Te Pua Reserve – Remote Northland

As I mentioned in my previous blog, we had spent a few days at our new happy place Ramp Road on the Karikari peninsula. Now it was time to continue the trip north. With the chance to explore some of the more remote parts of the tip of the country. Our friends John and Gaylene had heard about a camping area at Paua. Tucked away up in the Parengerenga Harbour just south of Cape Reinga.

A bit of research on the various Facebook pages shows a few visits by fellow motorhomers, but not much info about the site. So between ourselves, John and Gaylene and John’s sister, Jenny, with her husband Willie, we decided to head away to discover parts unknown.

Of course, the golden rule of reading the instructions applies here. A check of Google Maps shows Paua at the left-hand end of the road, so off we went. Only to discover that road leads nowhere, and not enough space to turn around. So we had to back up the 500 metres back to the intersection. Turns out that if you read the instructions, you will find that the camp is actually called Te Pau Reserve. Which surprisingly is located at the end of Te Pau Road. The turn off to the right!


So, after the slight detour, we arrived at the camping ground to find the gate padlocked. Not to be deterred we called Ted the camp manager on his mobile, to be told that the camp was shut for two weeks.


This is a really remote spot. 12 km’s from the main road without any signage telling you that there is a camp there. So unless you know it’s there, you wouldn’t drive down this road. With this in mind, I asked Ted if it would be alright for us to park outside the gate just for one night. Telling him that we would be more than happy to pay if he came down to collect.

There is a huge parking area in front of what is probably an old fertiliser storage shed. These days it is a fenced-off ruin with signs warning of the dangers of entering due to asbestos.

While we waited for the others to arrive, we decided to head off for an explore of this enormous camp. Ted had explained that the field was closed as they were going to let the cattle graze the land for two weeks to get the grass down before Labour weekend. They hadn’t, however, introduced the cows into the camp yet, so we had no fear of stepping into something we would rather not have.

There is space here for hundreds of campers both near the water and set back into the paddock. Access to the sea is another matter entirely with a small cliff running right around the campsite. Other than the boat ramp in the middle of the camp, we only found a few safe places to descend to the water.

Just recently the camp has installed a couple of new long drop toilets. With one at each end of the camp, I don’t know what happened before this if you were staying in a non self contained vehicle or tent and don’t really want to know either. I guess you had a Porta Potti or similar.

We spotted the others coming down the road as we wandered back. As you can see, there was plenty of room in front of the shed for us and many others if needed.

Willie and his wife Jenny live full time on the road in their Toyota Coaster. Despite using a wheelchair since a car accident when he was 19 Willie is out there doing it, more than many motorhomers we have met. Last year he added this unique adaption to his wheelchair, turning it into an E Trike.

The front-drive unit simply clips onto his lightweight wheelchair and away you go. Initially, there were a couple of accidents including a rollover backwards down a hill, but now it’s sorted he can get most places. Together with his wife Jenny they have been able to ride parts of the Otago Rail Trail and lots of other cycle trails.


We had heard rumours that there were so many fish in this harbour you could see them under the wharf. With this in mind, John and Gaylene decided to try their luck both with a handline and rod. Neither caught anything except a couple of snags, so the attempt was abandoned shortly after that.

If you do turn up here with your boat the camp make a charge of $30 per boat to recover the cost of putting in the boat ramp. This is on top of $10 per person per night. So if you were only here for a couple of days it might be a bit of an expensive stay.


After the usual happy hour, we all retired to our vans for the evening. As the sun began to set, it was time to get out for another walk and grab some more photos.

With the sky light up with a full moon and the setting sun behind the hills. It makes you realise how lucky we can be in the country to have such a beautiful place all to ourselves.


We weren’t quite so lucky that night. We had known that the forecast was for it to get a bit windy. What we didn’t expect was quite how windy it got. At around 2am, the motorhome started shaking, and the groaning from the wind whipping around the back of the van got louder and louder. It’s fair to say that I didn’t sleep much for the rest of the night. I did wonder if the old shed behind us was going to blow down or lose part of its roof.

In the morning, on opening the front blinds, we were greeted to the sight of all the birds tucked into the wind. Much better than being out on the water or trying to fly, I guess.


We had planned on driving to the DOC camp at Tapotupotu, just south of Cape Reinga that morning. However, knowing how exposed that place is to a gale force Easterly wind, it was time to make other plans. John and Gaylene decided that they would head south to the DOC camp at Rarawa beach instead departing shortly after breakfast. Not long after that, Willie and Jenny also headed south.

At almost 9 metres long with the flat sides of on A-Class motorhome I have found that driving our motorhome in strong winds can be a bit of a challenge. So although I was somewhat reluctant to leave we also really needed to find a more sheltered spot. With this in mind, we also departed for Rarawa Beach. More about this to follow in the next blog.

Te Pua Reserve

Proximity to Attractions

I guess you come here for the fishing and boating in the harbour or as a base for a trip to Cape Reinga.

Nearest Supplies/Town

There is the general store at Te Kao 20 km's away other than that its a long way to anywhere.

Ground Surface

Level grassy paddock but with a few ruts and looked a little muddy in places.

Proximity to Water/Dump Station

Make sure you are sorted before you get here the nearest public dump/water station is back at Kaitaia almost 90 km's away.

Outlook from Camp

Looks across the water to the white sands a very beautiful view.

Noise during Day and Night


Cellphone Signal

Good signal with the nearby cellphone tower.


Recently introduced long drop toilets that are clean tidy and new. No showers.

Walking/Cycling Tracks

You will have to make do with a walk along the beach or a cycle back along the metal road.

Pets welcome

Dogs on a lead are fine.

Overall Rating:

It\'s probably a better campsite than my ratings system showed and at $10 per night per person good value. as well.

We enjoyed the camp here and will come back again another day.

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