Wonderful Waikato – Little Waipa


Or perhaps I should have called this blog Mr Blobby’s last stand. For those who haven’t read any of the previous blogs Mr Blobby is our 21 year old cat who has only recently started his travels having been a house cat for the proceeding 20 years. Sadly as this year has progressed he is really starting to show his age with his health deteriorating. So we decided it was time to head away for what would probably be his final road trip.

It’s always hard without a specific plan in mind to work out where to go, do we, like we often do head north for the better, warmer weather or do we head south and look for a new area to explore. A few weeks ago we were set to join some friends of ours at a music event in Putaruru sadly however I was suffering from one of the worst colds I have experienced in years and felt to sick to travel. Talking to them after the event they told us about the fabulous freedom camping spots they had found alongside the Waikato river so although the music event had long since finished we decided to follow their tyre tracks and see the area for ourselves.

We have stayed previously at AJ’s a spacious property on the northern banks of the river next door to the Horahora domain, where you can stay without cost, as opposed to the $5 per person at AJ’s but it can get pretty crowded there whereas AJ’s gives you the chance to spread out as well as taking advantage of the toilets and showers provided should you wish. We took the above photos during a one night stay back in April on our return from exploring the lower east coast of the North Island.

River Trails

Turning off at Horahora Road towards the Waikato River Trails the road makes for a really pleasant drive with the river on one side and a mixture of housing and farmland on the other. 8 or so kms down the road there is the turn off for the Little Waipa Reserve number one on the list of must visit places according to our friends.

Signage at the entrance to the camping area lets you know that a camping permit is required to stay here which is in conflict with what the NZMCA App states and since I am on 2Degrees mobile with no signal here we weren’t quite sure what to do. In speaking with the only other camper here they told us that as long as you stayed less 2 nights or less no permit was required so we decided that we would accept this but check once we had signal back.

With only one other camper here in an area big enough to accommodate multiple campers we had our choice of spaces, choosing one close to the boat ramp with a great view of the river from the lounge area of the motorhome. One really good thing about this area is that the ground surface is both level and well drained meaning that even after all the recent heavy rain there was no worry about getting stuck here.

The camping area is almost exactly halfway along this part of the river trail with the trail following the road to this point and then running alongside the river from here to the Arapuni Dam. Rather than break out the bicycles I convinced Sarah we should take a wander along the path to explore the area.

At the entrance to the trail there are a couple of well written signage boards that explain the history of the area and points of interest along the trail. Although we weren’t going to explore anywhere near the full trail trail this day it was good to know what we could see if we wanted to.

The path is a well formed wide track that as it follows the river is fairly flat making for an easy walk with this sign about a 20 minute walk from the camp.

We found it interesting to see some of the old hides that dotted both sides of the river all of which seemed very dilapidated making us wonder if now that the river trail had been opened that their use had been curtailed. One would imagine the local council wouldn’t want people hunting ducks whilst people are riding past on their bikes as it could present something of a health and safety issue. So the old hides are just falling slowly into the river.

Having had a good wander up the trail we returned to the camp taking advantage of the facilities (long drop toilets) which are clean and tidy and appear well maintained. The camp also has recycle and rubbish bins that are pretty hard to miss given their striking colours hopefully preventing people from littering the camp. There are also cold water showers in the shed next to the toilets but these were closed for winter.

Back at the motorhome we found Mr Blobby looking rather worse for wear and very unsteady on his feet. Making him as comfortable as we could we were both concerned that the end was near. At least if it was to be his time he could look back on a good life and a long innings.


The following morning dawned with Mr Blobby having made it through the night but not really either eating or drinking so we made the decision to head home so that when the time came he would be in familiar surroundings.

Hearing voices outside I stepped out to investigate to discover these rowers heading up river being coached by someone in a power boat who was, lets just say, was being rather forceful with his directions and advice about what the pair were doing wrong in the boat. Rather blue language for 8am I thought.

Before we departed I again took advantage of the local facilities and as I wandered back to the motorhome I couldn’t help but admire the beauty of the place. That night there had been four of us camped there and as you can see from the huge spaces around us there is easily room for plenty more, this is a place we will return to.

When we got home and we again had signal I logged onto the local council website to find out about what was involved in getting a permit. I applied for one retrospectively for the previous night and this was granted without cost. So the App is probably correct you can stay up to 2 nights free of charge and then a paid permit is required.

Little Waipa Reserve

Proximity to Attractions

Right on the river for good fishing, boating and during summer I guess also swimming. With the River Trail running through the camp for cyclists and walkers.

Nearest Supplies/Town

You are a 30kms from anywhere so stock up before you arrive here.

Ground Surface

A grassy area but mostly level and well drained, heaps of room for everyone.

Proximity to Water/Dump Station

There is no water here with the nearest probably in Cambridge 30kms away dump stations a little closer in Putaruru

Outlook from Camp

Very pleasant camp right on the river.

Noise during Day and Night

Set back enough from the road that you can barely hear any noise.

Cellphone Signal

Full Vodafone signal but almost non existent 2Degrees and Spark


Long drop toilets and cold water showers

Walking/Cycling Tracks

Very nice track running alongside the road/river

Pets welcome

No problems here. Just dogs on leads.

Overall Rating:

A very nice place to stay and I would imagine very popular in the summer period.

Mr Blobby is still with us this morning  so if it is the end of the road for Mr Blobby then we will miss him on our next journey but he will always be with us in spirit if not in person. Lots of good memories for all of us.

UPDATE: Mr Blobby passed away on Sarah’s lap at 7.55pm on 14/07/2019 may he rest in peace a treasured family pet. 😥😥😥

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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.

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