After consulting with various people at Tuapiro Reserve, we decided that the next port of call would be the small seaside village of Omokoroa. People we had spoken to told us about the ferry that runs to Matakana Island, a couple of cafes and the boating club. Together with a walking and cycle trail, all of these are attractions they assured us that make the area worth visiting. They also explained that there are a couple of freedom camping areas you can stay, but the one close to the ferry terminal was their choice.
Turning off SH2, we wondered if somehow we had got the directions wrong. There seemed to be nothing but the sprawl of suburbia. New housing developments springing up on each side of the ride just reinforced this view. Sarah said to me, thinking I must be just about ready to use one of the many roundabouts and head somewhere else. That we should drive to the spot and have a look they wouldn’t have said what they did unless it was worth going there.
I read later that this area is now a satellite suburb of Tauranga, a 25-minute drive away. Many of the farms and orchards have been carved up for suburban sprawl. I am not sure that I am a fan, but I guess you have to live somewhere.
Eventually, the road winds its way down to the Omokoroa Domain. It’s here that there is a large freedom camping area. Again there are spots large enough that we can park without taking up half the rest of the carpark. Even better there is potable water and a dump station also located here.
There is however a reasonably major drawback, an enormous Pohutakawa tree that not only encroaches on some of the freedom camping spots but would also wholly shade your solar panels from sunlight. Thankfully we avoided that problem finding one of the three places next to the boat shed.
Despite having driven through suburbia to get here, this place has a real country feel. Backing onto an enormous reserve on one side and the water just across the road on the other give it a completely different feel. Having said that we were there on a Wednesday and you would imagine that it would be really busy with boat trailers in the carpark. Maybe though that might just add to the whole atmosphere.
As we like to do, we set off for a bit of an explore once we had the motorhome parked up. The whole area has its own unique feel about it. With the white sand on the beach and the ferry terminal making it feel like the beginning point of some exotic destination. The large carved stone anchor on the foreshore a tribute to the Maori waka that would have dotted this beach in days gone past.
Talking about waka, at the headland slightly further along the beach, there is an old Maori Pa. Not much remains today except a rather steep gully that had been cut out of the soil, but there is an informative signboard.
The walk continues right around the headland and in front of some very flash looking houses. While it’s lovely to have this sort of walk, I often wonder how the people in the homes must feel with people wandering past looking into their house. Still, it’s a delightful walk. Once you reach the end, you can either turn around and walk back or follow the streets, which is what we did. It’s convenient in a situation like this to have Google maps on your phone to help navigate the way.
We decided that we would treat ourselves to lunch at the cafe located next to the freedom camping area. It’s not often that we do this sort of thing as we are often disappointed with our choices. Here the view was terrific, and it was a great day, so we wandered upstairs to the cafe lulled into a false sense of security. Sadly the best thing about the meal other than the view was the bottled orange juice. It’s not often I review places on Google these days, but I gave them 2 stars, maybe that tells you about the quality of the food. Of course, we may have just struck them on a bad day, you can only judge on your own experience.
We were told that the food at the Yacht club was of a much better standard, but they are only open Thursday to Sunday during winter. So we missed out on trying them out.
Even though there was a reasonably cold wind blowing, it was a beautiful enough day to get out the bikes and head off for a ride. The local council here have done a fantastic job putting in a bike trail that runs along the coast. In fact, you can follow it all the way to Tauranga, but we weren’t feeling anywhere near that energetic.
What we did discover is that there is another freedom camping area along this trail. Located at the Cooney Reserve with access from Margaret Drive (just off the main rd) it’s basically a carpark with water views, but the gates are locked at night. This would alleviate the boy racer problem but could create an issue of you needed to leave during the night.
There seems to be plenty to do here, aside from the great walks and bicycle track you could spend hours just watching the boats coming and going. The fuel tanker you can see on the ferry was there to refill it. It arrived at about 5 past 1 missing getting there before the 1pm sailing, so it sat there for 2 hours waiting for it to come back and refill it then.
There was an enormous assortment of vehicles heading to and from the island. With farm machinery, stock trucks and the like mixing with cars. From how heavily weighed down one of the cars was with cases of beer I guess there are no liquor shops on the island.
I had a very peaceful nights sleep. Sarah, however, complained about the trains going all through the night. I seriously thought she had imagined them until I saw one in the distance back towards the road. I guess that’s one of the problems parking close to the water, is that the sound carries across the water. Don’t let that put you off; it is really a great spot even if it feels like driving through suburbia to get here.
Parked next to us for the night were Suzie and Jim who had also been at the Tuapiro reserve and had ended here, like us, thanks to the information passed on by Lee and Ian. What a great community we are part of.
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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