It seems like a lifetime ago that we last managed to get away in the motorhome when in reality, it’s only been a couple of months. We decided that we would leave the campgrounds to the holidaymakers during the height of summer. Then I was called in early January for what I thought would be a small surgical procedure to obtain a biopsy only to banned from driving for 4 weeks to give the wounds time to heal. You can read the story of this in my previous post.
During this enforced time off, Sarah kept herself busy with some interior decorating while my only meaningful contribution was cleaning the brushes at the end of each coat. Really struggling with pain from where they had cut, poked and prodded and then getting an infection in one of the wounds. I found it challenging to maintain my usual positive attitude. I would never have thought that this loss of mobility would have such a profound effect on my mental wellbeing.
Finally, four weeks had rolled past meaning I could “safely” get behind the wheel, time to head off and enjoy the motorhome. I have always been a confident driver when we had the car rental business, it would be nothing to drive from Auckland to Napier and back in a day to assist with a breakdown. This time, however, it was different with Sarah suggesting the first stop close to Auckland, my body also told me this was the most sensible decision.
We decided to make the first stop at Wenderholm one of the many parks that are part of the Auckland Regional park network. We had visited here last year but not stayed in fact this would be our first night in the motorhome in one of the Auckland regional parks. There are two areas set aside for camping with the main carpark suitable for CSC vehicles @$16 for the night, it is however limited to a one night stay. The second area is the official campground it’s set back inside the park (more about this later)
A lot of the camping areas at the regional parks are limited to motorhomes under 7 or 8 metres in length, thankfully there are no restrictions at Wenderholm. However, the number of places you could fit with a motorhome larger than 8 metres is minimal, and on the weekend it could be almost impossible to find somewhere until the carpark starts to empty out at the end of the day. For us though a Monday brought an almost empty car park and our choice of spaces.
Wenderholm was the first regional park to be opened back in the 1960s as part of some terrific forward-thinking on behalf of the then Council. It’s a beautiful beach that offers safe swimming where you can walk into the water without it getting too deep for a decent way. It was impossible to resist the first swim of 2019 with the water just a perfect temp.
The NZMCA App has lots of comments on how hard it is to make a booking at these sites with comments about hours on the phone. I didn’t find it that hard logging into the council website meant setting up a new account which didn’t take that long and from there it was a reasonably straightforward process to create a booking for the night in the CSC area and then pay online.
With the park gates closing at 9pm the carpark slowly emptied out as the time drew nearer and when we got up the following morning, we were one of only three vans that had spent the night in the carpark. I must say that it was so quiet and peaceful, making the first night back in the motorhome a very welcoming experience.
I have lost so much fitness during the past few weeks, probably not helped by a partially collapsed lung during the procedure so knowing that I needed to do something about getting fit again when Sarah suggested a walk I found myself in agreement. There are several walks around the park with maps available at the kiosk showing the various routes.
Sarah wanted to walk to the lookout, which as you can see from the above photo is located high in the hills overlooking the beach. This, of course, meant that we had to climb the hill to get to the lookout.
There never seems to be hill walk anywhere in the country without endless flights of stairs to be climbed, and while this is probably easier than trying to walk up a steep muddy track, I can really feel it in my knees with each step. Having said that it probably would haven’t been nearly so hard if I hadn’t been so unfit. Much huffing and puffing with numerous stops for a breather. Sarah suggested taking a photo of me, but I declined not wanting the hot, sweaty mess on display in the blog. Anyway, we made it to the top.
At the top of the hill, we had two choices follow the path along the ridge and then head back to the camp or continue to follow the perimeter track downwards to Kororu Bay located on the estuary opposite Wairewa. The trail leads downhill steeply making us very glad that we walked up the way we did although somewhat nervous about the return journey.
The bay wasn’t really the sort of place to go for a swim (in fact it’s prohibited), but it was good to sit down and rest for a few minutes. Following the perimeter track onwards we came across this Kereru just sitting there maybe 2 metres from the track. A bit further on the track separated either heading back uphill towards the Couldrey house track or continuing around the outside of the park.
Sarah looked at the map and decided that the Couldrey track looked shorter overall so despite my protestations that this appeared to be more uphill, this was to be the chosen route. As the hill went on what seemed to be a never-ending path upwards, it was here that I found my lack of fitness really beginning to tell lagging further and further behind Sarah. When I did manage to drag my weary body over the crest of the hill, the views made the slog up the hill worthwhile, and of course, it’s all downhill from here.
Returning to the motorhome, we had timed it perfectly for a swim with high tide almost upon us. As I mentioned earlier this is a very safe beach for swimming, but on this day there was a decent swell rolling into the shore which had we had boogie boards would have created a great deal of fun.
We decided that we were enjoying our stay so much that we would spend another night here. Sadly there is a limit of one night at the carpark for CSC vehicles, and this would mean moving down to the Schischka Campground which is about 1.5 km from the beach and closer to the road. It is, however, a beautiful spot set amongst some lovely plantings of native bush with almost nobody here allowing us to grab a place sheltered from the wind but still with views of the estuary. At $15 per adult per night, it’s not cheap to stay here although you can buy a yearly pass for $138 which if it wasn’t for the 8-metre limit at a lot of the camps (ours is 8.7 long) we probably would.
That evening we grabbed the bikes out of the back and set off down to the beach for a quick look-see. It wasn’t till we were most of the way there that I realised my rear tyre was seriously down on pressure and we had returned the bike pump to one of our sons. That night Sarah remembered the emergency tyre repair kit for the motorhome which is both an electric pump and has the gunk to fill a puncture that came with the motorhome as it has no spare, not needing that we inflated the tyre to just like a new one. What a clever wife I have.
Not wanting to leave any of the walks unwalked we set off on Vin’s walk that runs around the back of the park behind the campsite and close to the road. It’s an interesting walk through both bush and farmland. You have the option of the 30-minute walk or a slightly longer walk that follows quite a narrow pathway through the bush back to the park entrance, a walk well worth taking.
All this walking meant another trip to the beach. So back out with the bikes for a quick ride there, then into the sea for a nice splashdown. Then an enjoyable ride back to the motorhome. As we rode to and from the beach past the mangroves, there was a lot of disturbance in the water from what we assumed were mullet although I could be corrected on this. Mostly rather small but some of them would make quite decent baitfish if we had a net.
It’s funny how often we have driven considerable distances to get somewhere and then right on our doorstep so to speak is a place that we have both enjoyed so much that we have decided to stay a third night. It’s here that I understand the frustrations of people using the council booking system. You cannot extend your stay online you have to call the Council, and the people you speak to on the other end of the phone at the Council cannot extend your stay either this needs to be done by someone from park services. So what should be a straightforward matter of a couple of minutes on the website has turned into an hour waiting for a call back to approve our stay. It’s not as though the camp is full, there is space everywhere!
One other commentary on the campsite is that despite having flushing toilets, there are no showers which at $15 per person (more than a DOC camp) which I find surprising and think that I would rather see long drop toilets and cold water showers than the flush toilets. I am sure people staying here that are walking the Te Aroha Trail would love to be able to have a shower.
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 places we have stayed click here