Tinopai $20 Well Spent

Having moved on from the camping area at Pahi and choosing not to visit the Kauri Museum at Matakohe we decided to take advantage of the deal the NZMCA has put together with a number of camping grounds and spend the night at Tinopai one of only two Camp Saver campgrounds in Northland with the other located at Poutu further west.

We have stayed here once before when taking the old Mitsubishi Canter on it’s farewell tour (after 16 years faithful service) before purchasing the Dethleffs Globetrotter we have these days. I couldn’t find a shot of it at Tinopai except for the one above showing part of the rear side window so the shot of the old motorhome was taken at Kellys Bay another really nice place to stay on the shores of this huge harbour.

We ended up parking in almost exactly the same place as last time. You can see the palm tree behind Mr Blobby in the photo. The only difference this time was that with the very mild autumn we have been having we were able to park on the grass whereas last time we had to park on the gravel to avoid the mud. I am not sure if Mr Blobby approved of this place as he usually looks outwards from the van so this is rather a rare shot of him actually looking at the camera.

Of course it wouldn’t be motorhoming without something going wrong and so it was with the water heater. We have an Alde system that operates both the hot water as well as the internal heater for the motorhome operated by the touch screen above. Sadly no matter which button we pushed or how many times we turned it on and off it failed to respond to any touch meaning no hot water and no heater on this trip.

It’s never just one thing that goes wrong though is it. Our fridge is meant to switch from gas to electricity once the motorhome is plugged into power but after I had stepped out of the van to do something I heard the gas firing up for the fridge when I was re-entering it. Turns out that it wasn’t switching over but thankfully the fridge still works otherwise we would be heading home. Double thankful that both of these are warranty items and we can have them sorted without cost to ourselves.

We decided that with the motorhome sort of settled or at least as good as we were going to get it that we would get the bikes out the rear and head off for an explore of the area. For those of you who know Tinopai you will know it’s not a very big place. In fact there are only 287 permanent residents (according to one of the locals we spoke to) so the ride from one end of the village to the other didn’t take long but it was a chance to blow the cobwebs out and have a bit of an explore.

At the point where you enter the village and next door to the camping ground is the small inlet that’s used as the local marina. Not sure if I approve of the low tide access but it looks like a safe place to park the boat. New to the area since our last visit was the marine rescue/fire station for which the local community successfully raised $200,000 towards the build. A very impressive effort in such a small place $673 per full time resident.


At the other end of the village is the wharf also rebuilt with donations from the local community with little brass plaques on many of the boards alongst it acknowledging who had paid for that plank of wood. Last time we visited we fished of the end of this wharf during high tide but you would just about have required a 10 kilo sinker when we visited mid tide with the current raging past the wharf. For those who don’t know the tidal rip in this harbour is the strongest in New Zealand and amongst the strongest in the world.


In between the two ends of the village as we explored the back streets we came across this garden with the numerous colourful pukeko’s. It can be really interesting what you can spot sometimes when you aren’t speeding past in the motorhome.

We returned to the motorhome to find the campground a little fuller. Last time we where here we were the only ones this time many more obvious proof that the camp saver scheme is working. Another pleasant surprise on our return we discovered someone had left a fresh snapper at the door. I checked with Bill another camper, he told me that one of the locals had come through the camp after catching more fish than they needed offering them around so he secured one for us. So many thanks to the unknown local. After my usual butchering job filleting it we had lovely snapper for dinner that night.


Talking about fishing you definitely would want to make sure you got the tides right as it’s a long way to the beach when the tide is out.

With the hot water out of action in the motorhome it was great to be able to have a good shower in the facilities provided by the campground, at $1 for a 5 minute shower (2 X 50C coins) the water pressure was good and steaming hot. The toilets whilst a little dated were clean tidy and well maintained. It’s a very quaint country campground and well worth the $20 invested for the nights stay.

The following day we drove up the road to visit some friends we have met through motorhoming John and Gaylene. John had offered that if we were ever in the area we could clean the motorhome at his place since we don’t have facilities to wash it where it’s stored, it was well overdue for a clean. So while Sarah and Gaylene had a good catch up John and I got stuck into giving the van a much needed wash.

John and Gaylene were actually due to hit the road that morning but had stuck around to help us get the van sorted so many thanks for your assistance John it looks so much better now and I hope the fish are biting wherever you are currently parked!

Tinopai Community Camp

Proximity to Attractions

To be honest there isn't much here but great access to the harbour for fishing and I am sure that's why most come here.

Nearest Supplies/Town

There are no local shops and it's 13 kms to the nearest store so make sure you come well prepared.

Ground Surface

Level grassed area with a small gravel area for when it gets boggy in winter. Perfect

Proximity to Water/Dump Station

There is limited fresh water here but the nearest dump station is in Dargaville so make sure you arrive with empty waste tanks

Outlook from Camp

A very nice sea view and across the harbour to rolling farm land

Noise during Day and Night

Very quiet with just a small amount of noise from the road behind the camp.

Cellphone Signal

Good signal for Vodafone and Spark very little on 2 Degrees


Excellent showers, toilets a little dated but clean and tidy.

Walking/Cycling Tracks

You can walk or cycle along the road next to the beach but it's only a couple of kms long.

Pets welcome

No problem with pets here

Overall Rating:

A great place to stay and as part of the NZMCA Camp Saver program at $20 with power great value.

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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