Whoever planned the roads in the central Hawkes Bay didn’t know how to draw a straight line with the quickest way between anywhere either an unuseable metal road or some higgly piggly line that some sadist drew on the map. I exaggerate slightly (only slightly) but the distance from Kairakau to Pourerere Beach as the crow flies is probably not much more than 20kms but the road to get there is almost 60kms long with a huge loop required to get there.
You could take the shorter metal road but after hearing some horror stories from other campers we decided that it wasn’t really an option. In fact if you check Google maps you will see that although the distance is 25kms shorter the time involved in driving is almost the same. That should tell most of us to avoid the road especially when you have a 9 metre front drive motorhome. (this coming from someone who has driven some pretty bad roads in other parts of the country.
On arrival at the small settlement of Pourerere we noticed the above sign showing that all the beach camping sites were full. We had driven 60kms to get here and knew that aside from the beachside camping areas there was also a freedom camping spot further along the road so we weren’t going to turn back.
If the beachside camping area was full it must have been with invisible campers as only 4 of the 40 available spaces had campers staying and all of those were leaving on the day we arrived. The sign also states that you must have registered and paid with the council to stay here and whilst this is the case during the peak summer months it’s not the case during the off peak months. The council recognise that there is no phone signal here so do not enforce the requirement to register. Therefore park where you like for free in the marked spaces.
With the wind picking up a little Sarah and I chose a spot that was slightly sheltered by some trees and shrubs and as you can see we weren’t more than a couple of steps to the beach, what a great spot!
Although the road runs just a couple of metres behind the motorhome there was so little traffic that it was never an issue for us. It’s probably a bit different during the peak summer months but even then the place only has capacity of a small number of campers and residents so I doubt the traffic gets to bad. It is a very long way to come to a dead end road.
A couple of hundred metres down from where we chose to camp there were some clean but rather dated public toilets. Also as we have found at other places on this coast it’s also where the Tsunami Evacuation notices are displayed. I found myself taking a good look at these so I knew where I would have to run in the event of an emergency.
About 1km from the beachside camping areas is the freedom camping area for CSC vehicles as you can see from the beach there is a slight difference in ease of access to the beach between the two spots and when you get to the area itself the state of the area is also rather sad. Deep ruts where people have got stuck mark almost the whole area which is also not very level and I must say it would have been something of a disappointment if we had needed to stay here.
There is some confusion in the NZMCA travel directory between the freedom camping area and the “paid camp” where we stayed. In the height of summer you can stay in one of the 15 spaces here without permission but you need council permission to stay down at the beach.
Further down the beach is a campground which does not appear to be advertised anywhere and seems full of permanent holiday caravans right across the beachfront. It may be open to public camping but we didn’t enter the camp and didn’t ask about rates. Afterwards I tried to find out about it online without success.
Some of the people that we spoke to who were moving on that day suggested that the walk to the point was an enjoyable one so we decided to take up the idea. It’s actually much further than it looked from the motorhome taking a good 40 minutes each way although we did stop it take in the sights. It seems so strange being at such a beautiful beach without another soul there.
Mr Blobby really approved of the place such a short stroll to the beach, he is really becoming quite the experienced traveler. Although with all this beautiful scenery his favoured position seems to be in the shade underneath the motorhome. That’s fine with Sarah and I except that we then need to position ourselves in such a way that we can keep an eye on him in case he decides to wander off somewhere. Alternatively we could put him on a harness and lead but that seems such a sad thing to do to a 20 year old cat who has never worn one before.
We left Mr Blobby in charge of the motorhome and headed into the water for a swim it’s really shallow for a long way out and we both felt quite safe splashing about in the surf knowing that there was no one round to rescue us if we did get into trouble.
Of course we cannot go anywhere these days without breaking out the bikes and heading off for a ride to explore the area. The signage at the entrance to the settlement talks about Pourerere being the site of the first sheep station in the Hawkes Bay and also that Captain Cook anchored offshore to receive the local Maori and presented them with various gifts. Given how the hills behind the beach are these days completely devoid of trees it would be fascinating to go back in time (if you could) and see what the country looked like in those days.
Back in 1877 the settlers built a church on a small knoll that was before that a fortified Pa site. Obviously the preservation of heritage was viewed rather differently then. The church fell in to ruin and was demolished some 50 years later. Today the site stands as a small cemetery and a memorial stone to the original church. It’s rather overgrown with trees all around but is a very restful place and if you are in the area and have time to spare it’s well worth the short stroll from the main road.
We could have stayed here much longer than we did but sadly we were running to a sort of schedule that meant we moved on the following morning. I would seriously recommend that if you do come here you plan a decent stay it’s well worth it.
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