Freedom Camping In Porangahau

Moving on from Pourerere the next stop on tour was going to be another spot that had been recommended to us as a must stay place.- Porangahau Beach but first we wanted to visit the small settlement of Aramoana and no we didn’t take a detour to the South Island it’s just another village with the same name as the one outside Dunedin. It’s a short 8km trip down a well-graded metal road to get to Aramoana


There is a public carpark at the end of the road which also serves as freedom camping area with 4 dedicated spots available at the far end of the carpark with one little van parked up on our arrival. It’s not somewhere we could really stay as you can see from the photo we are slightly too large to fit into one of the spaces.


This settlement is full of rather expensive looking houses, and in some ways, the freedom camping area appears to be in conflict with its surroundings, especially given that those staying in the available space are most likely smaller “tourist” vans.

The main attraction here is the marine reserve which is located a 1km walk down the beach but with the weather taking a turn for the worse and rain beginning to fall we choose not to visit but continue the journey. Since we wanted to visit the dump station, we chose another large circular route heading first for Waipawa and the dump station. It was here that we again met up with Annelisa and some of her party from the NZMCA Taupo who we had met in Kairakau. Then onwards to the bustling metropolis of Waipukurau and some essential supplies.

We stopped at the local Caltex for diesel and to get the LPG cylinder refilled which I wouldn’t normally mention except that the service here was exceptional and worthy of a big thumbs up. Then into the Countdown next door before heading back onto the road. One advantage of coming this way as we had again avoided any metal road with a decent road all the way through to Porangahau. But it did mean that we missed out on a visit to Blackhead Beach which will be a must-do next time.

Porangahau Beach is actually about another 6 km’s past the little village where there is a cafe, garage, and local store so if you have forgotten something it’s not that far to go back for a top-up. The freedom camping area is nestled in a reserve area with housing around it so it doesn’t feel as remote as it might otherwise. You are set back from the beach about 20 metres with a walkway through the dunes to access the beach, but they aren’t tall enough to spoil the view from some parts of the camping area.

The camping area is deceptively large with areas either out in the open that have views to the sea or under the shade of the old pine trees. Sarah and I have always avoided staying under trees as we are concerned about either falling pine cones or heaven forbid a falling branch during a strong wind, so we found ourselves a beautiful place out in the open. 7 vehicles spent the night with 4 of them under the trees, so I guess not everyone is as concerned as we are.

Like the other freedom camping areas along this part of the coast, there are flushing toilets here that are clean, obviously maintained regularly. There is also a freshwater supply which would be an added bonus if you were planning an extended stay.

As is our usual thing after settling the motorhome, it was time for a walk. This is a massive beach that was almost entirely devoid of people but with large flocks of Tern’s that had claimed the beach. As we walked towards them, they would take flight only to settle down behind us as we passed by, a temporary interruption to their lives. They reminded me of the planes in Star Wars with the way they elevate their wings before taking flight which you can see a couple of them doing in the photo above.


We were both quite taken with this seaweed which neither of us had ever seen before. It had washed up on a number of mussel shells along the beach. I would imagine that in the water being swayed by the currents, they would be quite a pretty sight, almost like flowers of the sea.

We had enjoyed such good weather during our trip but today although it wasn’t raining the sky was very threatening. That didn’t stop us walking to the end of the beach beyond the houses that comprise this small beach settlement. I am sure that on a brighter day, the view back along this massive beach would be a sight to behold.

A couple of days ago we were watching the series Coast with Simon Reeve on TV1, and they featured a small segment about this beach with a group of people playing polo on the beach. Apparently, it is a thing that happens here, although not on the days we visited. Perhaps there is a season when they play.

It’s when you see the beach later in the day at low tide that you can imagine the pounding of the polo ponies amongst this vast expanse of sand, this beach really is vast.


Of course, it wouldn’t be one of my blogs without at least one photo of our motorhome and where we parked. As you can see from the picture, the area is set back a little way from the beach but not so far that we didn’t get a decent view from the front windows. Although perhaps when the camping area is fuller, you might find your view blocked by other campers. It’s another quality freedom camping area along this coast. One that we will return to. You can also if you look closely see Mr Blobby under the back of the motorhome on his inspection tour, making sure all is in order.

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 

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3 thoughts on “Freedom Camping In Porangahau

  1. Your ‘flower’ is known as a sea tulip, and the head actually has a rather fragile shell so it is animal not vegetable

  2. The seaweed with the mussel attached is quite common along the south coast of the South Island and due to my fading memory I can’t recall the name but it was named after a fruit or vegetable.

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