Earlier in June, I had been through round number 5 of the chemo treatment after which Sarah and I had hoped to get away for a few days. Sadly however I didn’t feel that wonderful, and then the weather packed in, so we never went. Last week we decided that enough of feeling sorry for myself if we didn’t go then we would probably never go. So after doing a quick shop for supplies. We headed out to the farm where the motorhome is stored to load up and head somewhere. We had talked between ourselves but still had no idea where we wanted to go as we pulled out of the farm driveway. One thing we did know was that wherever we went, we would need to fill the fresh water tank. (the storage facility has none).
We talked about heading north, but we almost always do that so time for a different plan. Deciding that we would head south, we talked about doing the first night at Ray’s Rest, but there is no water there, so we detoured from the motorway at Takanini to head for Bruce Pullman park where there is both a double-sided dump station as well as potable water. Water tank full and back on the motorway again heading south we decided that even though Ray’s rest is nice we have been there too many times and it was time to find somewhere new.
Somehow we ended up driving all the way the Waihi Beach. Although it was a little touch and go as we drove through Paeroa where they were stopping traffic. Apparently, there had been a terrible accident on SH2 with the road closed at Aongatete. The person doing the traffic stop didn’t actually know where that was and ended up asking us if that was before or after Waihi. When we told him it was after we were allowed to proceed.
Even though we visited the Park when it opened 2 years ago we have never stayed. So I guess that counts as something new. After my blog about peoples parking, you might wonder why we have parked between other vans when the other photo shows tons of space. In truth, we parked there for the view, and the sun streaming into the front of the motorhome. Most of the rest of the spots actually filled in with later arrivals anyway.
With blue sky beginning to dominate the black clouds, we decided to stretch the legs and wander down to the beach. The Western Bay of Plenty council has done a fantastic job catering to freedom campers with numerous spots up and down this spectacular beach. Yes, they closed the very popular Anzac Bay, but there are still spots close to the water. Including the freedom camping area next to the beach, 600 metres from the NZMCA Park. The only drawback for us is that at almost 9 metres in length we don’t fit into a standard carpark ruling out spots like this.
Sarah had struck up a conversation with one of the locals who told her that many large logs had been washed up onto the beach over the last couple of days. Not the sort of thing you would want to come across if you were boating but safe on land. We wandered southwards down the beach towards Bowentown, enjoying the walk. Looking west, however, it became apparent that the break in the weather wasn’t going to hold, so we started a retreat back to the motorhome. We probably got no more than 100 metres before the skies opened, just as well we had our raincoats in the backpack. Not quite drenched but not exactly dry we made it back to the motorhome.
After a very wet night, the day dawned with blue skies and the chance to get the bikes out for a ride around the place. Not only is the area well set up for freedom camping complete with an excellent dump station and potable water. But they have also taken the trouble to add cycleways, both on the road and in some of the reserves. Ten out of ten here to the local council. Somehow I didn’t get any photos of this, but I am sure you get the idea.
It really was one of those beautiful winter mornings. Cold but sunny enough to bring people out in force. We found a beachfront cafe that we didn’t frequent, but it certainly had its fair share of people enjoying a morning coffee. Further up at the end of the beach, we found a walk that takes you up and over the headland. While today with the bikes wasn’t the day to do it, it’s one of those things that we will come back for.
Heading back towards the NZMCA Park, there is a cycle trail that takes you along the inside of headland towards Bowentown. It’s a really lovely ride along the water. Once you reach Bowentown the trail finishes but you can without much traffic on the road we carried on to Anzac Bay. Returning to the motorhome, we had covered some 25km’s not having ridden any distance for some time my backside felt every kilometre of that.
We spent another night before moving on. I was a little worried around 8pm when suddenly I started to feel not to good and almost said to Sarah that we needed to head home. In the end, the feeling passed before I said anything, so I didn’t tell her till the following morning. One thing they have added since our last visit here is potable water—a convenient addition to the Park with us filling up before we departed.
So as we headed away, Sarah suggested that we should head back to Anzac bay where she would have a bit of practice driving the van. Sarah has driven heaps of different vehicles during the time we owned the car rental company, so it was really just a matter of getting behind the wheel for her. (and me allowing her) I have enjoyed driving it so much she never gets the chance.
After a couple of times around the parking area, suddenly we were off and up to the lookout carpark. A very narrow road, I am not quite sure what she would have done if we met someone coming the other way. In the end, we made it up and down without incident. Sarah said that she felt very comfortable behind the wheel. I have always been a nervous passenger, but I now realise how silly it is not to have both of us driving. From here we intend to explore a couple of the freedom camping areas on the way through to Tauranga.
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To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can then click the link to read the blog about that area.
To view our Campground Ratings system, that we have done for places we have stayed click here