I can count on one finger the number of times in the last 20 years that we have been away in our motorhome in January. Usually, we leave this time of the year to those who work all year. So that we can take advantage of the campgrounds when they are a little quieter. I don’t know why, but I was looking at the Auckland Council website and noticed that the self-contained area at Shakespear Regional Park, was almost deserted. Or at least out of 20 available spaces only 2 or 3 were booked.
Mentioning this to Sarah, I suggested that we take advantage of this, and have a sneaky quiet break. Knowing also that fellow bloggers and camp hosts Bernice and Roy Vannini would be there it would also be a chance for a catch-up. We gave Aucklanders the weekend to enjoy themselves then headed away Monday morning.
I must say it’s nice to go somewhere where you are there even before someone feels like saying “are we there yet?” Situated at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Shakespear Regional Park is less than an hour from home. However once there it’s like being in another country so different is it from all the houses that line Whangaparaoa Road.
Sure enough, what I had seen online turned out to be correct with only 2 other motorhomes parked up on our arrival. A completely different situation however at the official campground were Bernice and Roy where playing host to 160 campers. For those that don’t know there are two areas at Shakespear with the camping ground located at the far end of the beach. The self-contained area is located at the midpoint of the beach maybe 500 metres from the main camp.
We sent the above photo of what we considered our prime spot to some friends of ours who replied by calling us, Mr and Mrs No Mates. But that’s just the way we like it sometimes. The chance to blob out, without having to worry about your neighbour or what your friends are doing.
We had decided to leave our inflatable boat at home. Sarah however still wanted to get out on the water, so a quick trip to the Warehouse secured this toy. The water was absolutely beautiful, clear and warm, and a very refreshing swim was had. It was too far away to capture on my phone but we could also see the America’s Cup boat out and about on sea trials. I must say it certainly looks fast.
We had the timing of this trip just about perfect with an 11am high tide we could cool down during the heat of the day. Then when it got a bit cooler set off for a bit of an explore.
Bernice told us that at low tide, you can actually walk right around the headland to Army Bay. We weren’t feeling that adventurous but did decide to walk at least as far as Pink Beach. This is a 40 minutes stroll over the remains of the cliffs that have eroded over time. There really are some quite impressive formations, with a little bit of mud from time to time it’s an easy walk.
We did spot a couple of rather unusual things. First, a giant sea slug that had been marooned by the tide. Sarah suggested that I picked it up and put it back in the water, I probably should have done but couldn’t quite bring myself to pick it up. Turns out that it’s perhaps toxic anyway so just as well I didn’t pick it up.
Second was the rather unfortunate mini sailing dingy, smashed upon the rocks. We wondered the story behind its loss as it looked too small to take out in rough water.
We made it to Pink Beach, of which I somehow omitted to take a single photo. Save to say that the beach does have a pink tinge to it. It is only accessible at low tide and isn’t what I would consider an ideal place for a swim. We decided to walk back over the headland, and as you can see from the above photos, it’s starting to get very dry here.
They have done a lot of work on the tracks since we were here last year putting new metal down. This is to make them useable by both walkers and cyclists year-round. Although I wouldn’t want to come off my bike on this gravel, you would have a horrible case of road rash.
Back at the motorhome, we sat down for a rest only to have our peace and quiet disturbed by the distinctive sound from the wings of a Kereru (Wood Pigeon) as it landed in the trees next to me. Shakespear is a nature reserve complete with a predator fence making the peninsula an island with an abundance of native birds. It gives you the chance to take a shot like this by just holding your phone up to the tree, no special camera required.
Ever since we lost our awning over the roof of our old campervan many years ago. I have always been paranoid about leaving it out, especially at night. Actually, with the new one, it’s more about having to bring it in if the wind gets up as we have it well tied down. At 6 metres long and roof-mounted, it’s a large sail that without someone standing on a chair or stepladder at each end is tough to hold onto.
I have an App on my phone called Windy that was recommended to me a couple of years ago. This allows me to check the predicted wind conditions for the next few days. I have found it to be very accurate. So after checking this and seeing the forecast was OK, we left the awning out for the night. Thankfully without incident although Sarah did hear it flapping a couple of times.
The following day it was out with the bikes to explore Gulf Harbour. We discovered that the Marina is much bigger than we thought. We also found out that there are two areas for motorhome parking within the marina complex. While a lot of people will know about the free camping area located at the entrance to the harbour. That area may not appeal to some who find they can barely open their doors given how close everyone is to each other.
We followed a path that started alongside the 4Square store and followed the marina coastline, where we spotted some motorhomes parked on the other side of the marina. It turns out there is another area available to stay at the Fairway Bay Marina. At $15 per night without power or $20 with it also has a dump station and onsite water. So it offers a lot for your money. It’s so much less popular than the free area, making more room to spread out and relax. We didn’t stay at the Marina, but I have added it to my list of campgrounds.
Back at the Park, we had put almost 30kms on the bikes exploring the area. I must say that the EBikes sure make it easy when you are, like me, a little large and unfit but still want to be able to get around without taking the motorhome everywhere.
Of course, we couldn’t stay here and not partake of some of the fabulous walks around the park. Getting up to the viewing platform at the highest point in the park offers some spectacular views.
Our final evening in the van saw us out watching as the sky appeared to catch fire, during a fantastic sunset. At the end of three fabulous days, it was a great break taking advantage of a facility so close to Auckland. You cannot see it in the photo but you also have an amazing view a bit later of all the lights of the city twinkling across the water.
With no more than 6 campervans on any of the three nights, we stayed here it was just the sort of break we had hoped for. One interesting thing is that among the people we got chatting to, some of them actually live on the Coast. They come here because it’s such a special place, maybe I shouldn’t have shared this, and next time there will be a maximum of 20 campervans, but it will still be worth a visit.
☕ If you liked this post (click here) to buy me a cup of coffee and help keep future posts coming ☕
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