A lot of you will have looked at that title and thought where?🤔 Actually, it’s one of the most visited of the Auckland regional parks on the south end of the city, sitting just down the coast from Orere Point and about 60 minutes drive from Auckland central. It’s a place we have visited a few times over the years. Never however in our motorhome or spending the night there.
First, though we had to get out of Auckland where we spent a change of lights behind this classic Delorean fully kitted out for the Back to the Future movies. Not the greatest photo but I am sure you get the idea.
The motorway was it’s usual congested self. It doesn’t seem to matter what time we leave Auckland it takes forever to get anywhere on the choked motorway system, but eventually, we got to the Takanini off-ramp and then the back road out past Ardmore and the NZMCA park and onto Clevedon. Turning right and heading towards the coast at Kawakawa Bay, it was like all the traffic evaporated as we enjoyed empty roads the whole way to the park.
When we last visited this park, a few years ago, motorhomes were able to park alongside the beach. Sadly that no longer applies with motorhomes restricted to the other camping areas of which there are 4 scattered around the park. Soft ground conditions, however, meant that the only parking available was in the main carpark which also serves as the CSC parking area. The council call it SCC, just to add to the confusion.
I guess one of the benefits of winter though is there isn’t exactly a lot of competition for places to park. With only 2 other cars in the carpark on our arrival and no other motorhomer arriving during our stay, we had our choice of spots, finding one that afforded a view of the water but not quite the same as actually being next to it. Being a regional park, we felt quite safe here on our own as we knew the gates would be locked at 7pm and heard the Ranger come around at 8pm to inspect the parking area – just as well we had paid online! ($16 for the night in the SCC area)
With the motorhome parked up, it was time to get out and start exploring. Right next to the main carpark is the information board with details of all the activities available within the park. As well as prominent notices about protecting your valuables (a rather sad commentary on today’s society). We wandered past the old homestead which is looking rather forlorn and empty these days but was home to 14 children back in its early days.
From there it’s down to the beachfront campground where as I mentioned you used to be able to camp although there is very little flat ground unless you are next to the water. So bad in some places that you would need a serious set of chocks on your tent to try and get yourself level. Maybe by prohibiting motorhomes they are allowing the campers to enjoy the flat areas.
Behind the homestead is the path leading up the hill to the Seaview campground. With another long flight of those dreaded steps. However, once at the top the views down over the camping area and towards the carpark where you can just see our motorhome in the centre of the main shot made it all worthwhile.
Not so worthwhile though was the view from the “Seaview Campground” which might have had sea views some years ago before the surrounding trees grew to the height they have, but there is certainly no view now! The only real advantage here is you can stay here in your motorhome when the camp is open. (currently closed for winter). We wandered back down to the motorhome, deciding to explore further on our bikes.
Sarah had noticed that although you couldn’t take your bikes along the coastal walkway, you could take them on the farm walk so following the orange markers off we went. The route started on the road but quickly lived up to its name as we headed across a paddock where the sheep seemed really surprised to see us. Then back onto a bit of roadway that took us past the two other self-contained parking areas on either side of the stream. Both are grass only parking, so it’s not hard to figure out why they were closed, but both look like really nice spots to return to in the warmer months.
We continued on the trail reaching the point where it really became apparent that we were attempting to cycle across the farm in winter and a working farm at that. So although I didn’t take many photos along the way the two above show some of the conditions we experienced. We also had to open and close numerous gates and in one case, lift the bikes over as the gate was padlocked.
We reached the turn around point on the trail where you enter into the above paddock in the lower-left corner and then the orange marker is at the top of this hill. It looks rather innocuous in the photo but makes a great impression of a vertical cliff from the bottom. I seriously wondered about turning around and going back the way we came, but in the end, we both made it to the top. The great thing about Ebikes with throttles is that you can power the bike up the hill while you walk next to it even if it is skidding in the wet grass. I would not have made it if I had to walk up the hill and push the bike.
The views from the top would have been spectacular; however, a really heavy sea fog that had been sitting on the water all day prevented us from seeing across to the coromandel and beyond.
Of course, what goes up must come down, and the ride back to the motorhome was made a lot easier by this downhill aspect. The only real issue for Sarah was that since hers is a mainly a road-going bike, the loose gravel path saw her dismount and walk down a particularly steep section rather than lose traction and fall off. We have been seriously thinking about getting mountain bike tyres fitted to her bike. Not really the ideal bike for a “farm” walk.
Passing by newly born lambs made us realise that spring is really only a few weeks away and then summer is just around the corner.
As I mentioned earlier, we spend a tranquil night as the only campers staying there and woke to the sky blushing pink as the sun rose over the Coromandel. After such a full day yesterday, we decided to have an easy start to the day with just another stroll along the beach before saying goodbye to this beautiful park.
Tapapakanga is a place well worth visiting, and while it’s a shame that the ability to camp along the seashore has been lost, it was still worth the $16 for the night. Sure you have to pay, and free camping is available at Rays Rest (our next destination), but sometimes you just have to get out and experience other places and maybe even try cycling the farm walk in the middle of winter.
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