With Christmas fast approaching and wanting to sneak in one last holiday, before the crowds descend into our favourite spots. Sarah and I headed away to join our friends Adrian and Sally at the freedom camping area at the end of Ramp Rd, Tokerau Beach on the Karikari Peninsula in the far north.
We found a great spot slightly elevated with a great view over the beach. Since we brought the new stays for the awning it’s also great to be able to put it out and not have to worry about it being blown away in a gentle zephyr, it’s such a big sail.
Before leaving home, I had asked Adrian if he could guarantee that after driving all the way to come see them, the fishing would be decent, the weather pleasant and the company even better. He replied that the fish were biting and the weather was great, so 2 out of 3 wasn’t bad! Knowing that he was joking about the company we set off.
With the tide high early in the morning, the sun beginning to really shine, it was perfect for a fish. As we were sitting relaxing waiting for the first bite a car stopped behind us and told us what a great photo it would make of the two of us sitting there relaxing and did we have a camera. Passing over my phone I did wonder if that would be the last I would see of it as it disappeared down the beach with the car, thankfully this was an unfounded fear, and the photo above is a result.
Tokerau Beach, for those who don’t know or haven’t been there, is a stretch of golden sand maybe 20 kilometres in length and at various places along the beach regulars to the campground (if you can call it that) have marked their position on the beach as their favourite spot. So it was with Chalky (top right) who has been fishing here for as long as there have been fish in the sea. Chalkies spot is about 1km down the beach, and it’s from here if the wind is blowing the right way that he launches his fishing kite, complete with a full set of 25 hooks. When Adrian and I wandered down to investigate he was just hauling the line in, sadly one solitary snapper (shown) and a small hammerhead shark were all he had to show for 2 hours with the line out.
You meet some real characters motorhoming, and so it was when we met Keith during our stay here. Keith can best be described as a raconteur although he would prefer that you call him a storyteller and a lover of life. Seen in this photo with his beloved Bedford, The Flying Tortoise, that he much prefers to the generation of Tupperware containers, as he calls them, that are travelling our roads today.
Keith’s prefered method of fishing is also a kite, but unlike Chalky, his only carries 5 or 6 hooks into the air, so the chances of success are much slimmer. He does, however, tell tales of fish coming for dinner best repeated by printing one of his stories here.
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner The westerly wind Was blowing that day I attached the kite to the line And willed it away. It raced over the waves Going far out in the bay. Some fish saw it And continued to play Not realising fate Was heading their way. The five hooks With tempting morsels of food Was an invite to dine To refuse would be rude. Three large happy Snapper Were passing and looked They tasted the treats And were instantly hooked. Oh how splendid they called As they rode in on the line We're going to Keith's place for dinner We should have brought wine.
These are the three fish that came to dinner that night just to prove that it can be done.
Keith insisted that we spend some time listening to some of his stories, for he loves an audience and does an excellent job of playing to them with the bowler hat and the willing laugh as the words fall off his tongue. I must say that listening to Keith was an inspiration for my own writing and after having listened to a number of his tales I think it’s time to start writing some of my own to relate some of the events that happen to us in the motorhome in a different way. I have set myself a challenge to start this and Keith has agreed to proofread them.
So if you are in the area and you run into Keith make the time to listen, look for a blackboard outside the Bedford that might say “Storytelling 2pm” or similar it’s well worth the time.
When we visited last year, we discovered that the Coca Cola lakes are an excellent place for a swim. The water is heavily stained by tannin from all the plant matter that surrounds the lake, but this colour also warms the water faster than usual for a lake, and it’s a bit like having a warm bath. Lots of people swear by the properties of the water, and we have heard claims of all sorts about the benefits of swimming here. All I can say for sure is that it’s like washing your hair with conditioner, it just feels so soft afterwards.
Over the last few weeks Adrian has been chasing down a fishing torpedo and after much deliberation decided on a secondhand Predator as pictured. After collecting it in Kaitaia and then getting the batteries charged overnight he was keen to try it out. Sadly the first run wasn’t that successful with only one snapper coming back after a couple of hours in the water.
So the batteries went back on charge with the plan to have another go with the setting sun. On the second run, Adrian was already much more proficient getting the baits on the line, and it was with a sense of great anticipation when the second retrieval of the day started. As Adrian had set the distance as further out it was getting darker and darker as the line was winding in, then the first snapper appeared, then another and another with 5 in total coming ashore. The last fish was a really decent size causing much celebration from Adrian.
Although we didn’t catch any fish surfcasting it was good to see others catching fish by various different methods and fascinating to see a drone used for taking out a long line something I have never seen before. This is also probably the most social camp we have ever stayed at where almost everyone is here for the same reason, so stories are shared about the one that got away and the one that didn’t.
We spent over a week here and absolutely loved the camp here. It might be a bit basic the ground isn’t really level there is no water, the last 600 metres of the road to get here is genuinely terrible, but the place is just magic, and you need to put Ramp Road on your must-visit list.
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 for other places and camps, we have stayed click here