the water that the surfies will be out in force and the club will be a much busier place than it was then.
There is a small amount of space available for freedom camping just down the road from the surf club. As you can see from the photo it is only a small space, but what you cannot properly see from the photo is that this space is anything but level with quite a sharp slope from the back of space to the road. Fine if you have leveling chocks but not to good if you don’t.
Be careful where you park as there is a large reserve area just beyond the freedom camping area were camping is prohibited and patrolled. It’s a real shame as this reserve area is a large open space that doesn’t appear would be in anyones way if you did camp there. Don’t risk it. One final thing is you are 10 metres long, the maximum length allowed, you better hope there is nobody else there otherwise no chance of staying.
On our return to the camp we went for a wander around. This camp is huge with over 330 campsites making it the largest we have been too, even bigger than Totaranui in the South Island. At this time of the year it’s mostly just an empty campsite but still a great place to wander around imagining the throngs that would be here in summer.
The drunken wharf was an unexpected find I don’t know if it had been hit by a large boat or if one of the support beams underneath had given way but obviously taped off at the entrance as unsafe to use.
Strange though it might seem Sarah had taken her sewing machine along on this trip so that if we got a quiet time she could try and finish recovering the seat cushions in the motorhome. Since neither of us are huge fans of brown we had chosen this new fabric that she had started working on a little while ago. You can read the story of the beginning of the great recover here. All that remains are the head rests behind Sarah and then we need to do something about the two front seats.
That night Aileen and Stewart joined us for happy hour inside the van and it was one of those nights when for some strange reason I took no photos. Since Aileen left for work before we surfaced the following morning and as we were leaving that day I took this photo of Stewart holding the invisible Aileen saying goodbye to us.
For all of our reluctance to enter this camp at the outset it turned out to be a great place to stay and one that I would recommend you can contact them on 09 432-7590 or www.motorcamp.co.nz Bookings are essential over the summer months.
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